February 24, 2023

5 key questions about heart disease

Even though February is highlighted by the American Heart Association as “Heart Month,” one’s cardiovascular health is key to living a happy and healthy life every day.

We asked Mindy Markowitz, M.D., a cardiologist with Pascack Valley Medical Group, to answer some of the most common questions about cardiovascular diseases. Dr. Markowitz has extensive experience in treating a variety of cardiac conditions.

"I chose cardiology because it allows me to make a significant impact in the prevention and treatment of so many diseases related to one’s heart and vascular system,” said Dr. Markowitz. “There are new innovations in cardiac medicine that truly help patients to feel better and achieve positive health results. I want to help my patients prevent heart disease in order for them to live longer lives with a better quality of life.”

What are the most common heart disorders?

The 5 most common heart disorders are:

  • > Coronary artery disease – a hardening/narrowing of the arteries that lead to the heart
  • Heart attack (myocardial infarction) – caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart
  • Atrial fibrillation (arrhythmias) – a fluctuation in the heart rhythm that can interrupt blood flow
  • Heart valve problems (aortic and  mitral valve disease) – when 1 or more of the heart valves don’t open or close correctly, interrupting blood flow
  • Heart failure – stiffness in the heart muscle that prevents the heart from pumping blood

Which are the most common causes of heart disease?

The following are the most common causes of heart disease:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • High levels of low-density (LDL) cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Inactivity

What are the main symptoms of heart disease?

Be aware of the following symptoms, which could be signs of heart disease. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may need to see a doctor or call 911.

  • Chest pain, tightness, pressure, overall chest discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper belly area or back
  • Pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in the legs or arms 
  • Heart palpitations

What screenings should I take to prevent a heart disorder?

It is very important, especially as you age, to get screened for heart disease and related illnesses. Know and record your dates and numbers from these screenings that could signal cardiovascular disease:

  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol – HDL and especially LDL
  • Diabetes – A1c, which is an average blood sugar level over 30 days
  • A baseline EKG may be considered for certain patients

How can I prevent a silent heart attack?

A silent heart attack is one that does not present any symptoms like shortness of breath or chest pain. To minimize your risk of a silent heart attack, it is important to regularly get your annual screenings (listed above) to ensure that your levels are under control. With any new or concerning symptoms, be sure to seek appropriate and prompt medical attention.

For more information about our cardiology services or to schedule an appointment, visit our web page or call us at 877-848-WELL (9355).

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