Heart Health

Mitral Valve Prolapse

The flaps of the valve are "floppy" and don't close tightly. Most people who have the condition are born with it. It also tends to run in families. Most of the time, MVP doesn't cause any problems. Rarely, blood can leak the wrong way through the floppy valve. This can cause Palpitations (feelings that your heart is skipping a beat, fluttering, or beating too hard or too fast) Shortness of breath Cough Fatigue, dizziness, or anxiety Migraine headaches Chest discomfort Most people who have mitral valve prolapse (MVP) don't need treatment because they don't have symptoms and complications. If you need treatment for MVP, medicines can help relieve symptoms or prevent complications. Very few people will need surgery to repair or replace the mitral valve. MVP puts you at risk for infective endocarditis, a kind of heart infection. To prevent it, doctors used to prescribe antibiotics before dental work or certain surgeries. Now, only people at high risk of endocarditis need the antibiotics.

Heart Attack

Each year over a million people in the U.S. have a heart attack. About half of them die. Many people have permanent heart damage or die because they don't get help immediately. It's important to know the symptoms of a heart attack and call 9-1-1 if someone is having them. Those symptoms include Chest discomfort - pressure, squeezing, or pain Shortness of breath Discomfort in the upper body - arms, shoulder, neck, back Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, lightheadedness, sweating These symptoms can sometimes be different in women. 

Endocarditis

The most common type, bacterial endocarditis, occurs when germs enter your heart. These germs come through your bloodstream from another part of your body, often your mouth. Bacterial endocarditis can damage your heart valves. If untreated, it can be life-threatening. It is rare in healthy hearts.  Risk factors include having An abnormal or damaged heart valve  An artificial heart valve  Congenital heart defects The signs and symptoms of IE can vary from person to person. They also can vary over time in the same person. Symptoms you might notice include fever, shortness of breath, fluid buildup in your arms or legs, tiny red spots on your skin, and weight loss. Your doctor will diagnose IE based on your risk factors, medical history, signs and symptoms, and lab and heart tests. Early treatment can help you avoid complications. Treatment usually involves high-dose antibiotics. If your heart valve is damaged, you may need surgery. If you're at risk for IE, brush and floss your teeth regularly, and have regular dental checkups. Germs from a gum infection can enter your bloodstream. If you are at high risk, your doctor might prescribe antibiotics before dental work and certain types of surgery.

High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fat (also called a lipid) that your body needs to work properly. Too much bad cholesterol can increase your chance of getting heart disease, stroke, and other problems. The medical term for high blood cholesterol is lipid disorder, hyperlipidemia, or hypercholesterolemia.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Blood pressure is a measurement of the force against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood through your body. Hypertension is another term used to describe high blood pressure. Blood pressure readings are given as two numbers. The top number is called the systolic blood pressure. The bottom number is called the diastolic blood pressure. For example, 120 over 80 (written as 120/80 mmHg). One or both of these numbers can be too high. Normal blood pressure is when your blood pressure is lower than 120/80 mmHg most of the time. High blood pressure (hypertension) is when your blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or above most of the time. If your blood pressure numbers are 120/80 or higher, but below 140/90, it is called pre-hypertension. If you have heart or kidney problems, or you had a stroke, your doctor may want your blood pressure to be even lower than that of people who do not have these conditions.

Heart Failure

The weakening of the heart's pumping ability causes Blood and fluid to back up into the lungs The buildup of fluid in the feet, ankles and legs - called edema Tiredness and shortness of breath Common causes of heart failure are coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. It is more common in people who are 65 years old or older, African Americans, people who are overweight, and people who have had a heart attack. Men have a higher rate of heart failure than women. Your doctor will diagnose heart failure by doing a physical exam and heart tests. Treatment includes treating the underlying cause of your heart failure, medicines, and heart transplantation if other treatments fail.

Coronary Heart Disease

CHD happens when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed. This is due to the buildup of cholesterol and other material, called plaque, on their inner walls. This buildup is called atherosclerosis. As it grows, less blood can flow through the arteries. As a result, the heart muscle can't get the blood or oxygen it needs. This can lead to chest pain (angina) or a heart attack. Most heart attacks happen when a blood clot suddenly cuts off the hearts' blood supply, causing permanent heart damage. Over time, CHD can also weaken the heart muscle and contribute to heart failure and arrhythmias. Heart failure means the heart can't pump blood well to the rest of the body. Arrhythmias are changes in the normal beating rhythm of the heart.

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis can lead to serious problems, including Coronary artery disease. These arteries supply blood to your heart. When they are blocked, you can suffer angina or a heart attack. Carotid artery disease. These arteries supply blood to your brain. When they are blocked you can suffer a stroke. Peripheral arterial disease. These arteries are in your arms, legs and pelvis. When they are blocked, you can suffer from numbness, pain and sometimes infections. Atherosclerosis usually doesn't cause symptoms until it severely narrows or totally blocks an artery. Many people don't know they have it until they have a medical emergency. A physical exam, imaging, and other diagnostic tests can tell if you have it. Medicines can slow the progress of plaque buildup. Your doctor may also recommend procedures such as angioplasty to open the arteries, or surgery on the coronary or carotid arteries. Lifestyle changes can also help. These include following a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and managing stress.

Arrhythmia

Many factors can affect your heart's rhythm, such as having had a heart attack, smoking,congenital heart defects, and stress. Some substances or medicines may also cause arrhythmias. Symptoms of arrhythmias include Fast or slow heart beat Skipping beats Lightheadedness or dizziness Chest pain Shortness of breath Sweating Your doctor can run tests to find out if you have an arrhythmia. Treatment to restore a normal heart rhythm may include medicines, an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) or pacemaker, or sometimes surgery.  

Angina

Angina may feel like pressure or a squeezing pain in your chest. It may feel like indigestion. You may also feel pain in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. Angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease, the most common heart disease. CAD happens when a sticky substance called plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart, reducing blood flow. There are three types of angina: Stable angina is the most common type. It happens when the heart is working harder than usual. Stable angina has a regular pattern. Rest and medicines usually help. Unstable angina is the most dangerous. It does not follow a pattern and can happen without physical exertion. It does not go away with rest or medicine. It is a sign that you could have a heart attack soon. Variant angina is rare. It happens when you are resting. Medicines can help. Not all chest pain or discomfort is angina. If you have chest pain, you should see your health care provider.