CONDITIONS WE TREAT
At the Florida Heart Clinic, we treat a wide assortment of cardiology symptoms and conditions, including:
One of our patients’ most common complaints is shortness of breath. Many diseases and conditions can lead to this problem, including lung diseases, heart conditions, and many others. Clogged heart arteries, heart valve problems, and heart failure may all be contributing factors. Acute (sudden) shortness of breath is a serious issue, and patients with unexpected and sudden shortness of breath need to call 911 right away!
Patients that present with chronic shortness of breath to the cardiologist will undergo a thorough evaluation and cardiac testing to assess whether a heart condition is part of the problem. Therapy is aimed at treating the underlying problem. In many cases, your cardiologist will work as a team with your general practitioner and possibly a lung specialist, depending on the underlying cause of the problem.
Chest pain is always a very concerning symptom, and it needs to be thoroughly evaluated in all cases. Many patients with chest pain have partially or even totally blocked heart arteries, which are unable to give enough blood supply to the heart muscle.
Patients that have recurring chest pain may benefit from stress testing. During this evaluation, the cardiologist challenges the heart by having the patient exercise on a treadmill, or by injecting a medication that stresses the heart chemically. Continuous surveillance of the patient’s EKG (electrocardiogram), and, in many cases, special imaging techniques, help to find out whether the patient’s chest pain is caused by blocked heart arteries.
Effective treatments for this condition are available and include invasive treatments (such as balloon treatments of the heart arteries, stent placements etc.), medical therapy to stabilize and protect the heart long-term, preventive treatments, and changes in lifestyle such as diet and exercise. Remember that the evaluation of chest pain should never be delayed or omitted.
Many conditions can cause sudden fainting, and many organs may be involved. Neurological issues, heart conditions, problems relating to medication the patient is taking, and many other issues can cause fainting. Your cardiologist will search for possible heart problems or medication intolerances. Often, heart rhythm problems are found. Depending on the findings of the cardiac workup, a referral to other specialty doctors may be needed. Your family doctor or primary care provider will play a leading role in coordinating your care.
Dizziness is a very common complaint. The problem may be acute or chronic, it may be caused or exacerbated by certain medications or certain activities, and it may be due to a heart condition. A thorough workup is needed, including a review of your medication, a search for underlying and undiagnosed diseases such as heart rhythm problems, possible heart weakness, blocked arteries in your neck or head, heart valve problems and many others.
Many elderly patients, in particular smokers, have blockages in the arteries that supply the leg muscles with blood. Since more blood is needed by the legs during walking, such blocked arteries may not allow the legs to obtain the blood supply they need, leading to pain and weakness. Effective treatments are available in many cases, including catheter-based methods to reduce blockages, surgical options, stent placement, medical therapy and others. In all cases the patient needs to make significant lifestyle changes if treatment is to be successful in the long term.
High Blood Pressure (or hypertension) is very common. Sadly, the problem is undiagnosed in many patients, and it can create serious health problems if left unattended. In many patients, there is a genetic predisposition to this problem, but lifestyle choices (such as a diet high in salt, immoderate alcohol use, lack of exercise) play a significant role as well.
Your cardiologist will work closely with your primary care provider to bring your pressure under control. Long term medical treatment is needed in many cases, and usually well tolerated. Further, a workup may need to be done to ensure that none of the organs in your body have suffered damage due to previous uncontrolled blood pressure. Diet, exercise, and the avoidance of excessive alcohol use are important to ensure treatment success.
A heart attack (or myocardial infarction) is a serious, life threatening condition that needs to be treated right away. Anybody who believes to have a heart attack needs to call 911 immediately! Effective treatment begins with the arrival of the EMT team and continues upon reaching a hospital that is equipped to handle this emergency. Do not drive yourself to the hospital, as you may lose consciousness on the way – always call 911!
The underlying cause is in the vast majority of cases a sudden complete closure of one of the arteries that feed the heart muscle with blood. Many heart attacks can be stopped in the hospital by inserting catheters into the heart, finding the blockage, removing the blockage, and placing a small metal sleeve (stent) to stabilize the artery. After the acute treatment, your heart doctor and your primary care physician will work with you to ensure that this problem does not occur again.
One simple way to define heart failure is the inability by the heart to supply the body with the amount of blood flow that is needed. Clogged heart arteries (coronary arteries), blocked or leaking heart valves, heart muscle weakness, and unusual and unhealthy thickening of the heart muscle all may be reasons for the development of heart failure. Symptoms that the patient experiences may include shortness of breath, the inability to lie flat, fatigue, weakness, the inability to climb stairs, swollen legs, and many others.
