Health Library

The Health Library is a collection of health and wellness resources created for learning and accessibility. Select a topic below for related health information or search for a topic in the search bar for more information on other medical conditions.

Cardiology

  • Discusses nonsurgical procedure, called catheter ablation, for atrial fibrillation if medicine is not effective or not tolerated. Also discusses implanting a pacemaker. Looks at why procedure is done, how well it works, and possible risks.

  • Discusses procedure that uses electric current to reset heart's rhythm to its regular pattern. Covers its use to stop atrial fibrillation. Discusses what to expect after treatment, how well it works, and risks.

  • Discusses atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). Covers causes, including high blood pressure and CAD. Discusses what increases your risk. Covers treatment with medicines, cardioversion, and catheter ablation.

  • Tony has done well with getting his cholesterol under control. And he's had a notable failure. But as Tony tells it, "I've learned as much from the failure as I have from the success. Maybe more." About 2 years ago, Tony's doctor told him that he had a high risk for heart attack and that his cholesterol was high. This...

  • Heart tests can help your doctor find out if you are at risk for a heart problem, if you have a heart problem, and what treatment you need. There are many heart tests. Most are noninvasive, which means that your doctor does not insert a device into your body for the test. Many of the tests provide still or moving...

  • Guides you through decision to have cardioversion for atrial fibrillation. Discusses electrical cardioversion and rate control drugs. Lists benefits and risks. Includes interactive tool to help you make your decision.

  • The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet can help you lower your blood pressure. It includes eating fruits, vegetables, and low-fat or nonfat dairy foods. For more information on the DASH diet, see: High Blood Pressure: Using the DASH...

  • Having bradycardia (say "bray-dee-KAR-dee-uh") means that your heart beats very slowly. For most people, a heart rate of 60 to 100 beats a minute while at rest is considered normal. If your heart beats less than 60 times a minute, it is slower than...

  • Topic guides reader through decision to get an ICD for heart rhythm problems. Provides general overview of what ICDs are and what heart rhythm problems can be helped with ICDs. Lists benefits and possible complications of getting an ICD.

  • Learn which medicines could make your heart failure worse.

  • Learn why sodium is bad for heart failure and get tips for low-sodium meals.

  • This topic is about high blood pressure that some women get while they are pregnant. For information about preeclampsia, a more serious kind of high blood pressure, see the topic Preeclampsia. It's normal for blood pressure to go up and down...

  • Learn to keep track of your symptoms to help manage your heart failure.

  • If you check your blood pressure, you may wonder when an abnormal reading means you should call your doctor. This information can help you understand what your blood pressure numbers mean and when you need to call for help. What do blood pressure numbers mean? Your blood pressure consists of two numbers...

  • Learn how to take small steps toward long-term self-care for heart failure.

  • Learn why taking a statin pill is such an important part of your treatment.

  • Learn why it's important to take antiplatelet medicine after your stroke.

  • Learn how to have a healthy, active lifestyle with atrial fibrillation.

  • Learn how to easily check your symptoms daily so you can stay healthy.

  • Find what motivates you to add a little activity to your life and benefit your heart.

  • Learn how to care for a central or PICC IV line at home.

  • Hear how one woman found the support she needed to make heart-healthy choices.

  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a way to replace the aortic valve without open-heart surgery. This procedure is done to treat aortic valve stenosis. TAVR is often done through an incision (cut) in the groin. But sometimes a small cut is made in the chest. The doctor uses a tube called a catheter and...

  • Find out how to eat a consistent amount of vitamin K so your warfarin (Coumadin) medicine will work the way it should.

  • Learn what an anticoagulant (blood thinner) shot is, and see how to give yourself an injection.

  • What is left ventricular hypertrophy? Left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) means that the muscle of the heart's main pump (left ventricle) has become thick and enlarged. This can happen over time if the left ventricle has to work too hard. This part of the heart needs to be strong to pump oxygen-rich blood to your...

  • Learn what it means for you and your baby when you're pregnant and have high blood pressure.

  • Find out why it's important to keep taking your ACE inhibitor or ARB and how to make it easier.

  • Learn why you need to take your beta-blocker and how to make it easier to take.

  • Find out how to make it easier to take your diuretic.

  • Learn how to give an injection under the skin.

  • Learn what an echocardiogram for children is and how it's done.

  • Learn what an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) for children is and how it's done.

  • Learn what cardiac catheterization for PDA is and how to prepare your child for it.

  • Learn what you can do at home to care for your child after a cardiac catheterization for PDA.

  • Learn what an EP study and ablation are and how to prepare your child for each one.

  • Learn what you can do at home to care for your child after an EP study and ablation.

  • Learn what blood pressure is, what it means when it's high, and how high blood pressure may be treated.

  • Find out how you'll feel after a catheter ablation and how to take care of yourself at home.

  • Find out how you'll feel after coronary angioplasty and how to take care of yourself at home.

  • This guide covers the basics of renal artery stenosis, including what it is, what causes it, and how it is treated.

  • Discusses importance of tracking weight for those with heart failure. Offers links to info on watching fluid intake, activity and exercise, and eating less salt. Covers how to check your weight when you have heart failure.

  • Guides you through decision to have bypass surgery. Explains when bypass surgery might be needed. Covers other treatment options. Includes interactive tool to help you make your decision.

  • Alan is something of a miracle man. At the age of 32, he had a massive heart attack. But more than 40 years, 4 bypass surgeries, 30 angioplasties, and a combined pacemaker/defibrillator later, he's still thriving. He learned how to cope with heart disease the hard way. Alan had always been healthy and athletic. Except...

  • A heart-healthy eating plan is full of foods that can lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. This plan can help you stay at a healthy weight and manage cholesterol and blood pressure. It is part of a heart-healthy lifestyle that...

  • There are lots of things you can do to lower your risk for coronary artery disease. But some diets and dietary supplements do not lower risk. It's not clear if vitamins, minerals, and multivitamins can lower risk. Talk with your doctor about the best ways to lower your risk of heart disease. By eating heart-healthy...

  • Guides you through the decision to have a coronary calcium scan. Explains why a coronary calcium scan is done and what it can show. Lists treatments that might come after a coronary calcium scan. Lists risks and benefits. Includes interactive tool to help you decide.

  • Most people who have stable angina can control their symptoms by taking medicines as prescribed and nitroglycerin when needed. Staying active is also important. Before you get started, ask your doctor what kind of activities would be good for you. But if prescription medicines and activity don't help you manage your...

  • Provides links to information about high blood pressure. Describes what blood pressure is, high blood pressure's effect on health, and how high blood pressure is treated. Has links to lifestyle changes and medications used to treat high blood pressure.

  • Discusses possible causes of chest pain, which include angina, heart attack, pneumothorax, or chest wall pain. Covers heart attack symptoms. Includes interactive tool to decide when to seek care. Offers home treatment and prevention tips.

  • In cardiac arrest, the heart suddenly stops beating. This causes blood to stop pumping to the body. If the heartbeat is not restarted within minutes, the person will die. This problem is also called sudden cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is different...

  • Many medicines and drugs can affect the rate and rhythm of the heart. A few examples are: Asthma medicines. Decongestants and cold medicines. Illegal drugs such as cocaine or amphetamines. Some heart and blood pressure medicines. Some medicines for depression and anxiety. Thyroid medicine. Illegal drugs, such as...

  • Talk to your doctor about when a cholesterol test is right for you. Doctors use different guidelines to decide when a person should have a cholesterol test. Your doctor might suggest a test based on your age or your risk factors for heart disease....

  • What is low blood pressure? Low blood pressure means that your blood pressure is lower than normal. Another name for low blood pressure is hypotension (say "hy-poh-TEN-shun"). In most healthy adults, low blood pressure does not cause problems or symptoms. In fact, it may be normal for you. For example, people who...

  • Linda's best friend had just had a heart attack. Linda, 56, and Terri, 52, work together in the records section of their city's police department. They had also been working on getting healthier together. They both had high cholesterol and were overweight. They both smoked. But they'd been going to aerobics class and...

  • When Joe turned 60 last year, he decided he was overdue for a good, old-fashioned physical. He had always been blessed with good health, but he knew that at his age he should be having regular checkups, especially since he was overweight. His doctor gave him a full exam and found no serious health problems. She also...

  • High cholesterol is treated with heart-healthy lifestyle changes and medicine. These can lower your cholesterol and your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. You and your doctor may decide to first try treating your high cholesterol without medicine. Changing some of your habits may be all you need to do to...

