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Frequently Asked Questions

Cardiology Services FAQs

Are you or a loved one interested in learning more about cardiac health?

What is Ablation for abnormal heart rhythm?

This is a procedure that helps to clear the causes of arrhythmia (heart rhythm problems). Most of the time, it is done using catheters. It uses radiofrequency energy that is similar to microwave heat to get rid of the heart tissue that is causing the abnormal heart rhythm; due to this, it is also called radiofrequency ablation. In addition, sometimes it uses freezing instead, which is called Cryo-Ablation. These both nullify the abnormal tissue while keeping the rest of the heart tissue safe.
Is it safe?
This is low-risk and successful in most people that get it done. It usually takes place in a special hospital room called an electrophysiology (EP) lab or a cardiac catheterization (Cath) lab. It usually takes around 2-4 hours.
When do people get this procedure?
When people have irregular or rapid heartbeats that are caused by disorganized electrical signals in the heart, it is an indication that you heart may not be pumping blood correctly. This can cause faintness, shortness of breath, or weakness.
While medicines work well for a lot of people, sometimes they don’t. They could also cause unwanted side effects in some people. If this is the case, a doctor could suggest catheter ablation. This procedure can treat supraventricular tachycardia, atrial flutter, and atrial fibrillation.

What is Angina Pectoris?

Also known as Stable angina, these are the medical terms for pain in the chest, or discomfort from coronary heart disease. It happens when the heart doesn’t get enough blood. This can happen due to the heart’s blood vessels being blocked or narrowed. This can cause a feeling of pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain in the chest. This can also cause some pain in your neck, shoulder, jaw, arm, or back. However, there are many types of chest discomfort that aren’t related to angina, such as heartburn, inflammation, or lung infection. Angina in men and women can differ. It usually occurs during physical exertion.
What are the symptoms?
Pain or discomfort during physical exertion, lasts around 5 minutes or less, can be relieved by rest or medicine, can feel like gas or indigestion, can feel like chest pain that spreads to extremities.
What are the possible triggers of Stable Angina?
Emotional stress, very hot or cold temperatures, heavy metals, smoking.
What is the treatment?
Rest, nitroglycerin or both can help reduce the pain. Nitroglycerin relaxes the blood vessels and reduces the heart’s workload. If you experience any symptoms, make sure to visit your doctor for evaluation and possible testing. If you’ve been diagnosed with stable angina, and start getting symptoms more easily and often, see your doctor immediately since it may be a sign of unstable angina.

What is Atrial Fibrillation Surgery?

Open-heart maze procedure is complex. A surgeon makes small cuts in the upper portion of your heart. The cuts get stitched together, forming scar tissue, which interferes with the electrical impulses that cause Atrial Fibrillation. This restores a normal heartbeat.

What is bradycardia?

Bradycardia is a slow heart rate. Too slow is relative to your physical condition and age. For example, elderly people are more prone to bradycardia. Generally, bradycardia for an adult is less than 60 beats per minute for a resting heart rate.
What are some causes?
Problems with the Sinoatrial node, problems in the conduction pathways of the heart, metabolic problems such as hypothyroidism, damage to the heart from heart disease or heart attack, and certain heart medications can cause bradycardia.
What are some symptoms?
Insufficient blood flow to the brain can cause weakness, fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, confusion, fainting, shortness of breath, difficulty exercising, and cardiac arrest.
If left untreated, this can result in heart failure, fainting, chest pain, low blood pressure, and high blood pressure.
What is the treatment?
If the medication is causing the side effects then the regimen can be adjusted or discontinued. Oftentimes, a pacemaker can regulate the heart’s rhythm.

What is Cardiac Arrest?

This condition is the loss of heart function. It can be sudden, or after other symptoms. It is often fatal if the right steps aren’t immediately taken. The term heart attack is often mistakenly used to describe cardiac arrest, but a heart attack can be the cause of cardiac arrest.
Heart attack is the death of heart muscle tissue due to a blocked blood vessel, which is sometimes fatal. Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops beating correctly; death can happen quickly, but if CPR and a shock from a defibrillator are administered within a few minutes, a normal heart rate can be restored.
What are the causes of Cardiac Arrest?
Almost any heart condition can lead to cardiac arrest. Sometimes an extremely slow heart rate (bradycardia) can cause cardiac arrest. Other causes include scarring of the heart tissue, a thickened heart muscle (cardiomyopathy), heart medications, electrical abnormalities, blood vessel abnormalities, and recreational drug use.

What is Cardiac Clearance?

