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Understanding Myocarditis

Myocarditis is a serious type of heart disease that requires close monitoring by cardiologists. Thousands of people of all ages are diagnosed with this condition each year. Although myocarditis is relatively rare, it is important to be informed about the symptoms so you can see a heart doctor for evaluation if they appear. Here is what you need to know about this condition.

Causes

Myocarditis is a type of inflammation of the heart that leads to muscle damage. It is usually caused by a virus, such as a respiratory infection, or an autoimmune disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Occasionally, it is triggered by cocaine use, exposure to toxic metals, or venomous snake or spider bites. Most people who get myocarditis are otherwise healthy and don’t have other heart conditions. It can occur at any age and is a leading cause of sudden death in young patients.

Symptoms

The first and most common symptom of myocarditis is shortness of breath, usually after exertion. Typically, the shortness of breath will progress until you have difficulty breathing while lying down at night. Leg swelling, fatigue, heart palpitations, and chest pain may also occur, as can unconsciousness and lightheadedness. Some patients have severe symptoms while others experience few, if any, signs of the disease. If myocarditis is caused by an infection, symptoms usually occur seven to 14 days after the initial infection.

Treatment

If you are diagnosed with myocarditis through an ECG, x-ray, MRI, or heart biopsy, your heart doctor will treat you with medications, and in some cases, implantable devices such as pacemakers and implantable defibrillators. Most people recover from myocarditis with no long-term side effects, but some patients experience chronic heart disease and require ongoing treatment and even a heart transplant.

If you experience heart disease symptoms, make an appointment for a consultation at Cardiac Solutions. Our cardiologists near Phoenix treat a range of conditions and can help you manage your heart health. For more information about our services and cardiologists, please call (623) 876-8816.

Tips for Adjusting to a Pacemaker

An implantable cardiac device, such as a pacemaker, can dramatically improve your quality of life, but some adjustment is necessary at first. If your heart doctor recommends a pacemaker because of heart disease, he or she will give you tips on making a smooth transition. These tips will also help.

After you get a pacemaker, start by scheduling post-implantation check-ups so that your heart doctor can track the effectiveness of your device. If you hear a noise coming from your device, let your doctor know right away so he or she can make necessary adjustments. Passing through airport security and store anti-theft detectors is generally safe if you walk through swiftly and move away. Talk to your doctor about using home power tools, as some could interfere with your device.

The cardiologists in Phoenix at Cardiac Solutions can help you live with a full life with your implantable cardiac device . Whether you have recently been diagnosed with heart disease or need treatment for a heart arrhythmia, we can help. To make an appointment with one of our cardiologists, please call (623) 876-8816.

The Patient’s Guide to Using Coumadin

Coumadin–or warfarin, which is the generic name–is a medication used by cardiologists to treat and prevent blood clots. Because Coumadin has several side effects, it is important for patients taking it to follow all of their doctors’ recommendations and to have regular check-ups. If your heart doctor has recently prescribed Coumadin for you, here is what you need to know.

What is Coumadin?

Coumadin is an anticoagulant. It helps to keep blood flowing and cuts the risk of blood clots by reducing the amount of proteins that encourage clotting in your blood. Your heart doctor may prescribe Coumadin if you have atrial fibrillation or another type of heart arrhythmia, have recently had a heart attack, or if you have had a heart valve replacement surgery.

What are the Side Effects?

Coumadin can cause bloating, gas, altered taste, and gastrointestinal problems in some patients. The most significant risk of taking Coumadin is uncontrolled bleeding, which could be fatal. This risk is highest when beginning taking Coumadin and for patients who take high doses of the medicine. Your heart doctor will discuss your health history with you, including your history of bleeding disorders, to determine if Coumadin is the right medicine for you.

How is It Managed?

When you take Coumadin, you will need regular blood tests to determine how the medicine is working. The effect of Coumadin can vary dramatically from week to week, so your dose may need to be adjusted regularly. Your heart doctor may also recommend that you eat a special diet when you are on Coumadin. In particular, it is important to control your intake of foods that contain vitamin K, such as spinach and kale, as they can affect the way Coumadin works.

At Cardiac Solutions, we offer a Coumadin clinic to help patients taking this medication reduce their side effects and manage it effectively. For more information about our cardiologists or treatments for high cholesterol and heart conditions in Phoenix , call our clinic now at (623) 876-8816.

Plaque and Your Heart

Plaque builds in your arteries but is actually a danger to your heart. If you have plaque build-up associated with coronary artery disease, your heart doctor will work with you to manage it and reduce further damage.

