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Dr. Lazar’s Heart Health Focus
February is American Heart Month and Dr. Michael Lazar, medical director of UPMC’s Heart & Vascular Institute in the Susquehanna region, has much to say about our hearts, how heart health care has changed, and the services that UPMC offers throughout our region.
Why is it important to take time to focus on your heart health? The heart is one of the most important organs in the body. Heart disease is a real concern in the U.S. and is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in U.S. One person dies every 37 seconds in the U.S. from cardiovascular disease.
Coronary artery disease is the narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, usually caused by atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis (sometimes called “hardening” or “clogging” of the arteries) is the buildup of cholesterol and fatty deposits (called plaques) on the inner walls of the arteries. Because coronary artery disease often develops over decades, you might not notice a problem until you have a significant blockage or a heart attack. But there’s plenty you can do to prevent and treat coronary artery disease. A healthy lifestyle can make a big impact.
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. In some cases, the heart can’t fill with enough blood. In other cases, the heart can’t pump blood to the rest of the body with enough force. Some people have both problems. Conditions managed with a provider through lifestyle adjustment, medication, and/or surgery
Heart attacks and cardiac arrest are serious medical conditions and require immediate medical attention. Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is when the arteries that carry blood, oxygen, and nutrients get blocked. Heart attacks are a form of ACS. They occur when your heart doesn’t get enough blood supply. A heart attack is also known as a myocardial infarction.
These can include: Widowmaker, STEMI, NSTEMI, and Coronary Spasm.
With sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating unexpectedly. Sudden cardiac arrest is an electrical problem. A heart attack can cause a cardiac arrest. In cardiac arrest (also called sudden cardiac death or SCD), death results when the heart suddenly stops working properly. This is caused by irregular heart rhythms called arrhythmias. The most common arrhythmia in cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation. This is when the heart’s lower chambers suddenly start beating chaotically and don’t pump blood. Death occurs within minutes after the heart stops.
Cardiac arrest may be reversed if CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is performed and a defibrillator is used within minutes to shock the heart and restore a normal heart rhythm.
What are the signs and symptoms we should be aware of to recognize a heart emergency? Know your family history and manage risks, which can be different for everyone.
You may feel pressure or tightness in your chest, as if someone were standing on your chest. This pain, referred to as angina, usually occurs on the middle or left side of the chest. Angina is generally triggered by physical or emotional stress. The pain usually goes away within minutes after stopping the stressful activity. In some people, especially women, this pain may be fleeting or sharp and felt in the neck, arm or back.
Shortness of breath is another symptom to watch. If your heart can’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs, you may develop shortness of breath or extreme fatigue with exertion.
Be aware of heart attacks and what they look like. A completely blocked coronary artery will cause a heart attack. The classic signs and symptoms of a heart attack include crushing pressure in your chest and pain in your shoulder or arm, sometimes with shortness of breath and sweating.
Women are somewhat more likely than men are to experience less typical signs and symptoms of a heart attack, such as neck or jaw pain. Sometimes a heart attack occurs without any apparent signs or symptoms. Again, in a heart emergency it’s important to get medical treatment as soon as possible because time is muscle. Call 911.
UPMC’s Heart & Vascular Institute is located in Williamsport, however their team of providers also offer services in Mansfield and Wellsboro. Dr. Raymond Resnick sees patients in northern tier at the Mansfield clinic, while emergency care can be found at UPMC Wellsboro. When you need it, specialty care is a short drive away in Williamsport. Follow up, rehabilitation, and recovery can be done back in Tioga County – close to home.
More information on heart health and the services offered by UPMC in the Susquehanna region can be found by visiting UPMCSusquehanna.org/Heart.
Article written by Tyler Wagner, UPMC – edited by Home Page staff.
Videography: Andrew Moore
Video Editing: Andrew Moore
Anchor: Rhonda Pearson
Correspondent: Sara Vogt
Produced by Vogt Media
Home Page Sponsors: UPMC