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Heart Center

Heart Conditions in Adults - FAQ

Q: How is angina (chest pain) different from a heart attack?

Q: What are the different types of arrhythmias?

Q: Where can I find comprehensive information about pacemakers?

Q: What causes atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)?

Q: Since there is no cure for congestive heart failure, how is the condition treated?

Q: What are the major risk factors for heart attack?

Q: I have a heart murmur; does this mean I have heart valve disease?

Q: How does blood pressure increase?

Q: Where can I find comprehensive information about stroke?

Q: What is "good" and "bad" cholesterol?

Q: My physician ordered a cardiac catheterization. What can I expect from this procedure?

Q: What is a Holter monitor and how does it work?

Q: Does smoking really cause heart disease?

Q: What is the purpose behind cardiac rehabilitation?

Q: Where can I find more information on the Internet related to cardiovascular disease?


Q: How is angina (chest pain) different from a heart attack?


A: Angina may have similar symptoms as a heart attack, such as: a crushing, squeezing pain in the chest; a feeling of pressure in the chest; or pain radiating in the arms, shoulders, jaw, neck, and/or back. However, unlike the chest pain associated with a heart attack, the pain from angina usually goes away within a few minutes with rest or with the use of a cardiac prescription medication (i.e., nitroglycerin). <For more information on angina>

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Q: What are the different types of arrhythmias?

A: An arrhythmia (also referred to as dysrhythmia) is an abnormal rhythm of the heart, which can cause the heart to pump less effectively. An atrial arrhythmia is an arrhythmia caused by a dysfunction of the sinus node or the development of another atrial pacemaker within the heart tissue that takes over the function of the sinus node. A ventricular arrhythmia is an arrhythmia caused by a dysfunction of the sinus node, an interruption in the conduction pathways, or the development of another pacemaker within the heart tissue that takes over the function of the sinus node. <For more information on arrhythmias>

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Q: Where can I find comprehensive information about pacemakers?


A: Living with a pacemaker requires special instructions and care. <For more information on pacemakers>

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Q: What causes atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)?


A: It is unknown exactly how atherosclerosis begins or what causes it. Some scientists think that certain risk factors may be associated with atherosclerosis, including: elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, smoking, type 1 diabetes, obesity, and physical inactivity. <For more information on atherosclerosis>

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Q: Since there is no cure for congestive heart failure, how is the condition treated?


A: The cause of the congestive heart failure will dictate the treatment protocol established. If the heart failure is caused by a valve disorder, then surgery is usually performed. If a disease, such as anemia, causes the heart failure then the disease is treated. And, although there is no cure for heart failure due to a damaged heart muscle, many forms of treatment have proven to be successful. <For more information on congestive heart failure>

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Q: What are the major risk factors for heart attack?


A: There are two types of risk factors for heart attack, including inherited (genetic) and acquired. Learn the risk factors you can and cannot control to better take charge of your cardiovascular health. <For more information on heart attack>

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Q: I have a heart murmur; does this mean I have heart valve disease?


A: Heart valve disease may be suspected if the heart sounds heard through a stethoscope are abnormal. This is usually the first step in diagnosing a heart valve disease. A characteristic heart murmur (abnormal sounds in the heart due to turbulent blood flow) can often indicate valve regurgitation. To further define the type of valve disease and extent of the valve damage, physicians may use several different types of diagnostic procedures. <For more information on heart valve disease> <For more information on heart murmurs>

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Q: How does blood pressure increase?


A: Obesity or being overweight, excessive sodium intake, and a lack of exercise and physical activity all cause blood pressure to increase. <For more information on high blood pressure (hypertension)>

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Q: Where can I find comprehensive information about stroke?


A: Stroke is a serious condition that requires clinical care by a physician or other healthcare professionals. <For more information on stroke>

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Q: What is "good" and "bad" cholesterol?

A: Cholesterol and other fats are transported in your blood stream in the form of spherical particles called lipoproteins. The two most commonly known lipoproteins are low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is commonly called the "bad" cholesterol, and is a type of fat in the blood that contains the most cholesterol. It can contribute to the formation of plaque buildup in the arteries, known as atherosclerosis. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is known as the "good" cholesterol, and is a type of fat in the blood that helps to remove cholesterol from the blood, preventing the fatty buildup and formation of plaque. <For more information on cholesterol in the blood>

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Q: My physician ordered a cardiac catheterization. What can I expect from this procedure?

A: In cardiac catheterization (often abbreviated as "cath"), a very small catheter (hollow tube) is advanced from a blood vessel in the groin through the aorta into the heart. Once the catheter is in place, several diagnostic techniques may be used to detect the cause of several different cardiac symptoms, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, etc. <For more information on cardiac catheterization>

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Q: What is a Holter monitor and how does it work?

A: A Holter monitor is an EKG recording done over a period of 24 or more hours. Three electrodes are attached to the patient's chest and connected to a small portable EKG recorder by lead wires. The patient goes about his/her usual daily activities (except for activities such as taking a shower, swimming, or any activity causing an excessive amount of sweating which would cause the electrodes to become loose or fall off) during this procedure. <For more information on Holter monitoring equipment>

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Q: Does smoking really cause heart disease?

A: Yes, in many cases. Smokers not only have increased risk of lung disease, including lung cancer and emphysema, but also have increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and oral cancer. <For more information on smoking and cardiovascular disease>

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Q: What is the purpose behind cardiac rehabilitation?

A: The goal of cardiac rehabilitation is to help patients reverse their symptoms and maximize cardiac function. <For more information on cardiac rehabilitation>

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Q: Where can I find more information on the Internet related to cardiovascular disease?

A: Information on the Internet should never substitute the medical advice you receive from your physician. We have provided here links to other World Wide Web sites with information about cardiovascular diseases. We hope you find these sites helpful, but please remember we do not control or endorse the information presented on these Web sites, nor do these sites endorse the information contained here. <For additional Online Resources>

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