Heart attacks and heart disease claim countless lives in Roswell, and the surrounding area each year. In fact, more than one million Americans will have a heart attack this year, and heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States.
Nearly 81 million Americans have some form of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. Heart disease covers a broad range of heart conditions, including heart attacks, high blood pressure, stroke and heart failure. Some people are born with conditions, that can lead to heart disease at a young age. An example of this would be type 1 diabetes. Other risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or smoking can make atherosclerosis (the narrowing of the arteries in any part of your body) develop later in life and can lead to the debilitating diseases as described above.
There are many ways to protect ourselves against heart disease. Some of these lifestyle changes would be to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, maintain your proper weight, smoking cessation and watching your cholesterol. Also, if you have problems such as elevated cholesterol or hypertension, it is important to take your medication to prevent worsening of your condition.
Years ago, the first warning sign of a heart attack was chest pain. Now, cardiologists can tell us much more about the health of our hearts simply by doing noninvasive tests, discussing our lifestyle or doing a thorough physical examination. The good news is that many heart problems can be prevented or corrected with proper treatment, lifestyle changes or medication.
Eastern New Mexico Medical Center offers the following cardiac services:
This is the practice of preventing you from having your first heart attack or stroke. Also, this involves preventing you from having your second or third heart attack or stroke if you have already had one in the past. This is probably the most important part of our cardiovascular clinic practice. We can prevent the first heart attack or stroke or prevent recurrences generally by lifestyle changes and making sure you are on the correct medication. On the other hand, if you are on medication that is not going to do you any good, then we would quickly get rid of that and put you on the correct medication. Clearly, if possible, you do not want to have that first heart attack or stroke, particularly at an early age. This is the importance of preventive cardiology.
Nuclear imaging helps physicians diagnose heart conditions. The nuclear technology is paired with stress testing and allows cardiologists to measure blood flow and determine if there is any narrowing or stenosis in any of the arterial vessels around the heart. Not everybody with narrowing of the coronary arteries needs to have a balloon, stent, or bypass surgery. Generally, to be considered “significant,” a blockage has to be at least 70 percent narrowed. Many people can be treated medically and live a long and productive life without any type of procedure.
Catheterization – Angiography
The cardiac catheterization laboratory is solely dedicated to diagnostic tests to help pinpoint the location and status of heart problems. A cardiac catheterization can detect heart problems in your blood vessels around the heart, your heart valves, or your heart muscle. Minimally invasive and painless, these procedures allow the cardiac team to evaluate the problems listed previously. During a heart catheterization, a thin plastic tube, a catheter, is inserted into an artery in your wrist or groin, and then advanced to the hearts pumping chambers and/or coronary arteries. It should be noted that at Eastern New Mexico Medical Center, we are the only cardiac catheterization laboratory that does the majority of our studies through the wrist. This provides increased patient convenience, and increased safety when we perform these procedures.
Coronary Intervention (PCI) – Balloon Angioplasty and Stent
At the same time you are undergoing your cardiac catheterization, if a blockage (stenosis) is found in one of your vessels (coronary artery) many times this can be fixed with a balloon and/or stent. By using balloons or stents, a narrowing that is 70-100 percent in a blood vessel can be reduced to 0 percent and basically look like new! If you are having a certain type of heart attack (ST segment elevation MI) the vessel is usually 100 percent blocked! The sooner blood flow is restored, by opening the vessel with a balloon or stent, the better your outcome will be from the heart attack. Eastern New Mexico Medical Center is not only an accredited chest pain center, but the only medical center in this region that performs emergency percutaneous coronary intervention for people who are having a heart attack.
Also known as an EKG, an electrocardiogram is a simple test that records the hearts electrical activity and pinpoints the source of heart problems, if they are present. Some of the heart problems that can be detected by a simple EKG include evidence of a recent or old heart attack, irregular heartbeat and also the heart size and muscle thickness can be estimated.
A cardiac stress test is performed while the patient is walking on a treadmill. The stress test can measure overall cardiac fitness, however, this is the test that is usually used first to try to detect if the person has any significant blockages in the blood vessels around the heart.
We take your heart health seriously at Eastern New Mexico Medical Center. We are continually expanding our services that we offer so that patients can take care of their cardiac issues without going out of town.
Learn more about the cardiac care services at Eastern New Mexico Medical Center at enmmc.com. View upcoming free community education classes and heart-healthy recipes by clicking on “healthy living” and “healthy recipes.” You can also test your heart knowledge by clicking on “health resources” and “interactive tools” to take a coronary artery disease risk assessment and/or quiz on heart disease risk and prevention.
Fundador Adajar is a medical doctor with Eastern New Mexico Medical Group Cardiovascular Specialists. The advice offered in this column is that of the author.