Is Stress Linked to Heart Disease?

Cardiac Health | Monday, July 29th, 2013 | No Comments

Learn how your stress impacts your heart.

Because heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., it is important to identify risk factors and causes. There is not enough evidence to show how stress contributes to heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. However, high stress is labeled as risk factor.

The effects of stress on the heart have been noted. It all comes down to a chain of events.

  1. Release of hormones. When you are stressed, your body reacts by releasing adrenaline.  
  2. The body responds. Adrenaline is responsible for speeding up your breathing and increasing your heart rate.
  3. Chronic problem. Constant or chronic stress leads to increased heart rate causing higher blood pressure.
  4. Too much pressure. High blood pressure then causes damage to the artery leading to heart disease.

Reducing stress may not be a sole preventive measure for heart disease, but it does improve your overall health. Fight off stress with these recommendations:

  • Talk to family and friends.
  • Engage in daily physical activity.
  • Accept the things you cannot change.
  • Remember to laugh.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Cut back on caffeine.
  • Try not worry.

Keeping your stress and blood pressure in check will help you stay in control of your health. The Central Florida Cardiac & Vascular Institute is your ally in obtaining your optimal heart health. If you have heart health related questions, or need a physician referral, call our Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-800-447-8206.

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How Much Sugar is In That?

How to be Healthy | Monday, July 22nd, 2013 | No Comments

Don't let your sweet tooth affect your heart health.

There are two types of sugar Americans consume as identified by the American Heart Association (AHA):

  • Naturally occurring –  fructose found in fruit
  • Added sugars –  the sugar you put in your coffee or high-fructose corn syrup used in the production of cereal

The skinny on sugar
The truth is your body doesn't need sugar to function properly. Limiting sugar intake cuts down on empty calories.The AHA recommends a maximum sugar consumption of 44 grams per day for men and 30 grams per day for women.

Sugar shock
With those recommendations in minds, it is easy to see how you could blow your sugar budget really quickly. Consider the sugar content of the following foods and beverages:

  • 12 oz. can of soda – 33 grams 
  • 1/2 cup of raisins – 43 grams
  • 8 oz. of fruited yogurt – 43 grams
  • 1 cup unsweetened grape juice – 35 grams
  • 1/2 cup sweetened apple sauce – 19 grams
  • 1/2 cup of granola – 13 grams
  • 1/2 cup of banana – 9 grams
  • 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce – 7 grams

Aftershock effects
Excessive sugar consumption can negatively impact heart health initially by increasing body mass. Added sugars are empty calories that can cause you to gain weight. Being overweight or obese makes your heart work harder and puts your at risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes. Some studies have also linked sugar consumption to high levels of blood fats.

Reduce sugar consumption

  • Cut back on the amount of sugar you to add to beverages and food like coffee, tea and cereal.
  • Buy fresh fruits instead of canned fruit packed in syrup.
  • Enhance food with spices instead of sugar.
  • Try zero-calorie sweeteners.

The Central Florida Cardiac and Vascular Institute at Osceola Regional Medical Center offers comprehensive care and treatment for all cardiac patients. Our patient rehabilitation services include working with a nutritionist to understand heart-healthy food and drink choices. Learn more about CFCVI's other services online or contact our Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-800-447-8206 for a physician referral.

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Why Wear a Heart Rate Monitor During Exercise?

Cardiac Health | Monday, July 8th, 2013 | No Comments

Heart rate monitors are a useful tool for getting the most out of your workout.

If you have ever used a treadmill or elliptical exercise machine, you may have noticed chrome plates on the handles. Those silver additions to the facade of your equipment are heart rate senors which detect through your palms how many beats your heart is pulsing per minute.

Those sensors are there for a good reason – heart rate matters when it comes to exercise. Heart rate monitors are relegated to the handles of treadmills. Portable units are available, many of which resemble watches or bracelets. A heart monitor can help improve your fitness by:

Helping you reach your target heart rate:
You target heart rate will vary depending on your age. For example, according to the American Heart Association, a 35-year-old has target heart rate of 93-157 beats per minutes. The target represents 50 to 85 percent of the average maximum rate of 185 beats per minute. By reaching your target, you are achieving an effective cardiovascular workout. Wearing a heart rate monitor allows you to work harder when your rate drops below the target. The monitor frees you to concentrate on your workout.