  • Warfarin is a medicine that helps prevent blood clots. Coumadin is the common brand name for warfarin. Because it prevents clots, it also helps prevent heart attacks, strokes, and other problems caused by blood clots. It's important to know how to take warfarin safely.

  • What is the Mediterranean diet? The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating rather than a formal diet plan. It features foods eaten in Greece, Spain, southern Italy and France, and other countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating foods like fish, fruits, vegetables...

  • A normal heart rate for a healthy adult is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Heart rates of more than 100 beats per minute (tachycardia) can be caused by: Exercise or stress. This fast heart rate usually returns to normal range (60 to 100 beats...

  • A balloon valvotomy is a treatment for mitral valve stenosis. It is a procedure that widens the mitral valve so that blood flows more easily through the heart. A balloon valvotomy is a minimally invasive procedure. A doctor uses a thin flexible tube (catheter) that is inserted through an artery in the groin or arm and...

  • Living with heart failure may not be easy. But there are things you can do to feel better, stay healthy longer, and avoid the hospital. Good self-care means doing certain things every day, like taking your medicine. It's also about checking for symptoms such as weight gain and swelling. Tracking your symptoms every day...

  • Describes early heartbeats that happen when the ventricles beat too soon. Describes symptoms and when to call a doctor. Explains that in most cases the early heartbeats are not serious and go away on their own.

  • Topic guides reader through decision to get a pacemaker for heart rate problems. Provides general overview of what pacemakers are and what heart problems can be helped with pacemakers. Lists benefits and possible complications of getting a pacemaker.

  • Explains what a recall of a medical device is. Mentions that failure or recall of cardiac devices is rare. Covers the FDA classes of recall. Explains what to do if your cardiac device is recalled.

  • Clopidogrel (Plavix) is a medicine to prevent blood clots, which can cause heart attacks and strokes. It may be prescribed after a heart attack, after angioplasty, and for people who have heart disease or peripheral arterial disease. Some people...

  • Blood thinners are medicines that help prevent blood clots. Although they are called blood thinners, they don't really thin the blood. They slow down the time it takes for a blood clot to form. You have to be careful when you take blood thinner medicines. They can raise the risk of serious bleeding. But you can do...

  • You can help keep your heart and blood vessels healthy by taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle. These healthy habits include not smoking, eating right, exercising regularly, staying at a healthy weight, and getting the screening tests you need. A heart-healthy lifestyle is important for everyone, not just for...

  • Guides you through the decision to take warfarin or a different anticoagulant (apixaban, dabigatran, edoxaban, or rivaroxaban) to prevent stroke. Explains atrial fibrillation and risk of stroke. Lists benefits and risks of anticoagulants.

  • Balloon valvuloplasty (also called valvulotomy or valvotomy) is a procedure that widens a heart valve that is narrowed. The cause of this narrowing in the aortic valve is aortic valve stenosis. During this procedure, the doctor puts a thin, flexible tube called a catheter into a blood vessel in your upper leg (groin)...

  • Aortic valve replacement gives you a new aortic heart valve. The new valve may be mechanical or made of animal tissue. You and your doctor can decide before surgery which type of valve is best for you. The aortic valve opens and closes to keep blood flowing in the proper direction through your heart. When the aortic...

  • Learn how a heart-healthy lifestyle can lower your risk for heart disease.

  • Learn how keeping your mood healthy can also help keep your heart healthy.

  • Commissurotomy is an open-heart surgery that repairs a mitral valve that is narrowed from mitral valve stenosis. During this surgery, a person is put on a heart-lung bypass machine. The surgeon removes calcium deposits and other scar tissue from the valve leaflets. The surgeon may cut parts of the valve structure. This...

  • Learn what bypass surgery does for your heart and what will happen during surgery.

  • Learn how angioplasty opens narrowed or blocked coronary arteries to improve blood flow.

  • Discusses how to live with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), a device that helps control heart rhythm. Gives safety guidelines and tips for travel, exercise, and managing anxiety.

  • Learn how angioplasty can open narrowed or blocked arteries in your legs to improve blood flow.

  • Learn how the DASH eating plan can help lower your blood pressure.

  • Learn how medicine can help lower your blood pressure.

  • It's true—diabetes raises your risk of heart disease. That means your risks of heart attack and stroke are higher when you have diabetes. Diabetes is plenty to keep up with as it is. That explains why dealing with both heart risk and diabetes can seem like too much all at once. But it's also true that good...

  • Warfarin is a pill that you take regularly to help prevent blood clots or to keep a clot from getting bigger. Coumadin is the common brand name for warfarin. To ensure that warfarin is effectively thinning your blood, it's important to eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K normally helps your...

  • Learn how plaque in blood vessels can become a problem and cause a heart attack.

  • Learn how beta-blocker medicine helps your heart heal after a heart attack.

  • Get a clear, simple explanation of what happens during a heart attack.

  • Learn seven ways that can help you lower your risk for a heart attack.

  • Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) uses a special type of pacemaker called a biventricular pacemaker (say "by-ven-TRICK-yuh-ler") to treat heart failure. This pacemaker sends electrical pulses to make the ventricles pump at the same time. A biventricular pacemaker is implanted in the chest, and it connects to...

  • Learn why you need a written plan to know when heart failure symptoms are an emergency.

  • Learn why your daily care plan is so important for managing your heart failure.

  • Learn how to use a home blood pressure monitor.

  • Learn how to avoid things that could make your heart failure worse.

  • Understand how daily weight checks help you avoid heart failure emergencies.

  • Learn how exercise is good for your heart and how to be active and safe.

  • After you've had a heart attack, you may be worried that you could have another one. That's easy to understand. But the good news is that there are things you can do to reduce your risk of having another heart attack. Taking medicine, doing cardiac rehabilitation, and making healthy lifestyle changes can help...

  • Learn tips for limiting fluids to prevent fluid buildup.

  • Sex is part of a healthy life. And it can be safe for people who have heart problems. But some of these people may worry about having sex. Or they may have problems having sex or enjoying sex. If you are having sexual problems, talk with your...

  • Learn how medicines and a healthy lifestyle help protect you from another heart attack.

  • Learn how to start eating foods that are good for your heart.

  • Learn how regular exercise can help your heart get stronger and healthier.

  • Learn why it's important to know your risk for heart disease if you're a woman.

  • Hear a story about how heart attacks may feel different than you expect.

  • Learn how surgery is done to repair or replace heart valves.

  • Learn what catheter ablation is and how it is done to treat atrial fibrillation.

  • Find out what atrial fibrillation is and how it's treated.

  • How does your ICD help you? Your ICD can save your life. Your ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator) is always checking your heart rate and rhythm. If the ICD detects a life-threatening rapid heart rhythm, it tries to slow the rhythm back to normal using electrical pulses. If the dangerous rhythm doesn't...

  • See how three women found ways to fit heart-healthy habits into their busy lives.

  • Learn about catheter ablation for supraventricular tachycardia and how this procedure is done.

  • See how beta-blocker medicines work in your body and can help prevent another heart attack.

  • Hear why some people choose medicine and why others try to change their habits first.

  • Compare the pros and cons of taking a statin to lower your risk for heart attack and stroke.

  • Learn how high cholesterol raises your risk for heart attack and stroke.

  • Learn about making healthy changes that can help lower your risk for heart attack and stroke.

  • Learn how high blood pressure that isn't treated can cause serious health problems.

  • Compare the pros and cons of taking medicine for your high blood pressure.

  • Learn how healthy lifestyle changes can help lower your blood pressure.

  • Hear what other people thought about as they decided whether to take blood pressure pills.

  • Guides you through the decision to have catheter ablation for the heart rhythm problem supraventricular tachycardia. Lists benefits and risks of catheter ablation and medical therapy. Includes interactive tool to help you make your decision.

  • See how a diagnosis of heart disease inspired others to care for their heart.

  • Learn how heart disease affects you and how to help prevent a heart attack.

  • Learn why having diabetes raises your risk for heart disease and what you can do about it.

  • Learn how others accept taking heart medicines as part of daily life.

  • Picture an exercise plan you would enjoy, and commit to taking small steps to get there.

  • See how to get back to taking care of your heart.

  • See why your doctor prescribed low-dose aspirin for your heart.

  • Learn how to find what is getting in the way of taking your statin pill every day.

  • Learn from another person with heart failure about the importance of taking your ACE inhibitor/ARB.

  • Learn what you can do to be safe when you're taking warfarin.

