There are some tips to prepare before your appointment: writing down symptoms you may be experiencing and your personal key information; family history of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure or diabetes; and making a list of medications and vitamins. Dr. Paula Montana de la Cadena, Cardiovascular Specialist with Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, says a specialist wants to know if there's any presence of chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, dizziness and leg swelling. Taking someone with you; being prepared to discuss diet, lifestyle and exercise habits; and writing down questions are also tips.
Dr. Paula Montana de la Cadena, Cardiovascular Specialist with Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, says any patient above 20 years of age should have a regular checkup of their blood pressure, at least once a year if it is normal, and it should be more often if it is above 140/90. She also explains a 30-year patient should not have a blood pressure of 135/85; an ideal blood pressure for them should be around the 120/80.
Dr. Paula Montana de la Cadena, Cardiovascular Specialist with Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, explains Congestive Heart Failure is a clinical diagnosis based on symptoms and there are two types: systolic heart failure, when the heart is weak; and the second one is diastolic heart failure, which is when the heart contracts well, but it gets stiffer, so it doesn't relax as well as it should. Some of the symptoms are shortness of breath, fatigue, swollen legs and rapid heartbeat.
Lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, controlling diabetes and treating heart rhythm disorders are common heart disease medications. "I cannot emphasize enough lifestyle modification will be key, but if we do not get to the point that we want just with lifestyle changes, then that is when we need to start some medication," says Dr. Paula Montana de la Cadena, Cardiovascular Specialist with Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute. She explains the first-line of medication for hypertension should be diuretics, but if the patient is diabetic, there are other medications that would be a better choice for that patient, because doctors choose those medications based on history and guidelines.
Dr. Paula Montana de la Cadena, Cardiovascular Specialist with Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, explains there are a lot of reasons why the chest can hurt, but not all of them are coming from the heart. "The important thing with chest pain is where it goes to. So, if it stays in the chest, goes to the neck, goes to the arm or both arms, and it is associated with shortness of breath, dizziness and sweatiness, they are really concerning when it comes to an acute chest pain that is constant," she says.