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Cardiac Health – Resources and Information

Access educational resources and information to help you get and stay healthy, no matter your age or stage of life.

Cardiac Risks and Surgery

It is common for patients with heart disease to undergo surgery. In order to decrease the risk of having a worsening of your heart condition during surgery, your provider may recommend an evaluation by a cardiologist prior to your surgery.

Surgical risks that are evaluated include: the extent of the current heart disease and how complex or significant the surgical procedure will be. For example, a person who is having a cataract removal has much less risk than someone who is undergoing a major abdominal or orthopaedic procedure. Similarly, a patient who has advanced heart problems has a greater risk than a person who has not had a previous heart issue.

Your provider may ask you to come in for a physical, do an EKG or refer you to a cardiologist or primary care provider to determine if you have a low, intermediate or high cardiac risk prior to surgery. Any person older than 70, who has had a previous heart attack, angina (chest pain), fluid in the lungs or critical heart valve problems, should be seen prior to any operation.

It is important to remember, that your team of healthcare providers follow well established guidelines and criteria to ensure your surgery will be successful and safe.

Written by Stanley Shapiro, MD, FACC, FASNC. Dr. Shapiro is the Medical Director and a Cardiologist at Rutland Heart Center, 802.747.3600.

Eat Right to Stay Young at Heart

Proper nutrition plays a huge role in preventing heart disease. A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons in the fight against heart disease. Use these guidelines to make smart food choices that benefit your heart and your overall health.

  • Eat plenty of lean protein (fish, poultry, tofu) which can help reduce inflammation that can lead to heart disease.
  • Opt for whole grains. Increasing your fiber intake by eating whole grains can help decrease cholesterol levels.
  • Incorporate plenty of fruits and vegetables into your diet, which are also high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals, and may help prevent heart disease. (And remember: the deeper the color, the more nutrients it contains).
  • Stay away from “bad fats” – i.e. trans fats. Instead, reach for foods containing “good fats”, such as olive oil and avocados.
  • Choose your cooking methods wisely. Steam, bake, or grill your food, and choose foods from the list below.

Top 25 Heart Healthy Foods

1.         Salmon

2.         Flaxseed

3.         Oatmeal

4.         Black or Kidney Beans

5.         Almonds

6.         Walnuts

7.         Red wine

8.         Tuna

9.         Tofu

10.       Brown rice

11.       Soy milk

12.       Blueberries

13.       Carrots

14.       Spinach

15.       Broccoli

16.       Sweet potato

17.       Red bell peppers

18.       Asparagus

19.       Oranges

20.       Tomatoes

21.       Acorn squash

22.       Cantaloupe

23.       Papaya

24.       Dark chocolate

25.       Tea 

Written by Kelsey Gero, Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist at RAVNAH

Heart Disease in Women: Understand the Symptoms & Risk Factors

All women face the threat of heart disease. But becoming aware of symptoms and risks unique to women, as well as eating a heart healthy diet and exercising can help protect you.

Although heart disease is often thought of as a problem for men, more women than men die of heart disease each year. One challenge is that the heart disease symptoms in women can be different from symptoms in men.  Despite increases in awareness over the past decade, only 54% of women recognize that heart disease is their number one killer. Fortunately, women can take steps to understand their unique symptoms of heart disease and begin to reduce their risk.

Heart Attack Symptoms for Women:

Most common heart attack symptoms in women is some type of pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest, but it is not always severe or even the most prominent symptom, particularly in women. Women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain such as:

  • Neck, shoulder, upper back, or abdominal discomfort
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness or Dizziness
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Feeling scared or nervous
  • An ache in the chest
  • Feeling “ heavy” or “tight” in the chest

These symptoms are more subtle than the obvious crushing chest pain often associated with heart attacks. This may be because women tend to have blockages not only in their main arteries but also in the smaller arteries that supply blood to the heart – a condition called small vessel heart disease or micro vascular disease.

Heart Disease Risk Factors for Women:

  • Metabolic: fat around the abdomen, High blood pressure, high blood sugar and high triglycerides – has a greater impact on women than on men.
  • Mental stress and depression affect women’s hearts more than men.
  • Smoking is a greater risk factor for heart disease in women than in men.
  • Lower levels of estrogen after menopause pose a significant risk factor for developing heart disease.
  • High blood pressure, high cholesterol
  • Physical inactivity
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Excessive alcohol intake

Is Heart Disease Something Only Older Women should Worry About?

No. Women under age 65 who have a family history of cardiovascular disease should pay particularly close attention to the heart disease risk factors. Women of all ages should take heart disease seriously.

What Can Women do to reduce their Risk of Heart Disease?

There are several lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of heart disease:

  • Exercise 30-60 minutes a day, most days.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Quit or do not start smoking.
  • Make healthy food choices
  • Take prescribed medication.
  • Manage high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes
  • Lower your stress level

Don’t wait to get help!  Seek medical attention!

Written by Laura Cohen, MSN, ANP-BC, ACNP-BC. Laura is a Nurse Practitioner at Rutland Heart Center, 802.747.3600.