  • Learn why you need to keep taking warfarin and how to get help so you can keep taking it.

  • Learn how clot-busting medicines are used for emergencies like stroke and heart attack.

  • Learn why it's important to take blood-thinning medicine after your stroke.

  • Sally never had to worry about her weight. She had always been active, enjoying her daily walks in the park. But things changed when Sally's mom had a heart attack. Sally took care of her mom night and day. But Sally got so busy taking care of her mom that she forgot to take care of herself. For months, Sally didn't...

  • Learn how to start tracking the sodium in all the foods and drinks you have each day.

  • Learn about help you'll get to manage your heart failure at home.

  • Learn how to reach out to friends and loved ones for support.

  • Learn how cardiac rehab works and how it can help you get stronger and feel better.

  • Learn how and why an angiogram is done.

  • Learn how you'll feel after an angiogram and how to take care of yourself at home.

  • See how a stress test works and how it's done.

  • Learn how to manage your symptoms and live better with a-fib.

  • Learn how an ICD works and how it can help your heart.

  • See what you can expect and how to prepare for getting a pacemaker.

  • See some tips for taking care of yourself after your procedure.

  • Learn how to be sure when changes in your symptoms mean you should get help.

  • Learn how checking your symptoms every day helps you manage your heart failure.

  • Learn how to adjust to life with a pacemaker and have an active, healthy life.

  • Learn what is checked during a cholesterol test, why you might need one, and what the results may mean.

  • Learn how to make a plan that helps you use medicines safely.

  • Learn how to make meals that are low in salt.

  • Learn when having an angiogram is helpful and when it may not be needed.

  • Hear what other people thought about as they decided whether to have a coronary angiogram.

  • Hear how cardiac rehab helped others have less fear and be more sure about how to live with a heart problem.

  • Hear what motivated other people to make changes to keep their heart healthy.

  • Learn how using a home blood pressure monitor can give you better control of your health.

  • Learn what raises your risk for having a heart attack or stroke and how you can lower your risk.

  • Learn what your cholesterol numbers mean for your health.

  • Some over-the-counter (OTC) medicines can raise your blood pressure or keep your blood pressure medicine from working the way it should. So if you have high blood pressure or other heart or blood vessel problems, you need to be careful with OTC...

  • Hear how atrial fibrillation affected three people's lives and how each one found a way to manage it.

  • POTS is a fast heart rate (tachycardia) that starts after you stand up. This can suddenly happen as long as 10 minutes after you stand. With POTS, the body does not control blood pressure or heart rate as it should after you stand up. So for a brief...

  • What is high blood pressure? Blood pressure is a measure of how hard the blood pushes against the walls of the arteries as it moves through the body. High blood pressure happens when the blood is pushing too hard. Another name for high blood pressure is hypertension. Blood pressure readings include two numbers...

  • Learn how to be safe when taking a blood thinner other than warfarin.

  • Learn what transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is and how it is done.

  • Use this form to describe the severity of your heart failure symptoms and whether they get worse. Also, record any new symptoms that develop. Take this form with you when you visit your doctor. Describe severity of symptoms and when they started...

  • Use this form to record the sodium content of the foods you eat or drink each day. This record will help you see whether you are getting too much sodium in your diet. Use the Nutrition Facts on food labels to help find how much sodium you eat. You can tell when your body retains fluid by weighing yourself often. Sodium...

  • Heart failure means that your heart muscle doesn't pump as much blood as your body needs. Because your heart cannot pump well, your heart and your body try to make up for it. This is called compensation. Your body has a remarkable ability to compensate for heart failure. The body may do such a good job that many...

  • Explains how to take medicine for congestive heart failure. Suggests schedules, lists, and pill containers to remember when to take medicines. Covers need-to-know names of medicines and side effects. Also how to handle missed doses, need to avoid certain medicines.

  • Tells how to limit sodium (salt) for better health. Gives tips on low-sodium diet and reading food labels. Includes tips for cooking with less sodium.

  • Discusses need to watch fluid intake with congestive heart failure. Gives tips on spacing fluids throughout day and how to easily keep track of fluid intake. Also mentions diuretic medicines to remove excess fluid from body.

  • Tells how to prevent sudden heart failure. Covers symptoms and lists triggers that lead to congestive heart failure: too much salt, too much exercise, and taking medicines wrong. Encourages staying with diet, medicine, and exercise plan.

  • Guides people not already diagnosed with coronary artery disease through decision to take statin medicine to lower risk of heart attack or stroke. Covers cholesterol and other risk factors. Includes interactive tool to help you make your decision.

  • In isolated systolic high blood pressure (isolated systolic hypertension, or ISH), systolic blood pressure is elevated, but diastolic blood pressure is normal. This type of high blood pressure is more common in older adults, especially older women....

  • In people who have cirrhosis, portal hypertension causes many problems. One serious complication is bleeding of enlarged veins, or varices, in the digestive tract (variceal bleeding). When the buildup of scar tissue caused by cirrhosis reduces the...

  • Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is caused by long-term heavy alcohol use. It is a type of dilated cardiomyopathy. The heart muscle is weakened and cannot pump blood efficiently. If your heart gets weaker, you may develop heart failure. Alcohol in excessive...

  • Tells how to exercise to improve health with congestive heart failure. Includes need for doctor's okay and exercise plan. Includes tips on physical activity like stretching, walking, swimming, lifting weights, yoga, and tai chi.

  • Almost all foods contain sodium, or salt, naturally or as an ingredient. But you don't always know it's there, or how much is there. Here are some tips to help you find sodium. Know what "low sodium'' means Labels on foods often claim that the food is "low-sodium" or something similar. Learn what these...

  • Thrombolytics are medicines that rapidly dissolve a blood clot. They are used when a blood clot causes an emergency, such as a heart attack or stroke. These clot-busting medicines help blood to flow normally again. Thrombolytics are used as soon as...

  • Your heart normally beats in a regular rhythm and rate that is just right for the work your body is doing at any moment. The usual resting heart rate for adults is between 50 to 100 beats per minute. Children have naturally higher normal heart rates...

  • Femoral-tibial bypass surgery (also known as infra-popliteal reconstruction) is used to bypass diseased blood vessels in the lower leg or foot. To bypass the narrowed or blocked blood vessel, blood is redirected through a healthy blood vessel that has been transplanted or through a man-made graft material. This vessel...

  • If you smoke, your chance of dying from a heart attack is 2 to 3 times greater than that of a person who does not smoke. About 1 out of 4 heart attacks is believed to be directly related to smoking. Smoking is a much more important risk factor for a...

  • Discusses peripheral arterial disease, a narrowing or blockage of arteries that results in poor blood flow to your arms and legs. Discusses causes and symptoms. Covers treatment with lifestyle changes, medicines, or surgery. Also offers prevention tips.

  • What is mitral valve regurgitation? Mitral valve regurgitation means that one of the valves in your heart—the mitral valve—is letting blood leak backward into the upper area of the heart. Heart valves work like one-way gates, helping blood flow in one direction between heart chambers or in and out of the heart. The...

  • A tilt table test is used to evaluate people who have had fainting or near-fainting spells. A tilt table test checks how your body responds when you change body positions. The body's nervous system detects changes in body position or stress and...

  • What is a cardiac device? Cardiac devices include pacemakers and ICDs (implantable cardioverter-defibrillators). Cardiac devices have very advanced features. Your doctor can program your device to work in different ways depending on your needs. What is monitoring? Doctors check, or monitor, cardiac...

  • Being active is part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. It can also help you keep peripheral arterial disease (PAD) from getting worse. Regular exercise can help you manage high blood pressure and cholesterol, which can help control PAD and reduce your...

  • Femoropopliteal (fem-pop) bypass surgery is used to bypass diseased blood vessels above or below the knee. To bypass the narrowed or blocked blood vessel, blood is redirected through either a healthy blood vessel that has been transplanted or a man-made graft material. This vessel or graft is sewn above and below the...

  • An ambulatory electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) records the electrical activity of your heart while you do your usual activities. Ambulatory means that you are able to walk during the test. This type of monitoring may also be called ambulatory EKG, Holter monitoring, 24-hour EKG, or cardiac event monitoring. Many heart...

  • There are several types of slow heart rates ( bradycardias or bradyarrhythmias). Each type carries a specific risk of complications and treatment options. Some of the types are described here. Sinus bradycardia When a person has sinus bradycardia, the heart rate is less than 60 beats per minute. This slow...

