The statistics don’t lie: For both men and women in America, heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death, with more than 600,000 people dying from it annually.
For some folks, the cause of their heart disease (and related conditions) are congenital. But for the vast majority of Americans, heart disease can be prevented and/or managed once it’s been diagnosed.
We all know the most basic actions a person can take to reduce his or her risk of having heart disease:
■ Don’t smoke cigarettes (and if you do — quit!).
■ Eat a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.
■ Avoid fried dishes, processed food, and excess sodium and sugar.
■ Exercise regularly.
But regardless of whether you practice any or all of the above actions, you still must be in tune with your own body – especially when it’s giving you warning signs.
That’s certainly the message coming to Palm Beach County residents from the experts in cardiovascular care.
Shortness of breath.
A tight feeling in your chest.
Angina (general heart pain).
These are all symptoms of a potentially serious condition that must be treated immediately.
“As a cardiothoracic surgeon, I can say that we are constantly striving to be the most comprehensive and effective treatment center in Florida — one that’s ready to use the most innovative technology and procedures to care for all of a patient’s cardiac needs,” said Dr. Marcos Nores, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.A.C.C. and Medical Director of the
Heart & Vascular Institute at JFK Medical Center.
In some cases, those needs can’t be quite complex — as it often is with heart failure, which Dr. Waqas Ghumman, M.D. and Medical Director of JFK’s Advanced Heart Care Center described as the “fastest-growing epidemic with cardiovascular disease.”
That’s why, in order to turn heart failure into patient success, Dr. Ghumman explained, “At JFK, we are well-positioned to tackle heart failure by providing the most comprehensive and cutting-edge approaches to both inpatient and outpatient treatment. Our multidisciplinary strategy leaves no treatment option unexplored.”
Sometimes a patient’s symptoms are caused by factors of which they’re not even aware.
For instance, chest pain and pressure, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, fatigue and ankle swelling can be caused by aortic stenosis — “a life-threatening narrowing of the very important valve between the main pumping chamber of the heart and the rest of the body,” explained Dr. Mark Rothenberg, M.D., F.A.C.C. and Medical Director of JFK’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab. “Treatment includes open-heart surgery or transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). Our heart team at JFK Medical Center has performed nearly 800 TAVR procedures over the last five years, making us one of the most experienced hospitals in the nation.”
Another serious heart condition to be aware of is atrial fibrillation — that is, an abnormal heart rhythm.
Sometimes this condition (often colloquially referred to as “a-fib”) can be silent and symptomless.
But, as Dr. Robert Fishel, M.D., F.A.C.C. and Medical Director of JFK’s Electrophysiology Lab, explained, “When a-fib symptoms do occur, they may include rapid and irregular heartbeats, fluttering in the chest, dizziness or lightheadedness, shortness of breath or chest discomfort. It is important to recognize these symptoms, as they could lead to a stroke. JFK’s electrophysiology program is the biggest in the Southeast United States and we are constantly implementing the latest and best treatments available for complex cardiac procedures, such as biventricular defibrillator implants and catheter ablations for atrial fibrillation.”
Heart disease can come in many forms. But, with a little extra awareness, a lot of diligence — and world-class care should the need ever arise — you and your loved ones can avoid succumbing to cardiovascular disease.