Cardiac clearance is usually requested by a surgeon prior to surgery to ensure no complications occur due to underlying cardiac conditions.

What is Cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy is a general term that means diseases of the heart muscle. There are many signs, symptoms, causes and treatments for the different diseases in the heart. More often than not, cardiomyopathy will make the heart muscle enlarged, thick, or rigid. Rarely, diseased heart muscle tissue will be replaced by scar tissue. As the disease progresses the heart gets weaker, lessening its ability to pump blood through your body, and making it unable to keep a normal heart beat. This can lead to heart failure or arrhythmias, which is an irregular heartbeat. A weak heart can also lead to heart valve problems.
There are several types of Cardiomyopathy, including but not limited to: Dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, restrictive cardiomyopathy, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, and transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy. There are also some called unclassified cardiomyopathy, and stress-induced cardiomyopathy, otherwise known as broken heart syndrome.
The more severe forms of cardiomyopathy require treatments such as medications, implanted devices to correct irregular heartbeats, surgeries, other non-surgical procedures, and lifestyle changes. These can help control symptoms, prevent the disease from getting worse, and help to reduce complications.

What are the causes of heart palpitations?

Heart palpitations, which can feel like your heart is fluttering, skipping a beat, or beating too hard or fast, can be worrisome. Oftentimes, they aren’t serious or harmful and will likely go away without any intervention. They mostly occur due to anxiety, stress, from having too much alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine. Pregnancy can also cause heart palpitations. Rarely, heart palpitations indicate a more serious heart condition. If they’re accompanied with shortness of breath or dizziness, seek immediate medical attention.

What is an echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram is a test that takes pictures of your heart’s valves, walls, blood vessels, and chambers, using sound waves with high frequency. It is also called an echocardiography or diagnostic cardiac ultrasound. This can help your doctor determine the size, shape, movement, and thickness of your heart, how it moves, the pumping strength of the heart, and whether or not the valves are working correctly. The test can also help determine whether or not you have a tumor or infectious growth around your heart, if you have problems with the outer lining, the blood vessels, with blood clots, or if any holes are present in the chambers of your heart. There are no risks or side effects to an echocardiogram.

What is Long QT Syndrome?

Long QT Syndrome is like other arrhythmias in that it is a disorder of the heart’s electrical system, leading to cause the lower chambers of the heart to take too long to contract and release. The name is derived from the letters that are associated with the waveform that is made by the heart’s electrical signals. The time between the letters Q and T is what defines the action of the ventricles, meaning Long QT Syndrome is that the time period it takes is too long, even if by only fractions of a second.
These can occur by everyday instances like when you’re startled by a noise, physical exertion, and intense emotions. In these circumstances, the heartbeat often returns to normal rapidly. Sometimes it is hereditary or can be a side effect of other medications. Symptoms include fainting, fluttering of the chest, and an irregular heartbeat.
Treatment options include medications like beta-blockers, surgical procedures, and implantable cardioverter defibrillator or pace maker.

What are some treatment options for heart palpitations?

Heart palpitations may require treatment. Your doctor can suggest ways to avoid the instances that cause your palpitations to occur. You should reduce stress, avoid stimulants, and avoid illegal drugs. Treatment options may include medications or procedures like ablation, which would depend on the type of response to initial treatments.

What is Shortness of Breath?

Shortness of breath can occur in many situations. For instance, physical exertion can cause shortness of breath. Be sure to see your doctor and see if this might be a symptom of an underlying condition. Oftentimes, this is an indication of problems with the blood flow in your body.
What is the treatment for shortness of breath?
Since shortness of breath can be an indication of many different conditions, you should consult with your doctor to see what treatment options they recommend.

What is slow heart rate? (bradycardia)

Bradycardia is a slow heart rate. Too slow is relative to your physical condition and age. For example, elderly people are more prone to bradycardia. Generally, bradycardia for an adult is less than 60 beats per minute for a resting heart rate.
What are some causes?
Problems with the sinoatrial node, problems in the conduction pathways of the heart, metabolic problems such as hypothyroidism, damage to the heart from heart disease or heart attack, and certain heart medications can cause bradycardia.
What are some symptoms?
Insufficient blood flow to the brain can cause weakness, fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, confusion, fainting, shortness of breath, difficulty exercising, and cardiac arrest.
If left untreated, this can result in heart failure, fainting, chest pain, low blood pressure, and high blood pressure.
What is the treatment?
If the medication is causing the side effects then the regimen can be adjusted or discontinued. Oftentimes, a pacemaker can regulate the heart’s rhythm.

What is syncope?