  • Learn what an ankle-brachial test is, why it's done, and what the results might mean.

  • Aortobifemoral bypass surgery is used to bypass diseased large blood vessels in the abdomen and groin. To bypass a narrowed or blocked blood vessel, blood is redirected through a graft made of synthetic material (such as polytetrafluoroethylene [PTFE] or Dacron). This graft is sewn above and below the diseased artery...

  • In this article, you'll learn the basics about peripheral arterial angioplasty, including how the procedure is done.

  • Red yeast rice is a product that is made by fermenting red rice with a certain type of yeast. Red yeast rice is also known as Cholestin, Hypocol, Xuezhikang, or Zhitai. Red yeast rice supplements are not the same as red yeast rice that is sold in Chinese grocery stores. Red yeast rice has been used in alternative...

  • Dizziness is a word that is often used to describe two different feelings. It is important to know exactly what you mean when you say "I feel dizzy," because it can help you and your doctor narrow down the list of possible problems. Lightheadedness is a feeling that you are about to faint or "pass out."...

  • What are the most important things you need to know about your medicines? Make sure you know about each of the medicines you take. This includes why you take it, how to take it, what you can expect while you're taking it, and any warnings about the medicine. The information provided here is general. So be sure to read...

  • What are the most important things you need to know about your medicines? Make sure you know about each of the medicines you take. This includes why you take it, how to take it, what you can expect while you're taking it, and any warnings about the medicine. The information provided here is general. So be sure...

  • What are the most important things you need to know about your medicines? Make sure you know about each of the medicines you take. This includes why you take it, how to take it, what you can expect while you're taking it, and any warnings about the medicine. The information provided here is general. So be sure...

  • Covers types of coronary bypass surgeries, also called CABG. Includes minimally invasive surgeries. Links to slideshow of CABG. Looks at when surgery is done. Describes how surgery is done, recovery time, and risks.

  • Covers procedure, which is also called percutaneous coronary intervention, to widen narrow coronary arteries for stable angina and heart attack. Links to a slideshow of angioplasty. Describes use of stent and balloon to open artery. Explains why it's done and when it's not done. Includes how well it works, risks, and...

  • Includes causes and symptoms of heart disease. Looks at cholesterol, hypertension, and risk of heart attack. Covers diet, physical activity, and treatment with medicines, angioplasty, and bypass surgery. Includes how to help prevent heart disease.

  • Physical activity is one of the best things you can do to help prevent a heart attack and stroke. Being active is one part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy foods, not smoking, and staying at a healthy weight are other ways you can be...

  • Eating fish, at least 2 servings each week, is part of a heart-healthy diet. Fish oil supplements can lower triglycerides. But doctors do not agree about whether these supplements can help protect your heart. Fish and fish oil supplements do not...

  • Covers the kinds of cholesterol. Explains that cholesterol is one of many risk factors for heart attack and stroke. Covers treatment to lower risk of heart attack and stroke that includes healthy habits and statins.

  • An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is a battery-powered device that can fix an abnormal heart rate or rhythm and prevent sudden death. The ICD is placed under the skin of the chest. It's attached to one or two wires (called leads). Most of the time, these leads go into the heart through a vein. An ICD...

  • Discusses infection of the heart's valves or inner lining (endocardium). Covers cause by bacteria (bacterial endocarditis) or fungi (fungal endocarditis). Looks at symptoms like fever. Covers treatment with medicines or possibly surgery.

  • What is pericarditis? Pericarditis is swelling and irritation of the pericardium, which is the sac that surrounds your heart. Pericarditis usually doesn't cause serious problems. Most people get better in 7 to 10 days. When there are problems, they may include: A buildup of fluid in the pericardial sac ( pericardial...

  • Mitral valve replacement surgery may be needed for mitral valve regurgitation or mitral valve stenosis . Valve replacement is typically done as an open-heart surgery. Minimally invasive types of surgery may be another option. This document describes open-heart surgery. Before you have valve replacement...

  • Discusses aortic valve regurgitation. Discusses symptoms and how it is diagnosed. Covers treatment with medicines and aortic valve replacement surgery. Covers lifestyle changes to help the heart work better.

  • What is aortic valve stenosis? Aortic valve stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve. The aortic valve allows blood to flow from the heart's lower left chamber (ventricle) into the aorta and to the body. Stenosis prevents the valve from opening properly, forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood through the...

  • A cardiac blood pool scan shows how well your heart is pumping blood to the rest of your body. During this test, a small amount of a radioactive substance called a tracer is injected into a vein. A gamma camera detects the radioactive material as it flows through the heart and lungs. The percentage of blood pumped...

  • Discusses test used to check your heart and coronary arteries. Covers reasons cardiac catheterization is done. Looks at how to prepare. Explains how the test is done in the cardiac catheterization laboratory (cath lab) by a cardiologist. Covers risks.

  • Women with chronic high blood pressure require special medical care before, during, and after their pregnancies. Some blood pressure medicines are not recommended for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor if you take blood...

  • Covers cholesterol and triglyceride blood tests to measure fatty substances in the blood. Explains why tests are done and how to prepare. Includes possible results and what they may mean. Looks at what may affect test results.

  • An echocardiogram (also called an echo) is a type of ultrasound test that uses high-pitched sound waves that are sent through a device called a transducer. The device picks up echoes of the sound waves as they bounce off the different parts of your heart. These echoes are turned into moving pictures of your heart that...

  • An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart. An EKG shows the heart's electrical activity as line tracings on paper. The spikes and dips in the tracings are called waves. The heart...

  • Secondary high blood pressure is high blood pressure that is caused by another disease or condition. It can also be caused by certain medicines. If your doctor can treat the cause of the high blood pressure, it might lower your blood pressure....

  • Exercise helps lower high blood pressure, which is an important risk factor for stroke. Exercise can help you control other things that put you at risk, such as obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes. It is important to exercise regularly. Do...

  • Using a home blood pressure monitor lets you keep track of your blood pressure at home. Blood pressure is a measure of how hard the blood pushes against the walls of your arteries as it moves through your body. Your blood pressure is recorded as two numbers. The first number shows how hard the blood pushes...

  • Discusses cardiac rehabilitation (rehab), which helps you feel better and reduce risk of future heart problems with exercise and lifestyle changes. Looks at rehab for people who have heart conditions such as heart attack, heart surgery, or heart failure.

  • A cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) program can help you make lifestyle changes. In cardiac rehabilitation (rehab), a team of health professionals provides education and support to help you make new, healthy habits. Quitting smoking is the best thing...

  • Exercise is an important part of a cardiac rehabilitation program. Combining exercise with other lifestyle changes, such as eating a balanced diet and stopping smoking, reduces the risk of future heart problems. Riding a stationary bike, walking on...

  • Cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) may start while you are in the hospital. The hospital program is one part, or phase, of your cardiac rehab. This phase emphasizes exercise and education. The parts of a hospital program include: A customized exercise program, based on your medical history, clinical condition, and...

  • Your cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) might include an exercise program that you do at home. You might start this program after you go home from the hospital. The home program is one part, or phase, of your cardiac rehab. The goals of a home program are to: Make a smooth transition from hospital to home. Take care of...

  • Cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) typically includes an outpatient program. This program is one part, or phase, of your cardiac rehab. The goal is to lower your risk of future heart problems. You will take part in a supervised exercise program. You will receive information and tools to make lifestyle changes, such as...

  • Cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) includes a phase that helps you keep the healthy behaviors and habits that you learned in rehab. This phase, or program, is often referred to as the maintenance part of rehab, because it can help you maintain healthy lifestyle changes. Your goals are to: Learn lifestyle changes to lower...

  • Your pulse is the rate at which your heart beats. Your pulse is usually called your heart rate, which is the number of times your heart beats each minute (bpm). But the rhythm and strength of the heartbeat can also be noted, as well as whether the blood vessel feels hard or soft. Changes in your heart rate or rhythm, a...

  • Covers exercise stress test, also called treadmill test or exercise EKG. Explains why it's done, such as finding cause of angina symptoms and checking exercise tolerance after heart attack. Includes how it's done and how it feels. Includes risks.

  • A cardiac perfusion scan measures the amount of blood in your heart muscle at rest and after it has been stressed. It is often done to find out what may be causing symptoms like angina (such as chest pain or pressure). It may be done after a heart attack to see if areas of the heart are not getting enough blood or to...