What is Cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy is a common cardiac diagnosis. It literally means sick heart muscle. There are two types of cardiomyopathy. The first, and most common, is characterized by an enlarged, weak heart with poor output (not able to pump as well as a normal heart). Less commonly, the heart muscle functions poorly because it’s small, thick and stiff; this is called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The symptoms related to both types of cardiomyopathy can be similar; shortness of breath, decreasing exercise capacity, weakness, palpitations, trouble sleeping at night when lying flat, rapid heartbeats and swollen ankles.

Common Causes

Many different diseases can cause cardiomyopathy. Blocked arteries or a heart attack is one of the most common causes of the heart not functioning normally. Blocked or leaky heart valves can result in strain on the heart and eventual failure. Rapid heartbeats, especially over long periods of time, can result in weakened heart muscle. Toxic substances such as environmental toxins or excessive alcohol, or even certain chemotherapies for cancer can weaken the heart muscle. When patients come in with symptoms, an echocardiogram, or ultrasound of the heart, is usually the first step. Based upon the findings, evaluations of the arteries of the heart may be needed. Possible treatments include stents and bypass. For other causes of cardiomyopathy, a variety of medications to treat the underlying illness are often necessary. If you have swollen ankles or edema, diuretics or medications that make you pass excessive water are helpful. There are also medications that lower blood pressure, control the heartbeat and strengthen the heart. In severe cases, certain types of pacemakers can strengthen the heart and improve the patient’s feeling of well-being.  

Great strides have been made in the past ten years in treating cardiomyopathy. Survival has improved from 50 percent at five years after diagnosis to 75 percent at ten years after diagnosis with recent advances. The most important aspect of this disease is early diagnosis. Early diagnosis allows for early interventions, treatment and management of the disease. If you experience increasing shortness of breath or difficulty in doing normal activities, evaluation with your primary care physician can be key to making an early diagnosis. If there are causes for concern, referral to a cardiac specialist can be made. 

Written by Bartholomew J. Bonazinga, MD, FACC. Dr. Bonazinga is a Cardiologist at Rutland Heart Center, 802.747.3600.

Heart Health Videos by Our Rutland Heart Center Providers and Clinical Staff

Watch videos presented by our very own Rutland Heart Center providers on various cardiac issues and tests, and what is being done to keep Congestive Heart Failure patients healthy and out of the hospital. 

Atrial Fibrillation (Irregular Heartbeats)

Learn more about irregular heartbeats including:

  • Types of irregular heartbeats
  • The signs and symptoms
  • How irregular heartbeats are treated

Cardiac Rehabilitation at Rutland Regional Medical Center

The Rutland Heart Center's outpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation program provides support, education and medically supervised exercise to patients recovering from: Heart Attack Coronary Bypass Surgery Heart Valve Replacement Stable Angina Heart Transplant

Learn more about Rutland Regional's Cardiac Rehabilitation program in the above video.

What to Expect During a Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram

Are you scheduled to have a Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram? In the above video, staff of the Rutland Heart Center at Rutland Regional Medical Center talk about what you can expect and demonstrate the test.

EKG: An Easy and Painless Heart Test

An EKG (electrocardiogram) is an electrical photograph of the heart. By looking at the electrical impulses on an EKG, the doctor can determine whether there are any problems with previous injury, whether the heart is enlarged or whether there is any abnormality with the way the heart's conduction system is working.

24-Hour Holter Monitors

Are you scheduled to have a Holter Monitor Test? In the above video, staff of the Rutland Heart Center at Rutland Regional Medical Center talk about what you can expect and demonstrate the procedure.

Nuclear Stress Test

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. Dr. James Fitts of the Rutland Heart Center at Rutland Regional Medical Center, talks about Nuclear Stress Test, a test that measures stress on the heart and checks for any damage.

Nuclear imaging allows doctors to see what is going on in the heart and measures blood flow to the heart both at rest and during stress on the heart such as exercise.

Learn more about what happens during a nuclear stress test in the above video.

Pacemaker Device Check

A pacemaker is a device that sends electrical impulses to the heart to keep the heart beating at a normal rate. Pacemakers are used to treat arrhythmias (A-RITH-me-ahs). When someone has an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slow, or at an irregular rhythm.

Patients who have pacemakers need to have their device checked routinely to make sure it is working properly.

Learn more about what happens during a pacemaker device check in the above video.

Reducing Hospital Admissions for Congestive Heart Failure Patients

A collaborative of health care providers in Rutland, Vermont is working to help patients with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) stay out of the hospital. Patients treated for CHF are often readmitted to hospitals within 30 days of discharge. With good care coordination and appropriate follow-up care readmission rates have been reduced.

Stress Test for Heart Disease

Are you scheduled to have a Stress Test? In the above video, staff of the Rutland Heart Center at Rutland Regional Medical Center talk about what you can expect and demonstrate the test.

Women & Heart Disease

In the above video, Laura Cohen, APRN, Michael Robertello, MD and Stanley Shapiro, MD from the Rutland Heart Center discuss the risk factors & symptoms of heart disease and how you can lower your risk.

Contact Us

You can reach the Rutland Heart Center at 1.855.RHC.BEAT (1.855.742.2328) or at 802.747.3600.

Rutland Heart Center
12 Commons Street
Rutland, VT 05701

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