Syncope is also referred to as fainting or “passing out”. It is usually caused by an inadequate amount of blood flow to the brain. Oftentimes it happens due to low blood pressure (hypotension), and the heart can’t pump enough oxygen to the brain. Sometimes it can be caused by dehydration, heavy sweating, overheating, exhaustion, or sudden changes in body position. Heart conditions like tachycardia, bradycardia, or blood flow obstruction can also cause syncope.
If you are experiencing warning signs of dizziness or fainting, nausea, or sweaty palms, you should sit or lie down. A doctor might perform a physical and an EKG to see if there are any heart problems that may be causing syncope.

What is ventricular tachycardia?

Ventricular tachycardia is rapid heart rate that begins in the heart’s lower portions (ventricles). The severity is dependent largely on whether other cardiac conditions are present, and the degree of the ventricular tachycardia. Ventricular tachycardia mostly comes along with conditions that interfere with the heart’s electrical system, such as: cardiomyopathy, illicit drug use, sarcoidosis, medication side effects, or a lack of coronary artery blood flow.
Ventricular tachycardia can cause dizziness, nausea, falling unconscious, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, palpitations, and in extreme cases, cardiac arrest. Treatment options include medication, surgery, radiofrequency ablation, and in extreme cases, immediate electrical defibrillation.

What is an EKG or ECG?

This is a test called an electrocardiogram that measures the heart’s electrical activity. With each heartbeat, an electrical impulse goes through the heart in the upper and lower chambers. The EKG will show the timing of these electrical impulses.
Is it safe?
Yes! There is no pain or risk involved with having this test done. When the stickers are removed, it may be slightly uncomfortable.
When do people get this test?
EKG measures how long it takes for the electrical impulses to go through the heart. This can let the doctor know if is slow, fast, or irregular. The EKG also measures the amount of electrical impulses that are passing through the heart, which can let the doctor know if certain parts of the heart are oversized or working too much.

What is Aortic Stenosis?

Aortic Stenosis is when the aortic valve narrows. This restricts the blood flow from the left ventricle of the heart to the aorta and can also affect the pressure in the left atrium. This condition oftentimes doesn’t cause symptoms until the blood flow becomes reduced by significant amounts.
What are the symptoms of Aortic Stenosis?
Symptoms include: breathlessness, chest pain (angina), pressure, fainting, heart palpitations, heavy or pounding heartbeats, decline in activity level, or a reduction in your ability to do normal activities that require only mild energy, and heart murmurs.
Children and infants who have this condition can display fatigue, failure to gain weight, unwillingness to eat, and breathing problems.
What are the treatments available?
Get checked with and EKG. If deemed necessary by your doctor, valve repair, or valve replacement, are both possible options. Nowadays, replacement of the valve by a catheter base procedure has become routine, too.

What are some treatment options for Atrial Fibrillation?

Treatment begins with proper diagnoses from a doctor. This usually involves giving your medical history and oftentimes an EKG, or cardiac monitors. Treatment depends on the severity and any other medical issues that you might have. You will want to discuss your treatment options with your doctor. These may include medications, nonsurgical procedures, and surgical procedures.

Medications can include blood thinners such as antiplatelets and anticoagulants, rate controllers, and rhythm controllers (not a comprehensive list, check with your doctor).

Non-surgical procedures for Atrial Fibrillation are:

Electrical Cardioversion (the rhythm reset). The patient receives a mild shock on the chest (using paddles or patches) while under mild anesthesia. This can reset the heart to a normal rhythm. This procedure is similar to defibrillation, but with lower levels of electri­­­­city.

Radiofrequency ablation or catheter ablation is an electrical mapping of the heart is performed before ablation surgery using an electrically sensitive catheter, which finds the “extra” electrical activity throughout the heart.­­­­­

Some common types of ablation for AF are: Pulmonary vein isolation ablation, which is when the catheter tip is destroys the tissue sending extra currents. This is a procedure that helps to clear the causes of arrhythmia (heart rhythm problems). Most of the time, it is done using catheters. It uses radiofrequency energy that is similar to microwave heat to get rid of the heart tissue that is causing the abnormal heart rhythm; due to this, it is also called radiofrequency ablation. In addition, sometimes it uses freezing instead, which is called Cryo-Ablation. These both nullify the abnormal tissue while keeping the rest of the heart tissue safe.

AV Node ablation with pacemakers is used for patients whose AF occurs in the AV node, and the catheter is placed near the AV node and destroys a small area of tissue. A pacemaker is then implanted to maintain the heart’s rhythm.

What is Brugada Syndome?