  • Discusses problems with how a baby's heart forms. Also looks at problems found when a person is an adult. Includes info on patent ductus arteriosus, aortic valve stenosis, and coarctation of the aorta. Covers treatment with medicine and surgery.

  • Caring for a child with a congenital heart defect can be challenging. The following tips may help you care for your child so that he or she is as healthy and comfortable as possible. These tips may also help you cope with the difficulties that parents often experience. Caring for your child in the hospital...

  • A heart catheterization is a procedure used for both diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart defects. As a test, this procedure allows doctors to see how blood flows through the heart chambers and arteries. As a treatment, the doctor can use special tools to fix a heart defect during this procedure. How is it...

  • Guides you through the decision to have an angiogram. Explains why the test is done and what it can show. Discusses why you might or might not want to have the test. Lists risks and benefits. Includes interactive tool to help you decide.

  • A heart transplant is a procedure in which a surgeon removes a diseased heart and replaces it with a donor heart. During a heart transplant, a mechanical pump circulates blood through the body while the surgeon removes the diseased heart and replaces it with a healthy heart from a recently deceased donor. The surgeon...

  • Sudden heart failure happens when your heart suddenly cannot pump as much blood as your body needs. Certain things, called triggers, can cause sudden heart failure. These triggers make it harder for your heart to pump well. But if you know what the...

  • The following is a classification for heart failure devised by the New York Heart Association (NYHA). It is important to be familiar with this classification, because it may be referred to during the course of your care. Class I People whose...

  • If you are under a doctor's care for heart failure, the following tips may help you deal with fluid buildup that causes difficulty with breathing. Note: If your symptoms are severe enough to require these measures and you have not been diagnosed with heart failure, call your doctor first. Also, call your doctor...

  • If you have heart failure, it is important that you do as much as possible to avoid catching colds, the flu, and other respiratory infections. Although these may be relatively minor illnesses in healthy people, they are more dangerous if you have heart failure, and you are at higher risk for dangerous complications...

  • Some diuretics can cause low levels of potassium. A delicate balance of potassium is needed to properly transmit electrical impulses in the heart. A low potassium level can disrupt the normal electrical impulses in the heart and lead to irregular...

  • Describes heart failure (congestive heart failure). Discusses common causes like hypertension and coronary artery disease. Has info on symptoms. Covers diagnostic tests and treatments. Discusses heart failure classification system and stages of CHF.

  • What is dilated cardiomyopathy? Dilated cardiomyopathy is a serious condition that weakens your heart muscle and causes it to stretch, or dilate. When your heart muscle is weak, it can't pump out blood as well as it should, so more blood stays in your heart after each heartbeat. As more blood fills and stays in...

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (say "hy-per-TROH-fik kar-dee-oh-my-AWP-uh-thee") happens when the heart muscle grows too thick, so the heart gets bigger and its chambers get smaller. Many people have no symptoms and live a normal life with few...

  • Gives info on heart problem that leads to heart failure. Includes symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment with medicines, lifestyle changes, and surgery. Also info on causes like amyloidosis, hemochromatosis, and sarcoidosis. Includes info on tests.

  • Covers causes and symptoms of high blood pressure. Explains systolic and diastolic pressure numbers. Looks at treatment and prevention steps. Includes risks of untreated high blood pressure such as heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.

  • An ambulatory blood pressure monitor is a small device that you wear throughout the day, usually for 24 or 48 hours. The device takes your blood pressure automatically while you do your normal daily activities. The device periodically inflates and...

  • Quitting smoking is probably the most important step you can take to decrease your chance of coronary artery disease (CAD) and a heart attack. Smoking raises your risk of getting CAD and dying early from CAD. Carbon monoxide, nicotine, and other...

  • People with one or more close relatives who have or had early coronary artery disease (CAD) are at an increased risk for CAD. For men, early CAD is being diagnosed before age 55. For women, early CAD is being diagnosed before 65. A...

  • There is a link between depression and coronary artery disease. People with heart disease are more likely to get depression. And if a person has both depression and heart disease, they may not stay as healthy as possible. They are less likely to...

  • What is angina? Angina (say "ANN-juh-nuh" or "ann-JY-nuh") is a symptom of heart disease. Angina happens when there is not enough blood flow to the heart muscle. This is often a result of narrowed blood vessels, usually caused by hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Angina can be dangerous. So it is...

  • There is a strong association between being overweight and the risk for coronary artery disease (CAD). Being overweight increases your chances of having risk factors for CAD. These include high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Losing...

  • As part of a healthy diet, eat at least two servings of fish each week. Oily fish, which contain omega-3 fatty acids, are best. These fish include salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring, and sardines. Fish is an important part of a heart-healthy...

  • Low to moderate alcohol use (no more than 2 drinks a day for men, 1 drink a day for women) might lower the risk of coronary artery disease. If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. But if you do not drink alcohol, do not start drinking to try to lower your risk of heart disease. You have many other options that can...

  • Discusses using nitroglycerin to treat angina, a type of chest pain. Covers how to take the drug. Provides info on side effects and interactions with other drugs. Covers how to store nitroglycerin. Includes info on when to call for emergency help.

  • Childhood cardiac tumors, which may be benign or malignant, form in the heart. Most tumors that form in the heart are benign (not cancer). Benign heart tumors that may appear in children include the following: Rhabdomyoma: A tumor that forms in muscle made up of long fibers. Myxoma: A tumor that may be part of an...

  • You may help cut down on your salt (sodium) intake by using a salt substitute. To make your own salt substitute, mix the following ingredients together and put them in a shaker: 0.5 tsp ( 2.5 g) cayenne pepper 0.5 tsp ( 2.5 g) garlic powder 1 tsp ( 5 g) each: Basil Onion powder Black...

  • What are the most important things you need to know about your medicines? Make sure you know about each of the medicines you take. This includes why you take it, how to take it, what you can expect while you're taking it, and any warnings about the medicine. The information provided here is general. So be sure...

  • Make sure you know about each of the medicines you take. This includes why you take it, how to take it, what you can expect while you're taking it, and any warnings about the medicine. The information provided here is general. So be sure to read the information that came with your medicine. If you have any questions...

  • What are the most important things you need to know about your medicines? Make sure you know about each of the medicines you take. This includes why you take it, how to take it, what you can expect while you're taking it, and any warnings about the medicine. The information provided here is general. So be sure...

  • If your doctor thinks you might have a heart rhythm problem, he or she may ask you to keep a diary of symptoms. This information can help your doctor find out what type of rhythm problem you have. And if you have a rhythm problem, a symptom diary...

  • Vagal maneuvers are used to try to slow an episode of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT). These simple maneuvers stimulate the vagus nerve, sometimes resulting in slowed conduction of electrical impulses through the atrioventricular (AV) node of the...

  • Electrical cardioversion is a procedure in which a brief electric shock is given to the heart to reset the heart rhythm back to its normal, regular pattern ( normal sinus rhythm). The shock is given through patches applied to the outside of the chest wall. In some situations an external defibrillator, which has paddles...

  • Covers procedure to destroy (ablate) tiny areas of heart muscle causing fast heart rate. Includes radiofrequency ablation and cryoablation. Covers use for supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), atrioventricular reciprocating tachycardia (AVRT), Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome, and ventricular tachycardia.

  • What is supraventricular tachycardia? Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) means that from time to time your heart beats very fast for a reason other than exercise, high fever, or stress. For most people who have SVT, the heart still works normally to pump blood through the body. Types of SVT include: Atrioventricular...

  • Shock means that your body and its functions are shutting down. The body goes into shock when it can't get enough blood to the vital organs like your heart or brain. This may be caused by a sudden illness, an injury, or bleeding. Sometimes even a mild injury will lead to shock. Shock is a life-threatening...

  • The American Heart Association recommends taking a class on how to give CPR and then use the chart below as a reference. What to do Recommendations for: Adults and older children who have reached puberty Young children until the age of puberty...

  • Many prescription and nonprescription medicines can make you feel lightheaded or affect your balance. A few examples are: Antibiotics. Blood pressure medicines. Medicines used to treat depression or anxiety. Pain medicines. Medicines used to treat cancer (chemotherapy). If you think a prescription or...

  • Cardiomyopathy is a disease that affects the heart muscle and the way it pumps. There are different types of cardiomyopathies. And these types have different causes. Cardiomyopathy may occur as a result of damage to the heart, such as from a heart attack, or a person may inherit the tendency to develop it. What...

