Nurse with patient

5 Simple Heart Health Tips

December 30th, 2016

Each New Year brings new resolutions: to be more successful at work, to nurture stronger relationships, and – most commonly – to achieve optimal health and wellness. While many resolutions (35% of them, to be exact) are given up on by the end of January, there are some that are well worth sticking to. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle to improve heart health is one of them.

Keep these five simple heart health tips in mind as you venture into 2017:

  1. Choose to lose. If you are overweight, losing as little as 5-10 pounds may reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke. Maintaining a healthy weight also helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

  2. Quit smoking. Smoking in and of itself increases your risk of developing coronary heart disease. Smokers have a higher risk of developing blocked arteries, which can ultimately lead to heart attack or stroke.

  3. Working out works. Exercising as little as 20-30 minutes each day helps to decrease bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol, reduce triglycerides, and lower blood pressure.

  4. Manage stress. When you live in a constant state of stress, your body is working overtime to return your heart rate and blood pressure to normal levels. Chronic stress can, in time, weaken your overall immune system. If you're suffering from increased stress, the American Heart Association has several recommendations for stress management.

  5. Develop healthy habits. Healthy eating habits lead to benefits that last. Good health begins with good nutrition. Learn about heart-healthy foods and ways to teach good health habits to children to provide them with knowledge for long-term wellness.

For more tips on exercise, diet, and prevention, click here to read up on what our doctors at the Cardiology Group of WNY recommend.

Heart Attack Aftercare

November 10th, 2016

You or your loved one recently suffered from a heart attack. Now what? 

Depending on the severity of the heart attack and smoothness of surgery, heart attack patients can be discharged from the hospital in as little as 3-5 days. Before leaving the hospital, be sure to ask yours (or your loved one's) doctors any questions you may have.

If your medical team prescribes new medications, which they likely will, write down the schedule for taking them and be sure to check the safety of continuing other medications that were being taken before the event, if any. Remember to NEVER discontinue medication without first clearing it with a medical professional! Even something as seemingly simple as Aspirin should be continued until your physician instructs otherwise.

Heart attack patients will likely be given a cardiac rehabilitation protocol to follow on discharge. These exercises are important to build up normal cardiac function, but be sure to trust your body's cues when it comes to conditioning. For caregivers, encouraging heart attack patients is helpful during these rehabilitation times, as patients can often get frustrated and/or overwhelmed when they experience new setbacks in their physical ability.

Roughly 20% of heart attack sufferers will experience depression, anxiety, and denial after their cardiac event. If left untreated, these issues can delay progress in rehabilitation and lessen overall quality of life. If you notice yourself or your loved one showing any signs of these psychological issues, early intervention through therapy or antidepressant medication can help. Your cardiologist and/or physician will be able to recommend the best plan of action to take if needed.

The most important thing to remember after suffering from a heart attack (or in caring for a heart attack patient) is that everyone heals differently. Try not to get discouraged if the "bouncing back" doesn't happen as quickly as you had hoped.

By following doctors' orders, working through the proper cardiac rehabilitation programs, maintaining a healthy frame of mind, and being consistent with follow-up care and appointments, life will be back to normal before you know it!

As always, if you have any questions or cardiac concerns, reach out to our experienced, knowledgeable team of cardiologists or make an appointment at any of our three Western New York locations by calling 1-800-639-HEART.

What to Expect at Your Cardiac Consultation

October 24th, 2016

Setting up your first cardiology appointment is an important first step in maintaining, monitoring, and improving your cardiac health. While there are a lot of things to consider, there’s no need to be anxious.

If you’ve never had a cardiology consultation before, here’s a quick breakdown on what to expect:

Our physicians will visit with you at any of our offices or in affiliated hospitals. We first perform a cardiac evaluation and assess your risk for developing heart disease based your health history and a physical exam. From there, we typically use an ECG (electrocardiogram) to decide if you will need further testing to determine your heart's condition.

An ECG shows the heart’s activity as line tracings on paper. The test is simple, noninvasive, and painless, and consists of placing electrodes on the skin to monitor and record the electrical activity of your heart over a set period of time.

Depending on the results of your ECG, we will work to develop a treatment plan customized to you and send a full report to your referring physician.

