By Craig Hostig, M.D., FACC -The Heart Group of South Florida
There have been incredible technological advancements in cardiology over the past 2-3 decades. Cardiologists have had to spend additional time training in various subspecialties to keep up with the growth of new procedures and devices. Advanced cardiac imaging (coronary CT Angiography & Cardiac MRI) is having a significant impact on how we diagnose various structural cardiac abnormalities. Biotechnological advances are being used to develop a new generation of drugs. There is work being done in the field of genetics which may result in our ability one day to grow a new heart from your own DNA. But for now, genetic testing can be helpful in screening and diagnosing common cardiac conditions. It can also provide information which can help tailor medical therapy for the individual patient. This information can be obtained with a simple swab of the cheek in the office.
Coronary CTA and Cardiac MRI through sophisticated software can create extremely detailed images of the heart and it’s arteries. Coronary CTA is used to image a beating heart to look for blockages in arteries that measure only a few millimeters in diameter. If you do have cholesterol plaque in your arteries, you may need one of the new monoclonal anti-body drugs in addition to traditional statin therapy to slow the progression of the disease. If symptoms are so severe or if you are having a heart attack you may require a coronary stent. The technology has advanced rapidly from nearly obsolete balloon angioplasty to drug coated stents.
Some people have disorders of the cardiac electrical system requiring the placement of pacemakers and/or defibrillators. Some of the new generation pacemakers are leadless, while defibrillators can be implanted under your skin without wires entering the heart. Arrhythmias can be cured with advanced ablation therapy. Atrial fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia which is associated with a high stroke risk. These types of strokes can be prevented by implanting a device in the heart. Patients with congestive heart failure can be treated with specialized implantable pacemakers and defibrillators which can actually improve the strength of the heart. Other more complex devices are now commonly used for patients awaiting heart transplants.
How fortunate we are to have all this technology at our disposal! Wouldn’t you be more fortunate not to ever need it? I truly believe much of heart disease can be prevented. Although at this time, there is not much we can do to change our genetic makeup, there are many opportunities to alter your own personal risk factors. Obesity, an epidemic in this country, has been implicated to cause direct cardiac damage. Obesity can lead to other serious risk factors including diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnea. As you can see, the list of diseases associated with obesity grows exponentially.
So, maybe it’s time to take a low-tech approach to heart disease. Diet, exercise, weight management, adequate sleep, stress reduction, and avoidance of toxic substances like tobacco do not require advanced technology. This low tech approach should apply to your entire family including your children. If all they know is a healthy lifestyle the better off they will be. Physical activity and stress reduction can absolutely help prevent and manage heart disease. Exercise can include brisk walking, dancing, gardening and even household chores. Recommendations for stress reduction can include breathing exercises, meditation, soothing music and yoga.
So, get up, go for a walk, and think about what I’ve written and how important protecting your heart is to you and your family. Be accountable for your own health and maybe even more important, the health of your children. Make a commitment to yourself and your family starting today. It may sound simple, but making the right choices can lead to a longer, happier and healthier life.
The Heart Group of South Florida
5901 Colonial Dr. Suite 302, Margate Fl 33063
For an appointment, please call 954-884-0111