  • Name: ________________________ Target blood pressure: __________ Date Time (a.m.) Blood pressure Time (p.m.) Blood pressure Comments Sample: 8/6 8:15 138/87 6:20 142/92 Stressful day at work

  • Discusses foods to improve heart health. Looks at basic rules of a heart healthy eating, including eating more fruits and vegetables. Lists specific foods that are considered good for your heart.

  • If you need oxygen at home, it is important to learn how to use and take care of your equipment. This information will help you get the most from your oxygen treatment. If you have low blood oxygen levels, breathing extra oxygen can help you feel better and lead to a longer, more active life. You can travel even...

  • Discusses pacemakers to control heart rhythm. Gives information on safety guidelines and tips for exercise and travel.

  • The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for adults 18 and older for high blood pressure. Tests and programs for high blood pressure vary widely in reliability. Results from automated blood pressure testing, such as you might do at a grocery store or pharmacy, may not be accurate. Any...

  • Heart block refers to an abnormality in the way electricity passes through the normal electrical pathways of the heart. The abnormality "blocks" the electrical impulse from continuing through the normal pathways and usually results in a slower heart rate. What causes heart block? Heart block can be caused...

  • What controls the timing of your heartbeat? Your heart's electrical system controls the timing of your heartbeat by regulating your: Heart rate, which is the number of times your heart beats per minute. Heart rhythm, which is the synchronized pumping action of your four heart chambers. Your heart's electrical...

  • Is it safe for you to have sex? If you have an arrhythmia and your doctor says that it's okay for you to do moderate activity, like brisk walking, then it's probably safe for you to have sex. If you have any concerns, ask your doctor. Your doctor can check the health of your heart and help you know if it's safe...

  • Are there driving restrictions for people with heart rhythm problems? If you have an arrhythmia or an ICD that makes it dangerous for you to drive, your doctor might suggest that you stop driving, at least for a short time. If you have an arrhythmia that doesn't cause significant symptoms, you don't have to stop or...

  • Sick sinus syndrome is the name given to a group of arrhythmias that occur because the normal pacemaker of the heart (the sinus node) does not work properly. Sick sinus syndrome is also called sinus node dysfunction. For more information on other types of sinus node problems, see Types of Bradycardia. What...

  • Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome is a heart rhythm problem that causes a very fast heart rate. WPW is one type of supraventricular tachycardia called atrioventricular reciprocating tachycardia (AVRT). With WPW, an extra electrical pathway links the upper chambers (atria) and lower chambers (ventricles) of the...

  • Heart rhythm problems, called arrhythmias, can cause a few types of symptoms. These symptoms happen because the heart isn't beating regularly or may not be pumping blood as well as normal. Some of these symptoms include palpitations, lightheadedness, fainting, and shortness of breath. Palpitations Having palpitations...

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a genetic disease in which the heart muscle grows abnormally, making the heart muscle thicken. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is described as either obstructive or nonobstructive. Nonobstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The heart muscle is abnormally thick but not to...

  • Some people who have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are at high risk for sudden death. It can occur at any age, but it is most shocking when it happens to young adults or athletes. While the media often highlight these tragic deaths, sudden death is...

  • When can I have sex again? Sex is part of a healthy life and part of your quality of life. It is safe for most people after they have had a heart attack. After a heart attack, you can resume sexual activity when you are healthy and feel ready for it. You could be ready if you can do mild or moderate activity...

  • Some risk factors—things that increase your risk—for coronary artery disease (CAD), such as your gender, age, and family history, cannot be changed. Other risk factors for CAD are related to lifestyle and often can be changed. Your chance of developing coronary artery disease increases with the number of risk factors...

  • If you have an irregular heartbeat ( arrhythmia), ask your doctor what type and level of exercise is safe for you. Regular activity can help keep your heart and body healthy. The type and amount of exercise that is allowable will vary depending on the cause of your abnormal heart rhythm and whether you have other...

  • Discusses pacemakers used to treat bradycardia. Discusses various types of pacemakers. Covers how they work and how well they work, risks, and possible side effects.

  • Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) is a nuclear medicine imaging test. It is a type of positron emission tomography, also called a PET scan. Doctors use SPECT to: Diagnose a person who has symptoms of heart disease. Assess your risk of heart attack. Find damaged heart tissue after a heart attack...

  • Drug-eluting stents prevent a coronary artery from narrowing again after angioplasty. They are coated with medicine that prevents scar tissue from growing into the artery. Stents are small, expandable tubes that are inserted during angioplasty into a narrowed or blocked section of the coronary artery to open the...

  • Covers importance of exercising regularly when you have coronary artery disease. Guides you through steps of starting a complete exercise program that includes aerobic exercise, strength training, and stretching. Explains how to set goals you can reach.

  • Covers risk of heart disease and stroke in women. Lists things that increase risk. Lists prevention steps, such as diet, exercise, not smoking, managing cholesterol and blood pressure, and making decisions on birth control and hormone therapy.

  • If you want to learn about supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), go to the topic Supraventricular Tachycardia. What is ventricular tachycardia? Ventricular tachycardia is a type of fast heart rhythm that starts in the lower part of the heart (ventricles). The heart might beat more than 100 beats per minute...

  • Discusses taking aspirin to prevent a first and second heart attack for people who have coronary artery disease. Covers aspirin therapy to help lower risk of a stroke. Discusses if aspirin therapy is for you. Looks at things to avoid while taking aspirin.

  • Discusses metabolic syndrome, a group of health problems that increase risk for diabetes and heart disease (coronary artery disease). Covers risk factors like obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Covers diet and exercise to improve health.

  • Briefly discusses lipid panel, a blood test that measures cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels. Covers why a lipid panel might be ordered. Also covers how to prepare for test.

  • A ventriculogram is a test that shows images of your heart. The images show how well your heart is pumping. The pictures let your doctor check the health of the lower chambers of your heart, called ventricles. This test can be done as a noninvasive test or as part of an invasive procedure. Noninvasive...

  • Discusses surgical treatment to control irregular heartbeat and restore normal rhythm of heart. Looks at what to expect after surgery such as taking medicine such as Coumadin. Covers risks.

  • Most people with atrial fibrillation don't have to change their daily activities. You can live well and safely with atrial fibrillation. There are some precautions you can take to prevent problems from atrial fibrillation. For example, tell your doctor about any activities that trigger an episode of atrial...

  • Guides you through the decision to take an anticoagulant to prevent stroke. Explains atrial fibrillation and risk of stroke. Lists benefits and risks of anticoagulants. Includes interactive tool to help you decide.

  • Covers causes of heart attack (myocardial infarction) and unstable angina. Discusses symptoms like chest pain or pressure. Explains MI and angina differences. Offers prevention tips. Covers diagnostic tests and treatment with medicines and surgery.

  • There are many types of congenital heart defects. If the defect lowers the amount of oxygen in the body, it is called cyanotic. If the defect doesn't affect oxygen in the body, it is called acyanotic. What are cyanotic heart defects? Cyanotic heart...

  • Adults with congenital heart defects can live long, full, and active lives. There are many things you can do to stay healthy and live well. These include having a heart-healthy lifestyle, preventing infections, and getting regular checkups. You...

  • Heart failure is most often a lifelong illness that will require frequent changes in your medicine schedule and regular follow-up with your doctor. Over the years, many things will affect the course of your disease, including other illnesses that you develop, your age, your diet, your ability to tolerate and comply...

  • What is an intra-aortic balloon pump? An intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) is a mechanical device that helps the heart pump blood. This device is inserted into the aorta, the body's largest artery. It is a long, thin tube called a catheter with a balloon on the end of it. If you are hospitalized, your doctor may insert...

  • A ventricular assist device (VAD), also known as a heart pump, is a mechanical device that helps pump blood from the heart to the rest of your body. A VAD can be implanted in the chest or worn outside the body. If it is implanted, surgery is done to place it in the chest area. The pump part of the VAD is placed in a...

  • For the body to function properly, the heart needs to pump blood at a sufficient rate to maintain an adequate and continuous supply of oxygen and other nutrients to the brain and other vital organs. Cardiac output is the term that describes the amount of blood your heart pumps each minute. Doctors think about cardiac...

  • If you have heart failure, symptoms start to happen when your heart cannot pump enough blood to the rest of your body. Shortness of breath While shortness of breath is the most common symptom of heart failure, it may be difficult or impossible to distinguish it from shortness of breath caused by other health...

  • While there are certain symptoms that people with heart failure experience more commonly, there are many other symptoms that heart failure can cause. These symptoms are typically less common because they often result from more severe heart failure, when the body can no longer compensate properly for the failing heart...

  • Heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) happens when the left side of your heart doesn't pump blood out to the body as well as normal. It's sometimes called systolic heart failure. This is because your left ventricle doesn't squeeze forcefully enough during systole, which is the phase of your heartbeat...

  • Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) occurs when the lower left chamber (left ventricle) is not able to fill properly with blood during the diastolic (filling) phase. The amount of blood pumped out to the body is less than normal. It is also called diastolic heart failure. What does preserved...

  • High-output heart failure happens when the body's need for blood is unusually high, so heart failure symptoms happen even though the heart is working well. This type of heart failure happens to a very small number of people with heart failure. What happens to the heart? High-output heart failure occurs when the...

  • Right-sided heart failure means that the right side of the heart is not pumping blood to the lungs as well as normal. It is also called cor pulmonale or pulmonary heart disease. What happens to the heart? Most people develop heart failure because of a problem with the left ventricle. But reduced function of the right...

  • Even if you are treating your heart failure successfully, you may develop a complication that can be serious and life-threatening. It is important to identify complications of heart failure as soon as possible, because some can be extremely serious conditions. You can discuss your complications with your doctor and...

  • The heart is at the center of your circulatory system, which is a network of blood vessels that delivers blood to every part of your body. Blood carries oxygen and other important nutrients that all body organs need to stay healthy and to work properly. Your heart is a muscle, and its job is to pump blood throughout...

  • The coronary arteries deliver blood to the heart muscle, providing a continuous supply of oxygen and nutrients needed for it to stay healthy and function normally. Supply and demand The coronary arteries regulate the supply of blood to your heart muscle depending on how much oxygen your heart needs at the time, as...

  • Heart failure means that your heart muscle does not pump as much blood as your body needs. Failure doesn't mean that your heart has stopped. It means that your heart is not pumping as well as it should. There is more than one type of heart failure, so you might hear your doctor call it different names. The types are...

  • Why is diet important for heart failure? Diet is critical in the treatment of heart failure. Limiting sodium is typically recommended to limit fluid build-up. But some other nutrients or substances also play a role as well. Heart failure can become more severe if diet and medicine recommendations for heart failure are...

  • People who have heart failure can be active and enjoy life. Daily activities. If you have heart failure, you may find that your symptoms make it difficult to do things like cook, clean, bathe, or shop. You can deal with these limitations in various ways. For example, you can rearrange your kitchen to make...

  • Many hospitals and insurers have developed disease management (DM) programs to educate people who have heart failure about their disease. Disease management includes a broad range of health services, such as home health care, visiting nurses, and rehabilitation. The goal of DM programs is to offer a combination of...

  • Talk with doctors, therapists, and counselors about how to help a friend or relative living with heart failure. Most people don't hesitate when they are called upon to help a loved one who is ill. But being a full-time caregiver may be an unfamiliar role for you. It is important to consider the long-term...

  • One of the most frightening aspects about having heart failure is that it can lead to premature death. The increased death rate among people with heart failure is in part caused by the tendency of those with heart failure to develop abnormal heart rhythms. Some people with heart failure die suddenly from abnormal rapid...

  • Cardiac cachexia is unintentional severe weight loss caused by heart disease. The weight loss might be life-threatening. It can happen to people who have severe heart failure. Even with a very good appetite and high calorie intake, some people lose muscle mass. Cardiac cachexia can require supplemental nutrition...

  • The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have devised a classification system for heart failure. It categorizes heart failure based on how the disease progresses in most people. Under this system, heart failure is...

  • Omega-3 fatty acids are found in marine or plant sources, such as fish oil and flaxseed oil. A few studies suggest that adding omega-3 fatty acids to medicine (such as lithium) can help reduce the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder in some people. Omega-3 fatty acids don't seem to have an effect on the manic...

  • After you start a cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) program, you will work with many health professionals. Each will have a specific role in your rehab. While you are in rehab, make sure to stay in touch with your doctor or other health professionals who can keep track of your progress and health. You will probably keep...

  • Recovering from a heart problem means not only getting back your physical strength but also getting back your emotional and mental well-being. Having a positive outlook during your recovery and rehabilitation is necessary to help you recover physically, emotionally, and mentally. Remember that you are going to start...

  • If you are in a cardiac rehab program, you are probably taking medicines for your heart and for other health reasons. Some prescribed medicines can change your heart rate, blood pressure, and overall ability to exercise. It's important for your rehab team to know what medicines you take. Give your rehab team a list of...

  • There are several ways to measure your body's responses to exercise and other lifestyle changes. You may want to keep track of the following measurements during your exercise sessions at cardiac rehab and at home. Target heart rate Your target heart rate can guide you to how hard you need to exercise so you can get...

  • Guides you through the decision to take drugs for migraines. Covers treatment with antidepressants, anticonvulsants, beta-blockers, and calcium channel blockers. Lists side effects. Includes interactive tool to help you make your decision.

  • What is mitral valve stenosis? Mitral valve stenosis is a heart problem in which the mitral valve doesn't open as wide as it should. The valve becomes stiff or scarred, or the valve flaps become partially joined together. See a picture of mitral valve stenosis. Mitral valve stenosis can lead to heart failure; a...

  • If you have a normal heart, you have a low risk for endocarditis. But if you have a problem with your heart that affects normal blood flow through the heart, it is more likely that bacteria or fungi will attach to heart tissue. This puts you at a higher risk for endocarditis. If you have certain heart conditions...

  • The American Heart Association (AHA) publishes dietary and lifestyle recommendations for general heart health. These recommendations are for healthy adults and children older than age 2 as well as people who already have health problems such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or heart failure...

  • What is ischemia? Ischemia is the medical term for what happens when your heart muscle doesn't get enough oxygen. Ischemia usually happens because of a shortage of blood and oxygen to the heart muscle. It is usually caused by a narrowing or blockage of one or more of the coronary arteries (which supply blood to the...

  • What is atherosclerosis? Atherosclerosis, sometimes called "hardening of the arteries," occurs when fat (cholesterol) and calcium build up inside the lining of the artery wall, forming a substance called plaque. Over time, the fat and calcium buildup narrows the artery and blocks blood flow through it...

  • What health professionals are involved in taking care of people who have coronary artery disease? After a diagnosis of coronary artery disease (CAD), you should visit your primary care physician every few months. Your doctor can help track your condition and make sure that your treatment is going as planned. If you...

  • How can I help a loved one who has coronary artery disease? If you have a family member or other loved one who has coronary artery disease (CAD) or has just returned home from the hospital due to a complication of CAD, you may want to know what you can do to help. Your loved one may be able to do fewer normal...

  • Why is it important to manage stress? Stress is the way we all react to change. It includes our mental, emotional, and physical responses to the pressures of everyday life. Because change is a natural and normal part of life, everyone has some stress. But stress can be bad for your heart. If you have heart...

  • You don't have to abandon all your favorite recipes to eat healthier. Several small changes to your current recipes can often greatly lower the saturated fat and sodium in your diet. These small changes can make a big difference in the amount of fat and calories in your diet. But they won't make much difference in how...

  • Intermittent claudication is a symptom of peripheral arterial disease. Intermittent claudication is a tight, aching, or squeezing pain in the calf, foot, thigh, or buttock that occurs during exercise, such as walking up a steep hill or a flight of stairs. This pain usually occurs after the same amount of exercise and is...

  • Guides you through the decision to have surgery for peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Covers what PAD is and how it is treated. Covers risks. Lists reasons for and against having surgery. Includes interactive tool to help you decide.

  • Leriche's syndrome is the term used for a group of symptoms that are caused by a certain type of peripheral arterial disease of the legs. In Leriche's syndrome, blood flow in the aorta is blocked in the stomach area. This blocks blood flow to the legs. In men, blood flow to the penis is also blocked. The following...

  • Pulse and blood pressure measurements taken in different areas of the body help diagnose peripheral arterial disease. Pulse In the legs, doctors will commonly feel for pulses in the femoral (groin), popliteal (back of the knee), posterior tibial (ankle), and dorsalis pedis (foot) areas. Other pulses often checked...

  • Sex is part of a healthy life and is part of your quality of life. Most people with heart failure can still have an active sex life. If you have mild heart failure, your doctor will likely say that sex is safe for your heart. If you have more severe heart failure, your doctor will likely check your health to make sure...

  • Joan figured she would need months to recover physically from the heart attack 2 years ago that led to her heart failure. She didn't realize she would need just as much time to recover emotionally. "I was only 52 when I had the heart attack," she says. "Heart disease runs in my family, but I thought I'd been taking...

