About Heart Disease
In spite of the many efforts in the past decade to embrace a healthier lifestyle through diet and exercise, heart disease continues to be the silent killer and number one cause of death in the American population. Although technological advances have allowed us to visualize arteries and image the heart as never before, it still is incumbent on the individual to be more educated, stay informed and develop a relationship with a cardiac consultant early enough to understand the symptoms of heart disease and develop a baseline for care.
Many factors contribute to the onset of heart disease. Some of these are genetic while others stem from underlying contributing medical conditions. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of early cardiac disease.
According to Dr. Lees, “You should think of the cardiovascular system as a circuit wherein the heart is the power source. The heart is like the Fermi reactor. Usually, it just keeps going with appropriate maintenance. However, even if a local circuit goes out or a line comes down, problems arise.”
Sometimes the sign that a problem exists can be as simple as COLD FEET, or a SORE TOE which does not heal properly. Simply stated, there is not enough blood getting to the source. This can either be from a weak heart, or more frequently, from the build up of plaque PAD (peripheral artery disease) downstream. The diagnosis can be easily confirmed by Doppler testing, and treatment can be performed if necessary on an outpatient basis.
Sometimes PAD manifests itself as ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION caused by an insufficient flow of blood to where it is needed. The male patient may dismiss this as signs of age, and although seeking a cure through pharmacology by using Viagra or Cialis may help, it is probably not addressing the underlying problem. Dr. Rene Leriche described this problem over 100 years ago, and the cause was found to be PAD of the aortoiliac area in the lower abdomen or pelvis. Often there are accompanying cramping pains in the buttocks or thighs as well. Testing in our vascular lab with a Doppler machine can make the diagnosis, and the treatment, usually with stents, can be performed as an outpatient.
The secret, which is seldom understood, however, is that most of these problems are signs that the heart itself may be suffering from the same problem with its own (coronary) arteries. If this is the case, then it becomes imperative that the patient seek immediate consultation. We cannot stress enough that the leading cause of death in men and women is coronary artery disease (CAD).
Blood tests such as cholesterol or CRP, and treadmill tests as well as vascular Doppler tests are used as screening modalities. Carotid Doppler testing will render a detailed picture of one of the body’s most important arteries. If it shows significant plaque then it is realistic to expect a similar situation in the coronary arteries.
Unfortunately, the stakes are high in dealing with coronary artery disease and no patient can afford to be in the dark.
If you are experiencing symptoms, have a genetic disposition, or have anxiety about the possibility of heart disease, please contact our office with your concerns and we will arrange for a consultation.
View the Movie
Dr. Lees discusses patient centered comprehensive cardiac care, detection of symptoms, diagnosis, intervention and his complete commitment to patient care.