Keeping you in check:
On the opposite side of the heart rate spectrum, wearing a heart monitor will also remind you to slow down if your heart rate goes beyond the target and average maximum heart rate. 

Exercise strengths your heart and the Central Florida Cardiac & Vascular Institute is your ally in caring four your vascular health. If you have heart health questions or need a physician referral, call our Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-447-8206.

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Heart-healthy Twists on Fourth of July Favorites

How to be Healthy | Monday, July 1st, 2013 | No Comments

You can have fun while protecting your heart on the biggest barbeque day of the year.

Many classic picnic and grilled foods are on the "naughty" list. Full of cholesterol, salt and sugar, the delicious fare of the Fourth is hard to resist. What's a heart conscious eater to do?

Instead of potato salad or chips and dip… pig out on disease-fighting fruit and veggies to satisfy your appetite  Onions, mushrooms, zucchini and pineapple grill up beautifully while providing nutrients, fiber and the hydration you need on a hot day. Make your own potato salad using reduced fat mayo.

Instead of potato chips and sour cream dip… choose baked sweet potato or pita chips, preferably with light salt. Mix Greek yogurt with mint or spices to provide flavor without the trans fats. Guacamole and hummus are always a big hit and pack a nutrient punch.

Instead of store-bought apple pie… make your own at home without lard in the crust and with a big emphasis on the fruit filling. Is strawberry shortcake your thing? Whip up your own low-fat cream and keep the sugar content low. Strawberries are sweet enough on their own.

Instead of beef products… give turkey or veggie dogs and burgers a chance. They grill up well and lack the high quantity of fat that coats your arteries from beef. If you can't give up the red meat, choose low fat options by bringing your own to throw on the grill.

Instead of sweet tea or lemonade…  enjoy pure fruit juice or add a lemon to unsweetened tea. Freeze juice in cubes and add it to tea or seltzer. Blend up smoothies for everyone. Liquid calories and harmful ingredients can wreak havoc on your arteries. Instead of beer, try ginger ale or root beer.

Share your heart healthy attitude by bringing your favorite heart-conscious dishes to your summer parties. The Central Florida Cardiac and Vascular Institute can answer your questions about healthy diet and nutrition. Call our free, 24/7 Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-800-447-8206.

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What is Radial STEMI?

Cancer Care | Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 | No Comments

When a clot blocks blood flow to the heart, heart attack ensues. What happens next?

Cardiologists increasingly use a surgical technique referred to as radial STEMI to treat heart attack patients in the emergency room or critical care center.

What is STEMI?
STEMI is a type of heart attack. The term is a nickname for ST segment elevation myocardial infarction. These are big words for a heart attack brought on by a full blockage of the artery, as opposed to an NSTEMI which involves only a partial block. Symptoms are no different from other types of heart attack, so it’s hard to distinguish if you experience or witness it.

How is a STEMI identified?
When a heart attack patient arrives at the emergency facility, staff administer blood tests and an electrocardiogram to determine whether or not the attack qualifies as STEMI. STEMI patients do not undergo open heart surgery. Instead, blocked arteries can be opened by entering the body through the skin. The term radial refers to the radial artery, accessible through the wrist, which is a great alternative to the femoral blood vessel accessed at the groin. By means of these arterial passageways, a stent may be placed inside the damaged artery to enlarge it. A balloon angioplasty procedure is also commonly used.

Why is radial STEMI ideal?
More and more hospitals and cardiologists are choosing the radial STEMI procedure over its alternatives. Radial STEMI consistently provides patients with the following benefits:

  • Less time between the patient’s arrival at the ER and the start of the operation
  • Less bleeding
  • Lower chance of procedural complications
  • Less intrusion
  • Quicker recovery time
  • The ability to walk sooner
  • Less time spent in the hospital

If you detect any possible symptoms of a heart attack, play it safe and call 911 immediately. The Central Florida Cardiac and Vascular Institute offers premier cardiovascular care when minutes count. Learn more about our Cardiovascular Surgery Department online or by calling our Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-800-447-8206.

