Four Stages of PAD and What They Mean

Nurse completing PAD ABI testing on patient

Peripheral artery disease affects an ever-growing number of patients in the United States and around the world. However, PAD remains a relatively less known concern among patients, and our medical system still needs to catch up with screening for this disease. To fully understand PAD, it’s best to compare it to coronary artery disease; imagine the plaque build-up in the arteries of the limbs – the legs and the arms. As with any artery, plaque can build up on the walls of the peripheral arteries and occlude the vessel, slowing down blood flow. To this end, PAD is often an indicator of future coronary artery disease.

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Wegovy Approved for Heart Disease

Woman taking cap off of injection with elbows on wooden table

What This Means for Your Health

On March 8, 2024, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Wegovy for use in patients with cardiovascular disease.1 Wegovy is an injectable medication that has recently gained attention for aiding weight loss and has also been proven to help with obesity. The FDA’s approval of Wegovy for use by patients with heart disease was confirmation that data shows a significant reduction in the risk for cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.

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How Sleep Can Affect Your Heart Health

Woman sleeping on side

According to the CDC, the average adult needs approximately 7 hours of sleep to stay healthy. As many of us know from personal experience, that doesn’t always happen, and for a significant number of Americans, sleep deprivation is the norm. While we can recover from poor sleep over a day or two or even a week, long-term sleep deprivation can lead to severe problems. We know that increases in blood pressure, a higher risk of type II diabetes, and increased rates of obesity have all been tied, in part, to lack of sleep. Ultimately, these conditions can lead to cardiovascular disease like a heart attack and even stroke.

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Is Heart Failure a Disease?

Older man sitting up in bed gripping chest with hand

According to the CDC, almost 6 MILLION people in the United States suffer from heart failure (also referred to as congestive heart failure). With 1 in 9 deaths associated with heart failure-related conditions, you would think that it is one of the most concerning diseases in the United States. However, heart failure in and of itself is not a disease but rather the later manifestation of one or more other diseases.

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Starting an Exercise Program After a Heart Attack

Man stretching before working out outside Heart attacks are life-changing, not only physically but mentally as well. When someone has a heart attack, they feel more vulnerable in every way, physically and psychologically. They may believe their heart is weak, and they tend to withdraw from activity to keep their heart “protected.”

However, the opposite is true. To be sure, a heart attack does create structural problems that can weaken it, but we must remember what causes heart attacks in the first place. Heart attacks are primarily caused by ischemic heart disease, which involves a buildup of plaque in the arteries. A blood clot may form within the artery when the plaque breaks open. If the blood clot becomes large enough and blood flow is reduced significantly enough, the heart is deprived of oxygen, and the musculature in the deprived area can die.

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Supplements and Your Heart

Assortment of supplements in pile Many Americans suffer from deficiencies in common vitamins and minerals. For example, as we spend more time indoors, vitamin D deficiency has reached significant proportions. About 50% of Americans have a vitamin D insufficiency, and about 35% have a vitamin D deficiency. And as our diets have worsened, many find themselves lacking in other essential nutrients. Many studies have been designed to prove the link between vitamin supplementation and heart health. While some studies have shown a correlation, others do not, with some even showing an adverse effect of certain supplements on heart health. So, how do we cut through the marketing and decide which supplements are appropriate?

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High Blood Pressure and Cognitive Health

Man getting blood pressure taken by doctor with arm on table

As if we needed more warnings about high blood pressure, Brazilian research¹ has shown that hypertension, even for short periods in middle-aged and older adults, can increase the rate of cognitive decline. Cognitive decline is a normal part of aging, but issues such as high blood pressure can speed up the process. For some, however, this can turn into more severe conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Cognitive function includes memory, concentration, attention span, thinking, and fluency.

Of particular concern is that estimates now show upwards of half of all adults in the United States have high blood pressure.

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Does a Heart Attack Mean the End of Life as I Know It?

Man grabbing chest with one hand while hunched over

There is very little that puts more trepidation into the minds of our patients than the prospect of a heart attack. We even use the term to describe some of the most dramatic goings-on in our lives. To be sure, with heart disease being the leading killer of adults in the United States, we should be very concerned about our cardiovascular health, especially if we have any of the risk factors of heart disease.

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Can Cold Weather Cause More Heart Attacks?

woman with winter coat and scarf in the wintertime outside

The weather is not typically at the top of the list when we think of the causes of heart attacks. To be sure, lack of exercise and poor dietary choices are the primary causes behind this deadly condition. However, patients must understand what they’re feeling during cold weather and whether it is a warning sign of cardiovascular disease or an impending heart attack.

Here in Nevada, temperatures can get pretty cold, and regardless of what we wear, our bodies try to compensate for even small temperature changes. The body does so in the cold by constricting blood vessels to retain more heat in the core. This is why your skin turns white and blue if exposed to very cold conditions. Remember that your vascular system requires body heat to work correctly, so by reducing blood flow to less important peripheral structures, our body can keep us alive longer, for example, in an emergency. Of course, when a blood vessel constricts, less blood circulates. This is rarely a concern in an adult with a healthy cardiovascular system, as even reduced blood flow still provides enough oxygen throughout the body.

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What to Expect: PET/CT Stress Testing

man on treadmill during stress test with cardiologist controlling panel

A PET/CT stress test is an advanced diagnostic option for finding the cause of new or worsening chest pain or shortness of breath, determining the risk of heart disease, evaluating how cardiovascular treatment is progressing, and following a patient’s recovery after a heart attack or other major coronary event. Most of our PET scanning and PET stress tests performed by our physicians are done in our Summerlin office.

A PET/CT stress test gives your heart specialist images of blood flow to the heart muscle. To generate these images of your heart, you will receive infusions of a radioactive tracer through an IV. The radioactive tracer has no significant side effects and is not a contrast dye. It does not contain iodine and will not harm your kidneys. PET/CT stress testing is safe and can help your cardiologist diagnose heart disease accurately, allowing for a more comprehensive treatment plan.

We also measure vitals like heart rhythm, heart rate, and blood pressure during this time.

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