Medical Monday Heart Health Part Two

Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 12:56 PM EST
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - While many automatically think heart attack when they hear heart disease, there are other diseases connected to the heart. Heart disease can present in several different ways, not just as heart attacks. Dr. Rodolfo Aldir, Medical Director of Cardiology Services at Northern Light AR Gould Hospital says, “We have to be very aware that we have vascular disease that effects the aorta and the circulation. There are inflammatory conditions that can effect the arteries. When we talk about valvular heart disease. The heart has valves that can become infected with infection or inflammation. You also have the possibility of the valves becoming infected from other sources. And then we also have the cardiomyopathies. So the cardiomyopathies is where the heart muscle itself can be infected.”

Dr. Thomas Buckingham, a Staff Cardiologist at Northern Light AR Gould Hospital says, “Stress and anxiety can play a role, sometimes we see people, you see patients, if they have some sort of severe stress in their life, loss of a loved one, loss of a spouse or a significant other. Sometimes this can cause enough stress that they will have a heart attack, even though their coronary arteries are completely clear.”

Dr. Aldir adds, genetically there can also be conditions that cause the overgrowth of heart muscle. Symptoms can differ dependent on what type of heart disease you have. He adds, “Normally for say, valvular problems, it may well be more issues of shortness of breath, fatigue, issues when the heart muscles being effected would present with regards to tiredness and individuals may not be able to sleep well laying flat, they may have to sleep on multiple pillows. We may notice that there is more swelling in their extremities, they’re not mobilizing fluid correctly. So, those tend to manifest themselves more as exertional capacity.”

Prevention for heart disease often involves changing your lifestyle.

Dr. Buckingham says, “We know that the lifestyle, the type of life you live and the lifestyle choices you make does effect your chance of heart disease. Hypertension, high cholesterol we can treat that. Sometimes it’s just a matter of changing diet, putting less salt in your food. Or other times we have various medications to treat these problems. Then if someone actually gets heart disease then we have various medications we can use or quite often we start off with various tests. In my office we always start with the simple things first.”

Both add exercise is also an important part of heart health. If you have any questions or are concerned you may have heart disease, both recommend reaching out to you primary care physician.

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