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Heart Health Tips for Hurricane Season

Cardiac Health | Monday, June 17th, 2013 | No Comments

Hurricane season starts June 1. Be ready!

A hurricane can rattle even the calmest character, but when heart health concerns are at stake, care and safety are even more essential. If you have heart health concerns, read on to learn what to do in case of a weather emergency.

How can I prepare myself if I'm remaining in my home?

  • Enlist a friend or family member to stay with you.
  • Charge your mobile phone to ensure battery longevity in case the electricity goes out.
  • Know how to reach the nearest ER, including alternate routes in case traffic slows you down.
  • Prepare a thorough first aid kit in case emergency vehicles cannot reach you.

What should I pack in my hurricane kit?
It's essential to have a hurricane kit prepared in advance in case you need to hunker down in your home, relocate to a shelter or hit the road out of town. For those who have their heart health in mind, the following may be useful.

  • Include first aid kit basics.
  • If advised by your physician, pack a defibrillator.
  • Stock up on medication that treats blood pressure, other heart conditions or, if applicable, diabetes needs.
  • Keep a list of prescriptions and all medications you are currently taking.
  • Xerox copies of health insurance cards and information about any special needs should you receive emergency assistance by critical care staff.
  • Buy heart-healthy eating options: canned beans, peanut butter, dried fruit and fruit preserved in water (not syrup), oatmeal and nuts.

If you already have a complete hurricane kit, check if any items need to be replaced. Dented cans, water bottles with broken seals and expired medications are a few items to renew.

Remember to remain calm during a hurricane. Your self assurance and patience will keep blood pressure-raising stress at bay and see you through any disaster. For questions or concerns pertaining to hurricane preparedness, call our free Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-800-447-8206.

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Men & Heart Disease: 5 Facts

How to be Healthy | Monday, June 10th, 2013 | No Comments

Heart disease is currently responsible for a quarter of all male deaths in the US.

No matter your race or even your age, heart disease is a serious risk for all men. This June, let's celebrate Men's Health Month by fighting back against heart disease. Read the following facts so you can make changes to your lifestyle and protect yourself.

Fact #1: No symptoms does not mean no worries. As much as 50% of men who die of heart disease never showed signs of it. This is why screenings, such as blood pressure and cholesterol, are vital.

Fact #2: Smoking kills. The use of tobacco raises more than lung cancer risk. Smoking causes the build-up of plaque in arteries, which raises blood pressure and weakens the body's ability to bring oxygen to the heart.

Fact #3: Weight matters. Excess pounds raise blood pressure because the weight pushes down on arteries. Even a healthy weight paired with a sedentary lifestyle poses dangers. The heart requires fitness activities like any other muscles in your body.

Fact #4: Alcohol is a big contributor. Not only can excess alcohol consumption lead to weight gain, but it also raises blood pressure. Binge drinking has been associated with heart attack and stroke.

Fact #5: You can reverse the risk factors. When you toss the cigarettes, choose to exercise regularly or trade the sour cream in favor if plain yogurt, you are taking the reins on your heart's health. You can choose longevity and a pain-free life if you start today.

When you invest time and effort in your own health, you're securing your future, as well as that of the ones you love. The Central Florida Cardiac & Vascular Institute can help you make small changes to reap big rewards. To learn more about heart disease or to request a physician referral, call our Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-800-447-8206.

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3 Easy Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure

How to be Healthy | Thursday, June 6th, 2013 | No Comments

A few small changes go a long way to improving your health.

Blood pressure, or the impact of blood against the walls of the arteries, affects how we feel and our risk for developing unhealthy conditions and diseases. For National High Blood Pressure Education Month, make three easy lifestyle changes to help our hearts and our bodies.

1. Explore healthy eating. Your local grocery store offers everything you need to launch a blood pressure-friendly lifestyle, and restaurants often offer healthy alternatives.

  • Reduce your sodium intake. 2,300 milligrams is the maximum recommended daily amount.
  • Whole grains, fruits and veggies add fiber while fighting disease.
  • Beware liquid calories, especially alcohol.
  • Weight loss starts in the kitchen. Less body mass means less pressure on your arteries.

2. Exercise regularly. A little sweat achieves results fast. Exercise gets the heart pumping and increased blood flow so arteries stay flexible and healthy.