Watch this video to learn about the link between plaque and heart disease. Plaque builds up in your arteries, causing them to narrow. Eventually, plaque can cause a blood clot that stops blood flow to the heart and causes a heart attack.

At Cardiac Solutions, our cardiologists near Phoenix offer care for heart disease and conditions that impact your heart health, including coronary artery disease . To find out more about how our heart doctors can help you live better with heart disease, please call (623) 876-8816.

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Rating Your Risk of Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation , also known as AF, is a type of heart arrhythmia that affects millions of Americans. It drastically increases your risk of stroke and should be closely managed by a heart doctor. Although you can’t completely prevent AF, understanding your risk can help you take steps to reduce the odds that you will get it. If you have any of these conditions, talk to your doctor about your atrial fibrillation risk.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure occurs when blood rushes through your arteries at higher pressures than is healthy. This causes the blood to push against the artery walls, which can cause them to weaken and could lead to blood clots that cause heart damage, heart attack, and strokes. The heart damage caused by high blood pressure can lead to AF–in fact, untreated high blood pressure is the most common cause of this type of heart arrhythmia. Managing your blood pressure can reduce your AF risk and help control it if you have already been diagnosed.

Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease , or coronary artery disease, as it is sometimes called, occurs when plaque build-up in your arteries caused by high cholesterol makes your arteries become narrow. This reduces the flow of nutrient-rich blood to your heart, which in turn can lead to damage to your heart muscle as it is starved of the nutrients it needs. The damage caused by coronary heart disease can change the way your heart pumps and lead to arrhythmias, including AF. Reducing your cholesterol can prevent and manage coronary heart disease and the associated effects, including AF.

Heart Failure

Heart failure does not mean that the heart stops beating. It means that it works less efficiently than it did when it was healthy. Heart failure is caused by damage to the heart muscle, and one of the outcomes of the changes associated with it can be AF.

When you or a loved one is diagnosed with atrial fibrillation in Phoenix, Cardiac Solutions can help. Get on the road to better heart health today and make an appointment for cardiac care by calling (623) 876-8816.

Foods That Raise LDL Cholesterol

LDL cholesterol is the type of cholesterol your heart doctor is concerned with when he or she talks to you about your risk for coronary heart disease. The foods you choose can have a significant impact on your LDL levels. Watch this video to learn more about foods to avoid when you’re trying to reduce LDL cholesterol.

LDL cholesterol levels are increased by eating foods that are high in saturated fats. These foods tend to be animal proteins, such as fatty cuts of meat. Full-fat dairy products are also major sources of saturated fats, so your heart doctor might suggest that you reduce your intake of these foods to control your LDL levels.

If you are concerned about your high cholesterol and your risk of heart disease, talk to a heart doctor in Phoenix at Cardiac Solutions. To schedule an appointment with one of our cardiologists, please call (623) 876-8816.

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Diseases That Increase Your Risk of Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure is a chronic and progressive condition in which the heart functions weaker than normal. It does not mean that the heart stops but instead that it can’t work as efficiently to supply the body with nutrients it needs. About six million people in the US are living with heart failure, and it is the leading reason for hospitalizations in people over 65. Several conditions contribute to congestive heart failure, so if you have one of these diseases, talk to your doctor about ways you can cut your risk of developing it.

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease , or CAD, occurs when the arteries that supply the heart with blood and oxygen become narrowed or completely blocked. The lack of blood flow starves the heart of the nutrients it needs. CAD is usually caused by plaque build-up in the arteries as the result of high cholesterol. CAD can lead to a heart attack if the flow of blood to the heart is stopped completely. While CAD can itself lead to heart failure with or without a heart attack, the damage done to the heart muscle during a heart attack can dramatically increase your risk.

Cardiomyopathy

With cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle becomes enlarged, thickened, or stiffened. The condition is progressive, and as a result, the heart’s ability to pump is compromised, which leads to congestive heart failure. There are three types of cardiomyopathy – dilated, hypertrophic, and restrictive – and the treatment your heart doctor recommends depends on the type you have.

Non-Cardiac Conditions

Non-cardiac conditions that put a strain on the heart can also cause heart failure. These include thyroid disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Often, managing these conditions if you have them can reduce your risk of developing heart failure.

At Cardiac Solutions , our team works closely with heart failure patients to help them control symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. If you have been diagnosed with a heart disease, including congestive heart failure in Phoenix, schedule an appointment at our clinic today by calling (623) 876-8816.