  • Rheumatic fever is a bacterial infection that can cause problems with the heart's aortic and mitral valves. Rheumatic fever is caused by certain strains of streptococcal bacteria. A strep throat infection that isn't properly treated can trigger rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever can damage heart muscle and heart valves...

  • Guides you through decision about choosing new valve to replace your heart valve if you have aortic valve problems or mitral valve problems. Compares benefits and risks of mechanical valves versus tissue valves. Includes interactive tool to help you make your decision.

  • The major decision in treating aortic valve regurgitation is whether to have aortic valve replacement surgery and, if so, when to do it. Your doctor will check the severity of your condition. Your doctor will also check your overall health to see if surgery is too risky for you. Then you and your doctor will weigh...

  • Covers angina and symptoms that happen when the heart does not get enough blood. Covers unstable angina and heart attack. Discusses treatment with medicines, angioplasty, or bypass surgery. Offers prevention tips.

  • Guides people who have not had a heart attack or a stroke through decision to take daily aspirin. Discusses benefits and risks. Looks at who can take daily aspirin. Includes interactive tool to help you decide.

  • Guides through decision to get a pacemaker for heart failure. Answers common questions about pacemakers, such as how they work and are placed. Covers benefits and risks. Includes an interactive tool to help you make your decision.

  • Guides you through decision to get an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). Gives information about ICDs and asks questions to help you learn if an ICD is right for you. Covers benefits and risks. Includes an interactive tool to help you decide.

  • What is heart valve disease? Heart valve disease is the term used for a number of conditions that affect the four valves of the heart. A heart valve disease happens when any of the heart's valves either cannot open well enough to let blood flow through (stenosis) or cannot close well enough to prevent backflow...

  • What is mitral valve prolapse? Your mitral valve controls blood flow on the left side of your heart. The valve opens and closes with each heartbeat. It works like a one-way gate, letting blood flow from your upper heart chamber to your lower chamber. When you have mitral valve prolapse (MVP), the valve closes after...

  • Myxomas are tumors of connective tissue. They can occur almost anywhere in the body, including the heart. Treatment for a myxoma in the heart depends on many things. These include where the tumor is and if it is blocking blood flow. If the tumor is in the left atrium, surgery might be done to remove it. This can help...

  • If you have mitral valve stenosis and you need surgery to treat it, you have a choice of repairing the valve or replacing it. Many things play a role in this decision. These things include whether you have symptoms or other health problems (or both), the severity of your mitral valve stenosis, the shape of the mitral...

  • To treat mitral valve regurgitation surgically, the options are to repair or replace the mitral valve. Repair of the heart valve may be recommended if it is likely that the valve can be repaired and that the repair will last a long time. Valve...

  • Use a form to record the sodium content of the foods you eat or drink each day. This record will help you see whether you are getting the prescribed daily amount of sodium in your diet. Make a chart with 3 columns and as many rows you need for meals...

  • Your doctor may talk with you about your risk for heart and blood flow problems, including heart attack and stroke. You and your doctor can use your risk to decide whether you need to lower it and what treatment is best for you. What might you be at risk for? Your doctor is checking your risk of having a...

  • Cholesterol (or lipid) problems are common in diabetes. These problems are usually related to obesity and insulin resistance. They can also be related to lack of insulin in your body. Triglyceride blood levels are usually elevated. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) blood level is usually low...

  • Coronary calcium scans use a special X-ray test called computed tomography (CT) to check for the buildup of calcium in plaque on the walls of the arteries of the heart ( coronary arteries). This test is used to check for heart disease in an early stage and to determine how severe it is. Coronary calcium scans are also...

  • Looks at how you can control how much salt (sodium) you eat when you eat out. Explains what salt does to your body. Lists foods to avoid and foods that are heart-healthy. Offers tips for choosing low-sodium foods at restaurants.

  • A child may have a higher chance of having high cholesterol if he or she: Is overweight. Does not exercise much. Does not eat healthy foods. Has a family history of high cholesterol. Your child's doctor may suggest a cholesterol test based on your...

  • Explains why you should monitor your blood pressure at home and how it helps you be more in control of your own health care. Includes steps on how to take your blood pressure at home. Covers systolic and diastolic pressure measurements.

  • The goal in treating cholesterol is to lower your chance of having a heart attack or a stroke. The goal is not to lower your cholesterol numbers alone. The following guidelines are from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart...

  • A familial lipid disorder is a condition that runs in families. It causes very high levels of cholesterol. This condition can cause a person to get coronary artery disease (CAD) while still young. Because familial lipid disorders are rare, your doctor may only suspect one if you have: Very high cholesterol...

  • Millions of people struggle to lose weight and improve their diets. Finding a diet that works for you and then staying with it can be a huge challenge. Registered dietitians are experts in diet and nutrition, particularly for promoting general health and treating conditions such as high cholesterol. A dietitian can...

  • A hypertensive emergency is very high blood pressure that damages the body. It can cause damage to the brain, heart, eyes, or kidneys. A hypertensive emergency needs immediate care. Symptoms include numbness, blurry vision, chest pain, severe headache, and confusion. This problem is also called malignant...

  • Covers importance of taking the right dose of the right high blood pressure medicines at the right time. Explains how medicines control high blood pressure. Includes working with your doctor to make a plan for taking your medicines.

  • Provides tips on adding DASH diet to stop high blood pressure. Includes sample DASH menu. Explains why adding more fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy products helps lower high blood pressure. Includes working with experts to help plan menus.

  • DASH is an eating plan that can help lower your blood pressure. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Hypertension is high blood pressure. For more information on the DASH diet, see High Blood Pressure: Using the DASH Diet. Here is a sample menu for the DASH diet. It is based on a 2,000-calorie diet...

  • Resistance training with weights, elastic bands, or your own body weight may help you regain the physical strength and confidence to do the daily tasks you performed before your heart problem or surgery. Resistance training can help you get the most benefit from your cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) program. Do...

  • What are triglycerides? Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood. Your body uses them for energy. You need some triglycerides for good health. But high triglycerides might raise your risk of heart disease and may be a sign of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the combination of high blood...

  • Covers walking as one of the easiest ways to increase your physical activity and improve your health. Explains what you need to know before starting a walking program. Includes how to stay motivated.

  • If you have heart failure, you need to be extra careful with medicines. Some can make your heart failure worse. Other medicines may not mix well with your heart failure drugs. This Actionset will help you learn which medicines you may need to avoid and what questions to ask your doctor or pharmacist. Each time you...

  • Discusses heart murmur, an extra sound the blood makes as it flows through the heart. Covers harmless (innocent) murmurs and abnormal murmurs. Includes info on heart valve damage. Discusses tests by a cardiologist including electrocardiogram (ECG).

  • Guides you through the decision to take or not take medicine to treat high blood pressure. Explains what high blood pressure is and risks of not lowering it. Covers treatment choices and lifestyle changes.

  • Guides you through the decision to have angioplasty when you have stable angina. Lists benefits and risks of angioplasty and medical therapy. Explains why lifestyle changes are still important. Includes interactive tool to help you with your decision.

  • Guides you through the decision to have catheter ablation for the heart rhythm problem atrial fibrillation. Lists benefits and risks of catheter ablation and medical therapy. Includes interactive tool to help you make your decision.

  • An electrophysiology study, or EP study, is a test to see if there is a problem with your heartbeat (heart rhythm) and to find out how to fix it. In this test, the doctor inserts one or more flexible tubes, called catheters, into a vein, typically in the groin or neck. Then he or she threads these catheters into the...

  • "I'm a believer!" That's the proclamation from Izzy, a 60-year-old clerk from Petaluma, Calif. She's talking about a way of eating that helped her lose weight and brought her blood pressure way down. "If there were a commercial for the DASH diet,...

  • The neighbors can set their clocks by Arturo and his wife, Rosa. Every morning at 6:30 a.m. and every evening at 6:30 p.m., they walk out their front door for their 30-minute walk. "It's kind of a neighborhood joke," Arturo, 58, says. "People literally look at their watch and laugh when we go by." But the walks...

  • When Tyrell's doctor told him he had high blood pressure, he was shocked. "I thought, 'Hey, I'm a physical fitness trainer. I'm in great shape. How could I have high blood pressure?'" He knew that both of his parents have high blood pressure. And one of his uncles recently had a stroke. But Tyrell had always been kind...

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