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As we age, many bodily and sexual functions begin to decline. None, however, strike more terror in a man than erectile dysfunction. While this is a prevalent condition, it is one that men are often embarrassed by, and very often because of that, do not seek appropriate treatment. To address the embarrassment and concerns of many men, several online mail-order options have been created, promising patients a discrete consultation and getting their ED medications without going to the pharmacy.
However, there is a significant concern that some of these men’s health services do not address — the heart.
The past several decades have seen an incredible shift in the food landscape in the United States. The rise of cheap and highly processed food has partly fueled obesity and metabolic disease, a crisis that we, as cardiologists, constantly contend with. Food companies have gone to great pains to label products as heart-healthy with guidance from the FDA that set specific rules about what can and can’t be labeled as healthy (first in 1994, and to be updated soon). Since 1995, the American Heart Association has offered similar guidance through its Heart-Check Certification program. But, are these labels informative, should they be followed, and is it enough?
Supplementation has become an ever-greater part of the collective psyche in the US. As dietary and lifestyle habits have changed, and more of us suffer from metabolic diseases due to excess weight, our understanding of bodily functions and vitamin and mineral interactions has improved. Are we on the right track, or have we taken it too far? Today, you can’t go to a big box store without seeing rows of supplements, from those we know well to obscure roots and herbs that we have difficulty pronouncing. With all the claims swirling around each of these supplements, do they have a place in maintaining cardiovascular health, or do they represent a Band-Aid for those looking for an easy way out? Continue reading →
If you have been researching treatment options since being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, you have likely come across an exceptionally effective treatment option known as cardiac catheter ablation. Catheter ablation uses heat (RF waves) or cold (cryotherapy) to ablate or destroy malfunctioning heart tissue causing arrhythmia. In properly selected patients, cardiac catheter ablation can be highly successful and safe and does not preclude further interventions to the heart should they be necessary for the future.
A pacemaker is an amazing medical device, and technology has advanced dramatically over the past few decades. What were bulky and often short-lasting devices are now more streamlined than ever, with longer battery lives than ever before. Further, we now have a new standard in leadless pacemakers implanted directly into the heart and do not require wires to fulfill their pacing duties.
However, as with any self-powered battery-operated device, they have a life span – of usually about 8 to 10 years. This lifespan depends mainly on how often the pacemaker needs to fire, general care of the device, and manufacturing tolerances that may increase or shorten the life of the device.
Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is a truly concerning condition. To understand it, we must learn more about the circulatory system. Blood is pumped through the heart and around the body. This is why you can feel your pulse, even in your extremities. To get the blood where it needs to go as fast as possible, we have incredibly strong-walled blood vessels known as arteries. These arteries transport blood to the extremities, where smaller blood vessels take them to every cell in our bodies. Our blood delivers oxygen to each of our cells, allowing them to work efficiently and keeping us healthy. However, once the blood is depleted from the arteries, it has to return to the heart, and this is a job taken on by the veins – low-pressure blood vessels that bring the blood back to the heart, where it is pumped to the lungs and re-oxygenated. This process is repeated hundreds of thousands of times each day for the rest of your life.
Atrial Fibrillation, or Afib, is one of the most common cardiac arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats in the US and worldwide. And it has been increasing in prevalence. It is estimated that upwards of 5 million people in the United States suffer from Afib. Still, many have gone undiagnosed or are simply not receiving the care they need to manage the condition. It’s important to note that while Afib itself is not inherently dangerous, except in rare cases, it can lead to longer-term conditions, including increased risk of stroke, increased risk of heart attack, and longer-term risk of congestive heart failure. As such, Afib should be treated at its earliest signs. Fortunately, most patients who experience Afib have options, and modern-day Afib therapies are not only safe but very effective.
We don’t often associate ED or Erectile Dysfunction with cardiovascular disease and heart problems. However, while there are several potential causes of ED, the one that we as cardiologists are most concerned with is, you guessed it, cardiovascular disease. While they may seem unrelated, there is a common thread. For a man to achieve an erection, blood must flow into the penis efficiently. There are many reasons why this may not happen; however, if the blood flow issue results from partially blocked blood vessels, it may be indicative of a more significant cardiovascular problem. In fact, it is estimated that over 50% of men suffering from ED may have atherosclerosis to blame, at least in part.
Cardiotoxicity is a term used to describe damage to the heart caused by specific cancer treatments. It is essential to discuss cardiotoxicity with your cardiologist if you have cancer treatment because some radiation and chemotherapy have adverse effects on the heart. By coordinating your care with your oncologist and your cardiologist, you can minimize the risk of heart problems due to your cancer treatment.
You may be wondering how common cardiotoxicity is. After all, you may have known patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation but never having any heart problems. The fact is that cardiotoxicity is relatively rare. However, the effects of cardiotoxicity may not be apparent during or immediately after your cancer treatment. Some patients develop symptomatic cardiotoxicity years after their treatment. In some cases, cardiotoxicity reduces the ability of your heart to pump blood around your body; however, in severe cases, it can lead to heart failure.
A heart attack is one of the most frightening moments in a person’s life. It can remind us of our mortality and often paralyzes us into believing that we should reduce our activity to preserve the heart muscle. But let’s explore a heart attack and why not exercising may cause even more significant problems.
A heart attack occurs when oxygen-rich blood to the heart is limited by the partial or complete occlusion of the supplying artery. This happens due to plaque buildup within that artery, known as atherosclerosis. Like any other muscle in the body, when the blood flow is interrupted, the tissue supplied by that blood vessel begins to die. The longer the heart remains without its blood supply, the greater the damage. Fortunately, due to better public awareness of heart attacks and faster interventions, the number of people surviving a heart attack has increased over the years.