Brugada syndrome is a genetic disorder that can result in ventricular arrhythmia, causing a dangerous irregular heartbeat. This could cause fainting or death, especially at times of sleep or rest. Brugada syndrome has also been known as sudden, unexplained nocturnal death syndrome.
Who is at risk?
Mostly, people of Asian, Japanese, and Southeast Asian descendants are at greatest risk, men being more 8 to 10 times more at risk than women. Genetic testing for the SCN5A gene can help determine your risk.
What are the symptoms of Brugada?
Heart palpitations, fainting, seizures, sudden death or cardiac arrest are the typical symptoms.
What is the treatment for Brugada?
There is currently no cure; however, an implanted cardioverter defibrillator can help prevent sudden death related to Brugada.

What is Cardiac Catheterization Procedure?

Cardiac Catheterization procedure is done to check how efficient your heart is working by inserting a tube into your blood vessel leading to your heart. It is done to check to see if you have any heart muscle, valve, or artery disease. Cardiac Catheterization can identify potential problems, and enables the ability for procedures to open blocked arteries. This procedure can also check your oxygen levels in the different chambers of your heart, and allow for the removal of a small piece of heart tissue to examine under a microscope.
Coronary angiography, which happens during a cardiac catheterization, is a contrast dye that is visible in X-rays that is injected through the catheter. The X-ray image shows the flow of the dye through the arteries and will let the doctor know where the artery is blocked.
Is it safe?
Cardiac catheterization generally considered very safe. Sometimes bruising can develop where the catheter was inserted. Additionally, the X-ray dye can cause some nausea, itchiness, or hives.

What is a Cardiologist?

A cardiologist is a heart specialist that diagnoses and treats diseases relating to the cardiovascular system. They conduct tests, and oftentimes do procedures. Finding the right cardiologist is important since the number one cause of death worldwide is heart disease.

What is Cardioversion?

Cardioversion is a way to get your heartbeat back to normal. Irregular heartbeats are called arrhythmias. The two possibilities of cardioversion are pharmacological (medicinal) cardioversion, or electrical cardioversion which is sending an electrical shock to the heart to restore a regular heartbeat. Mostly, doctors will use cardioversion to fix a fast, abnormal heartbeat called atrial fibrillation.
What are the risks associated with cardioversion?
Cardioversion can loosen a blood clot, which could make its way to your brain, causing a stroke. To prevent this, your doctor could give you some medicine to make it less likely for your blood to form clots. This medicine will need to be taken for two or three weeks prior to the cardioversion procedure.
Cardioversion isn’t guaranteed to bring back a normal heartbeat. If it fails, medicines, a pacemaker, or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator can help.

What is chest pain (Angina)?

Chest pain is when your heart isn’t getting enough oxygen. It can feel like a squeezing in your chest, or pressure. This can also lead to discomfort in your arms, neck, jaw, shoulders, or back. It can also feel like indigestion. Angina is not a disease, but is one of the symptoms of an underlying heart condition, usually indicating coronary heart disease or coronary microvascular disease.
There are many different types of angina, including stable angina, variant angina, unstable angina, microvasuclar angina, and Prinzmetal’s angina. These usually occur due to one or more of the blood vessels being blocked or narrowed, which is also called ischemia.
Risk factors for angina include:
Risk for heart disease or coronary microvascular disease also puts you at risk for angina. These risk factors include inactivity, smoking, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, unhealthy diet, high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, older age, and a family history of early heart disease.
Diagnosing angina
Your doctor is likely to perform a physical, ask about your symptoms, family history, risk factors, and any other cardiovascular issues. Unstable angina may require emergency medical treatment in order to prevent heart attacks

What is heart failure?

Heart failure simply means that the heart isn’t pumping blood optimally. It is a serious condition and oftentimes has no cure, but can be managed with heart failure medications and lifestyle changes. Patients with heart failure can still lead a full and enjoyable life.
What are the different types of heart failure?
There are three types of heart failure: Left, right, and congestive. Right sided failure results in a backup in the area that collects deoxygenated blood from the body. Left sided failure is a failure of the left side to adequately pump out oxygenated blood to the rest of the body. Congestive heart failure is where fluid backs up into the lungs and tissues. This requires seeking timely medical attention.
What are the causes of heart failure?
There are a myriad of things that can lead to heart failure, including, but not limited to, lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, and physical inactivity. Many conditions, mostly heart conditions, can lead to heart failure, such as: coronary artery disease, past heart attack, abnormal heart valves, heart muscle disease, heart defects present at birth, severe lung disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, low red blood cell count, an overactive thyroid gland, and irregular heart rhythm.
What are the treatment options?
Treatment can include lifestyle changes, devices, medications, and surgical procedures.