The sooner the underlying problem is identified and treated, the better is the outlook to achieve long lasting symptom relief and, in some cases, even a cure of the condition
In some patients, with age, the arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood develop inner deposits that grow over time and cause the artery to allow less and less blood to pass through. If the artery closes suddenly, a heart attack develops. If the artery closes slowly over time, many patients will notice a feeling of tightness or pressure in the chest, pain below the breast bone, or pain that goes into the neck, the jaw, or the left arm.
If you are suspected of having coronary artery disease, your heart doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms, do a complete physical exam, and have you undergo a stress test. Depending on the patient’s physical fitness and other factors including your preference, your doctor may choose to have you walk on a treadmill to challenge your heart, or your heart can be challenged by way of intravenous medications. Your heart rhythm will be monitored with a continuous electrocardiogram (EKG), and in many cases additional imaging will be done to directly look at how your heart is able to cope with stress. Sometimes, your doctor may suggest that you undergo a heart catheterization test, during which the heart arteries are examined under X-ray, using small catheters that access the heart arteries to inject contrast dye.
Once the diagnosis of coronary artery is made, your doctor and you will choose the treatment option that is best for you. If the presence of blockages in your heart arteries is confirmed, your doctor may open up these blockages and place small metal sleeves (stents) to stabilize the artery. Certain other patients are best served by undergoing open heart surgery and bypass placement.
Lifestyle changes are necessary in all cases. If you smoke, you will have to make a serious effort to stop. our diet will have to change. Long term medical treatment is needed in almost all cases. Most patients will benefit from regular exercise at a level appropriate for them.
Blood vessels in the body (arteries and veins) may develop problems with age. Blockages and other problems may affect not only heart arteries (coronary arteries), but also the aorta (the main artery in the chest and abdomen), neck arteries, arteries in the brain or in the kidneys, or even in the legs and other places. When symptoms and complications arise, they will depend on the exact location of the problem. Such complications and/or symptoms may include high blood pressure (kidney artery blockages), dizziness or even stroke (neck arteries), and problems with walking (neck arteries), to name only a few.
Some clinics (including the Florida Heart Clinic) specialize also in the diagnosis and treatment of such peripheral (outside the heart) vascular disease. Imaging tests are available to further define the problem once an initial physical exam has been performed. Once the exact nature of the problem has been identified, treatment options will be discussed between the patient and the doctor. These treatment options may involve the opening of blockages by catheter, surgery, medical therapy, or a combination of these approaches.
Similar to patients with blocked heart arteries, smoking cessation, dietary changes, and a sensible exercise program will go a long way to prevent or slow the progression of the disease and to ensure that the patient’s quality of life is impacted as little as possible.
A healthy heart beats regularly at a rate of between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Athletes’ hearts often beat a little slower. With exercise, the heart rate needs to go up in order to allow the body to receive more blood supply. Some patients develop problems due to a heart rhythm that is either irregular (‘out of sync’), or too slow, or too fast, or all of it together. The underlying problem may be ageing of the heart’s natural electrical system, a health condition affecting another organ (e.g. a thyroid gland condition), side effects of medications that the patient is taking, and many, many more.
Symptoms that the patient may feel include fainting spells, dizziness, weakness, fatigue, and the feeling of skipped or pounding heart beats. Your heart doctor will find out what exact type of heart rhythm problem you have and why this is happening. Once the problem has been identified, the treatment may involve a change in your medication plan, treatment of other conditions outside the heart (e.g. thyroid problems), and sometimes even the implantation of a small device to ensure that the heart is beating fast enough (a pacemaker).
Heart valves are small structures inside the heart that ensure that the blood is always being pumped in the right direction. Some patients are born with abnormalities of these valves, which render them ineffective later in life. Other patients suffer from diseases during adolescence that make the valves vulnerable to wear and tear. Still other patients suffer from infections that attack the heart valves. Some ‘diet supplements’ and some pills purchased from dubious sources over the internet or illegally can hurt the heart valves. Patients with heart valve problems may develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, and others. These symptoms, at times, can be acute and dramatic; in other patients they develop slowly over time.
Your heart doctor will do a thorough physical exam which includes listening to your heart with a stethoscope. Additional testing may include an ultrasound examination of the heart that shows the valves in moving images and possibly even a heart catheter examination by way of a computed tomography (CT) study of your chest. Depending on the heart valve affected and the severity of the condition, treatment strategies may involve surveillance, medical therapy, or even placement of a new heart valve by catheter or surgical techniques.