Find over 200 print-friendly fact sheets about heart disease and related health topics.
Find answers to frequently asked questions about a variety of health conditions, like heart attack, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation.
Eating a heart-healthy diet is one of the best ways to help lower blood pressure. Limiting salt intake and eating plenty of whole grains, fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, like with the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, can help significantly lower blood pressure.
Chest pressure or pain radiating to the jaw is one of the classic symptoms of the heart not getting enough blood flow, which happens during a heart attack or when patients have chronic, severe blockages in the blood vessels supplying the heart. Often, these symptoms may also radiate to the left arm, and may go together with shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, or sweating. However, different people may experience different symptoms. Women, elderly patients, and those with diabetes are thought to be more likely to have "atypical" symptoms, such as palpitations ("heart racing"), or weakness/fatigue. Also, other medical conditions can cause similar symptoms, and in some patients, stress or anxiety might also make you feel these symptoms.
For all these reasons, it is best to discuss these symptoms with a doctor who knows you, so you can decide together on what other tests or treatment might be warranted. However, for patients concerned about having a heart attack, we recommend calling 911 for transport to the hospital because that is the safest approach. For more information about warning signs of heart attacks, check out this CardioSmart page about chest pain.
Siqin Ye, MD, MS
How was the sleep apnea diagnosed? We would recommend a formal sleep study in order to determine the extent of the sleep apnea. Based on those results, the pulmonary physicians will decide if the sleep apnea needs to be addressed.
Most often, options for treatment of sleep apnea would target the cause of the sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by airway obstruction. Central sleep apnea is caused when the brain does not correctly signal the respiratory muscles to breathe. Risks for sleep apnea include: Male sex, overweight, large tonsils/soft tissue, small jaw, large neck, GERD, nasal obstruction (like a deviated septum).
If the diagnosis is obstructive sleep apnea, treatment would focus on reducing the cause: weight loss, tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, GERD treatment. Treatment for OSA would be CPAP (A machine to help keep the airway open) or a mouth device.
Surgery can be performed on the jaw, soft tissue, or nasal septum if warranted, but most would try the less invasive treatments first.
Lynn Peng, MD, FACC
Associate Director, Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory
Lucile Packard Children's Hospital
Stanford Medical Center
Mitral valve regurgitation means that one of the valves in your heart—the mitral valve—is letting blood leak backward into the heart.
Heart valves work like one-way gates, helping blood flow in one direction between heart chambers or in and out of the heart. The mitral valve is on the left side of your heart. It lets blood flow from the upper to the lower heart chamber. When the mitral valve is damaged—for example, by an infection—it may no longer close tightly. This lets blood leak backward, or regurgitate, into the upper chamber. Your heart has to work harder to pump this extra blood. Small leaks are usually not a problem. But more severe cases weaken the heart over time and can lead to heart failure.
There are two forms of mitral valve regurgitation: chronic and acute.
If you or your child have a heart defect, it can be very scary. But there are a number of treatment options depending on the type of defect and the symptoms. It’s important to find a cardiologist who specializes in congenital heart defects and get support. Learn more about treatment.
“Congenital” means present from birth. So, congenital heart defects refers to a number of different conditions that can occur when a baby’s heart is forming or at birth. As a result, the heart—or the major vessels in and around the heart—may not develop or work the way they should.
Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect. Roughly 8 of every 1,000 babies are born with some sort of structural defect in their hearts. These problems cause more deaths in the first year of life than any other birth defects. Some examples are atrial septal defect, coarctation of the aorta, and aortic stenosis.
But, there is good news. More babies are surviving than ever before thanks to advances in treating and correcting many of these problems. Although most defects are found during pregnancy by ultrasound or in early childhood, some defects aren’t discovered until adulthood. About 1 million adults are living with congenital heart disease.
Aortic valve stenosis is a slow process. For many years, even decades, you will not feel any symptoms. But at some point, the valve will likely become so narrow (often one-fourth of its normal size) that you start having problems. Symptoms are often brought on by exercise, when the heart has to work harder.
As aortic valve stenosis gets worse, you may have symptoms such as:
If you start to notice any of these symptoms, let your doctor know right away. If you have symptoms, you need treatment. By the time you have symptoms, your condition probably is serious. If you have symptoms, you also have a high risk of sudden death.
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