  • A half hour workout daily, five days per week, can drop your blood pressure significantly.
  • A consistent routine will bring results within a few weeks.
  • It's better to work out for a half hour daily than to pack 2.5 hours into your weekend.
  • Exercise also alleviates tension and anxiety which can affect blood pressure levels.

3. Less stress is best. When the brain senses a challenge, it sends signals to the body to increase your heart rate, breathing and senses so that you can cope. When this happens repeatedly, less helpful consequences follow, such as headaches, sleeplessness and high blood pressure.

  • Stress reduction activities such as yoga, meditation or simple breathing exercises are powerful combatants.
  • Awareness of what may provoke your anxiety can help you avoid those triggers.
  • Spending time with dear friends promotes feelings of comfort and reassurance no matter what challenges you face.

Check your blood pressure routinely so that you can stay in control of your health. At the Central Florida Cardiac & Vascular Institute, our physicians can help you get on the right track. Request a physician referral or schedule an appointment today by calling our free Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-800-447-8206.

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Introducing Healing Hearts on Wheels

Main | Monday, May 27th, 2013 | No Comments

Stay on top of your heart health by joining our new educational series "Healing Hearts on Wheels."

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. today. Osceola Regional Medical Center and the Central Florida Cardiac & Vascular Institute are committed to improving the health of our community and surrounding towns. Our newest effort, Healing Hearts on Wheels, is an education program that we hope will safeguard our community members from cardiovascular disease. The program will consist of a series of free talks by cardiologists and physicians from several of our facilities.

Who can attend these lectures?
Everyone! Lectures are open to the public and provided in both English and Spanish. Anyone with interest in heart health, as well as those who have heart disease, will benefit from the information.

How much does attendance cost?
All lectures are free.

How long are the lectures?
Each lecture lasts one hour.

What are the lectures about?
The main goal of this lecture series is to heighten awareness of cardiovascular disease, its signs and symptoms and how it can be prevented and treated.

Topics will include:

  • Eating Right for Your Heart
  • Blood Pressure Awareness
  • The Benefits and Types of Screenings
  • Weight Loss and Your Heart
  • Smoking and Lifestyle Risk Factors for Heart Disease
  • Early Signs of a Heart Attack

The Healing Hearts on Wheels program kicks off this June. Check our calendar regularly for new listings and updates on when and where classes will be held, the specific topic of each session and who will be presenting the lecture.

If you have questions or would like to find a physician, call our Consult-A-Nurse® service, free and available 24 hours a day, by dialing 1-800-447-8206.

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Understanding Ejection Fraction

Main | Monday, May 20th, 2013 | No Comments

Learn about the health of your heart with this useful measurement tool.

A healthy heart pumps about half of its blood volume each time it beats and beats between 60 and 80 times during a minute. Ejection Fraction (EF) measures how much volume your heart pumps in order to tell you and your physician how well your heart is beating. The test can be applied to either the left or right ventricle.

When you get an EF reading of 55-70%, your heart is pumping at a normal rate and a normal amount. Lower than that is a cause for concern.

Who receives an EF test?
An EF measurement is obtained during routine heart screenings, including during some annual physical exams. EF is almost always measured when a physician is concerned about his patient's chance of heart failure. The term heart failure means that the heart is compensating for its problems, rather than operating in a truly healthy state. Knowing how much blood the heart can pump tells the doctor a lot about its fitness.

How is EF determined?
Various tests can be used to obtain an EF score. The devices used in these tests allow the cardiologist to "view" the heart in action. Echocardiography is the most popular tool among the following:

  • Echocardiography (ultrasound)
  • Catheterization
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computerized tomography (CT)

However, EF tests are not fool-proof. At times, EF results may give a healthy score, showing that over half of the volume is pumped, when in reality, the heart is not pumping as much blood as it should be. For example, if the walls of the heart have thickened, less blood fills it, and the actual volume that the heart pumps diminishes.

EF testing is essential for anyone who has concerns regarding the health of their heart. Schedule an appointment at the Central Florida Cardiac & Vascular Institute today! Call our free Consult-A-Nurse® hotline at 1-800-447-8206 with questions about our diagnostics services or for a physician referral.

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