As they say: Knowledge is power. Hopefully this recap will help calm your nerves before your consultation. If you have additional questions or concerns, feel free to contact us at 1-800-639-HEART.

For more information on our clinical services, click here.

New Option for Patients with Heart Disease

July 11th, 2016

Patients who are either too sick or otherwise at high-risk for traditional aortic heart surgery may now have another option.

Doctors at Mercy Hospital in South Buffalo are using a new procedure called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), a less invasive treatment that may be the right approach for some patients with aortic valve disease. Instead of opening up the chest cavity to completely remove the diseased aortic valve, TAVR allows for the placement of a new valve by inserting it within your diseased aortic valve using a catheter.

Our own Dr. Nadeem U. Haq, a specialist in Interventional Cardiology with Cardiology Group of Western New York, provides this procedure as an option for his patients who qualify.

"TAVR may be appropriate for some patients with a medical history that prevents them from undergoing traditional open heart surgery for aortic valve replacement."

According to the American College of Cardiology, heart disease involving the valves and specifically aortic stenosis (AS) is under reported. The symptoms of AS are often subtle, but eventually angina, or even heart failure can develop over time.

Some symptoms associated with aortic stenosis may include:

  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness

After the onset of symptoms, the average survival rate is 2-3 years with a high risk of sudden death.

You can learn more about our cardiology services, including the TAVR procedure, here. To arrange an appointment with Dr. Haq, call 1-800-639-HEART


5 Habits for a Heart-Healthy Summer

June 7th, 2016

For months, you've been bombarded with media messages that "bikini season is coming!". As we celebrate the start of shorts and sandals weather in Western New York, we thought it would be a great time to highlight a few ways to maintain heart health during the summer months.

5 habits for a heart-healthy summer:

  1. Take a dip. Swimming is one of the best forms of aerobic exercise for heart health and weight control? Just 30 minutes of exercise per day significantly reduces the risk of heart disease, and aerobic exercise (such as swimming, walking, jogging, and biking) has been shown to raise the levels of "good" cholesterol, or HDL. Swimming also improves the health of your arteries - for every 1% bump in HDL, the risk of heart disease decreases by 3.5%! Come on in... the water's fine!

  2. Slice up the watermelon. Watermelon is more than just a summertime favorite. It's a heart-healthy favorite, too! Watermelon contains citrulline and arginine, amino acids that can help maintain arteries, blood flow, and overall cardiovascular function. Along with helping cardiac function, watermelon is also rich in calcium, which strengthens overall bone structures.

  3. Go Fishing. Along with being a relaxing sport, you can reap the rewards of your catch with the heart-healthy benefits of Omega-3s! Eating one to two servings of fish per week can reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack, thanks to the cholesterol-lowering effects of omega 3 fatty acids. Eating fatty fish such as salmon, lake trout, herring, tuna, and sardines contain the most benefit of omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation throughout the body and therefore reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

  4. Fire up the grill. Grilling is typically a healthier way to prepare meats and vegetables as opposed to frying or baking. Because of the way meat cooks on the grill, many of the natural flavors are maintained, meaning you will be less likely to soak your meals in condiments and added butters. Use a rack to ensure the fat drips away from your food while cooking, and choose lean cuts of meat such as loin and round cuts of red meat and pork, or chicken breasts as opposed to legs and thighs. Turkey burgers are also a great alternative to the usual cheeseburger, as they typically contain less calories and saturated fats than beef burgers.

  5. Stay hydrated. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water helps maintain overall health, but did you know that drinking it at certain times of the day has different effects on the body? For instance, having 2 glasses after waking up helps to activate internal organs, 1 glass 30 minutes before eating a meal helps aid digestion, 1 glass before taking a bath or shower helps lower blood pressure, and 1 glass before going to bed helps to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack. Cool down with a cold water throughout the day to maintain overall wellness!

Along with these tips, there are other precautions to take in the heat of summer, such as avoiding the outdoors when the sun is at its strongest, exercising with a friend, dressing properly for the heat, and being aware of the side effects of any medications you may be taking, as certain heart medications can exaggerate the body's response to heat.

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March 1st, 2016

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