What is mitral regurgitation?

Mitral regurgitation is when the blood in the heart leaks back through the mitral valve whenever the left ventricle contracts. This allows blood flow in two directions, some correctly through the aortic valve, and some goes back into the atrium. This can increase blood volume and therefore, pressure in the area. If severe, this can lead to fluid pressure in the veins to the lungs, which can cause a build-up of blood in the lungs.
When the condition is more severe it can cause heart palpitations, heart failure, shortness of breath during exertion, coughing, congestion around the heart and lungs, and swelling of the legs and feet.

What is Pre-OP Clearance?

This is when you need clearance for an upcoming surgery. This will require a physical exam, becoming educated on your upcoming surgery, attending all your appointments, taking your medications as directed by your doctor, reducing or quitting smoking, eating healthy, getting plenty of rest, and making transportation arrangements with friends or family.

What is Sinus Tachycardia?

Tachycardia is a range of heart rate that is too rapid. The range is dependent on your age and physical fitness level. In general, over 100 beats per minute at a resting heart rate is considered to be tachycardia. Sinus tachycardia is considered a normal increase in the heart rate. It could be a response of your body to normal scenarios such as anxiety, fright, severe emotional distress, strenuous exercise, fever, and some medicinal or street drugs. Less common causes can be due to anemia, increased thyroid activity, heart muscle damage from heart attack or heart failure or severe bleeding.
What is the treatment for sinus tachycardia?
Rather than taking medicine to lower your heart rate, your doctor will likely take a look at what is causing the tachycardia. Simply slowing the heart rate can be more harmful to your health.

What is supraventricular tachycardia?

This is a rapid heart rate that begins in the upper parts of your heart. The electrical signals in the upper portions of your heart are being sent out abnormally. This interferes with the electrical impulses that come from your sinoatrial (SA) node. This can result in a more rapid heart rate than what is considered normal. This prevents the heart’s chambers from filling up completely between contractions, which reduces blood flow to the body.
Who is at risk?
Supraventricular tachycardia is the most common type of arrhythmia in children. Women are at greater risk than men. Young people that suffer from anxiety are also at risk. Additionally, people who are physically fatigued, who drink large amounts of caffeine, alcohol, or smoke heavily.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of supraventricular tachycardia include: shortness of breath, chest pressure, fatigue, rapid heart beat or palpitations, lightheadedness or dizziness, fainting, bounding pulse or chest pain. In severe cases, unconsciousness and cardiac arrest can result.
What are the treatment options?
Treatment might not be needed unless the episodes recur often, or last a while. Your doctor can recommend simple solutions like cutting down on caffeinated substances, alcohol, tobacco, or getting more rest. Other treatment options include, sedation, using the dive reflex, pressing gently on the eyeballs with eyes closed ( under supervision of a doctor), valsalva maneuver (holding your nostrils closed while blowing air through your nose), and carotid sinus massage (a healthcare professional can gently apply pressure on your neck, where the carotid artery splits).

What is tachycardia?

Tachycardia is when your heart rate is too rapid. The range for too rapid is dependent on your age and physical condition. In general, an adult’s heart rate above 100 beats per minute is too rapid. There are three types, including atrial or supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), sinus tachycardia, and ventricular tachycardia.
SVT is a rapid heart rate that begins in the upper parts of your heart. The electrical signals in the upper portions of your heart are being sent out abnormally. This interferes with the electrical impulses that come from your sinoatrial (SA) node. This can result in a more rapid heart rate than what is considered normal. This prevents the heart’s chambers from filling up completely between contractions, which reduces blood flow to the body.
Sinus tachycardia is considered a normal increase in the heart rate. It could be a response of your body to normal scenarios such as anxiety, fright, severe emotional distress, strenuous exercise, fever, and some medicinal or street drugs. Less common causes can be due to anemia, increased thyroid activity, heart muscle damage from heart attack or heart failure or severe bleeding.
Ventricular tachycardia is rapid heart rate that begins in the heart’s lower portions (ventricles). The severity is dependent largely on whether other cardiac conditions are present, and the degree of the ventricular tachycardia. Ventricular tachycardia mostly comes along with conditions that interfere with the heart’s electrical system, such as: cardiomyopathy, illicit drug use, sarcoidosis, medication side effects, or a lack of coronary artery blood flow.
Ventricular tachycardia can cause dizziness, nausea, falling unconscious, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, palpitations, and in extreme cases, cardiac arrest.
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