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Ask the Doctors: Pacemaker vs. Defibrillator; What’s Involved in a Stress Test

My mother has a pacemaker, and my father has a defibrillator. What’s the difference between these devices? The most basic way to look at pacemakers versus defibrillators is that pacemakers do not have the ability to defibrillate, which means to shock the heart into a normal rhythm. However, the vast majority of defibrillators can also […]

Ask the Doctors: Cardiac Clearance; Triggering A-Fib

Q: My doctor told me I needed cardiac clearance before my upcoming knee surgery. What does this involve? A: The common term is “cardiac clearance,” but we don’t “clear” patients for surgery. Rather, we assess the patient’s risk of having a cardiac event during or after a surgical procedure. If the surgery is performed as an […]

Ask the Doctors: Why is the purpose of getting a coronary artery calcium score?;...

What is the purpose of getting a coronary artery calcium score? The amount of calcium in the coronary arteries has been associated with increased risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). Although obtaining a coronary artery ­calcium score can be quite helpful in certain­ individuals when making decisions about starting or escalating lipid-lowering therapy, the presence of […]

Ask the Doctors: What’s in a Baseline Cardiac Exam?; What is Being Board Certified?

What is included in a baseline cardiac exam, and when should I have one? I am healthy and in my 30s, but my father had a heart attack in his late 40s and my grandfather in his early 50s. Cardiac examination involves a total body assessment with emphasis on the heart, lungs, extremities and blood […]

Ask the Doctors: LDL Cholesterol; Aerobic Exercise & Pacemakers

I had a heart attack and have been on statins. My doctor says my LDL cholesterol is not low enough. What should it be? What other treatment options exist? Since individuals with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), particularly those with a previous heart attack, are at high risk for a recurrent event, LDL treatment goals are […]

Ask the Doctors: Does Aspirin Prevent Heart Attacks; Elevated Triglycerides

I am 60 and do not have heart disease. Will taking aspirin help prevent a heart attack? Few would argue against aspirin use to prevent a recurrent event (secondary prevention) in someone with known cardiovascular disease. However, aspirin for primary prevention of a first heart attack, stroke or death remains controversial. After a study showed […]

Ask the Doctors: February 2020

I take medications for blood pressure control. My friend read that it is best to take them at bedtime. Is this true? If so, why? Adequate control of high blood pressure (BP) is important to protect against heart attack and stroke. Many BP meds are long-acting for ease of use and once-daily dosing, which is […]

Ask the Doctors: January 2020

I recently had valve surgery, and my doctor recommended cardiac rehab. Isn’t that just for people who had a heart attack or bypass surgery? In addition to coronary artery disease and diagnoses such as heart attack, angina, bypass surgery and angioplasty or stenting, other indications for cardiac rehab (CR) include heart valve repair or replacement, […]

Ask The Doctors: December 2019

Why is it important to get a flu shot if you have heart disease? When is it too late to get it?Flu season can begin as early as October and extend as late as May, but typically peaks from December to February. Antibodies to the flu peak four to six weeks after getting vaccinated and then slowly decline for six months. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommends that everyone over 6 months of age without a specific reason not to get vaccinated, such as a history of allergic reactions to the shot, get vaccinated by the end of October. However, getting vaccinated any time before January can still be beneficial.

Ask The Doctors: November 2019

The duration of DAPT depends on the reason for stenting (stable heart disease versus acute heart attack), the type of stent used and the patient's clotting and bleeding risks. Because the clotting risk is high after a recent heart attack, in your case there is strong data to support DAPT for at least one year. One recent clinical trial demonstrated a lower late clotting risk but more bleeding events with 30 versus 12 months of DAPT. This suggests patients with high clotting risk but low bleeding risk may benefit from taking DAPT longer.

Ask The Doctors: October 2019

Heart failure (HF) can be caused by a heart attack or similar event that impairs the heart's pumping function and reduces the amount of blood ejected with each beat (heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, or HFrEF). There is also a second form called heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). These patients typically suffer from heart failure symptoms, but their ejection fraction is normal. Morbidity and mortality are similar in both forms.

Ask The Doctors: September 2019

Such a group was studied in REDUCE-IT. This trial involved 8,179 patients with CVD or diabetes plus other risk factors and LDL levels of 40-100 mg/dL on statin therapy. Over five years, 4 grams a day of the fish oil icosapent ethyl reduced both first and subsequent heart attacks and strokes as well as CVD deaths by 25%. Although icosapent ethyl is a TG-lowering agent, the results appeared to be independent of patients' baseline TG levels. This suggests some benefit was due to independent actions, such as potent plaque-stabilizing properties. This fish oil product is currently FDA-approved only for treating TG levels above 500 mg/dL.