How Important Are Heart Valves?

how heart valves workMr. Blum, a 78-year-old man with a history of heart disease couldn’t walk very far without feeling short of breath. He scheduled an appointment with his cardiologist. His cardiologist checked his heart function, in particular his aortic valve, which had been replaced before. The cardiologist thought Mr. Blum might be having symptoms indicating his heart may not be functioning properly.

The heart is important because it pumps blood around your body, delivering oxygen and nutrients to your cells and removing waste products. The heart has four chambers: two upper chambers called the right and left atria (singular: atrium) and two lower chambers called the right and left ventricles. There are valves between the atria and ventricles that make sure blood flows in one direction through your heart. Read more

Is an Echocardiogram Right For Me?

echocardiogramAn echocardiogram (echo or ECG) is “the most cost-effective, safe and portable tool for cardiac diagnosis” according to Sharon Mulvagh’s recent article in Cardiovascular Business. Cardiologists also use echos to check heart function.

Echo uses sound waves to make pictures of your beating heart—the atria, ventricles, valves, aorta, arteries, and veins attached to your heart. From the echo, your cardiologist can see the size and shape of your heart, the thickness and movement of your heart muscle, how well the chambers and valves in your heart are working, and the force with which your heart contracts. This information allows your cardiologist to determine if your heart and valves are working correctly and shows the health of your heart muscle and blood vessels in and around the heart. Your cardiologist can calculate the ejection fraction and identify any problems with your heart, valves, or blood vessels. This is why echos are so useful.

The most useful diagnoses for echo are listed below. Familiarize yourself with these conditions most useful for echo so you can discuss with your cardiologist. Read more

Tips for Successful Doctor Visits after a Heart Disease Diagnosis

Tips for Successful Doctor Visits after a Heart Disease DiagnosisHave you ever left a doctor’s appointment and remembered that you forgot to ask a crucial question? It is frustrating, but you are not alone—many of us have done that! Here are tips to help you get the most out of your next doctor’s appointment after a heart disease diagnosis.

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