10 frequently asked questions to the cardiologist

In the cardiologist’s office, it is common for patients to have doubts about their disease and the best way to approach it. Clearing up questions that affect your heart health is essential to prevent complications. These are some of the most frequently asked questions in cardiology consultations:

– I’ve had a heart attack. Can I play sports?

There is no contraindication to physical exercise after a heart attack . Moreover, it is usually indicated. It all depends on the size of the infarct, the left ventricular function (pumping strength of the heart) and whether there is residual ischemia (that is, if there are blocked coronary arteries that have not been treated). If the heart after the infarction has a normal pumping force and all the coronary arteries are ‘open’, there is no contraindication for physical exercise. In fact, maintaining an active lifestyle is key to keeping cardiovascular risk factors at bay .

– How does alcohol abuse affect cardiovascular health?

Alcohol is associated with the development of ventricular dysfunction (dilated cardiomyopathy, with decreased contractile power of the heart) and the genesis of all kinds of arrhythmias. There is increasing evidence of the association between alcohol consumption and the development of atrial fibrillation . One of the latest studies that delves into this relationship is  ‘Lower risk of stroke after alcohol abstinence in patients with incident atrial fibrillation: a nationwide population-based cohort study’ , published in the European Heart Journal. It analyzes the relationship between different patterns of alcohol consumption after the diagnosis of the arrhythmia and its relationship with the incidence of ischemic stroke.

– What diet should I follow if I am a cardiovascular patient?

Healthy eating is an effective protection tool against cardiovascular disease. And that diet consists of following the Mediterranean diet , based on the consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, avoiding as much as possible both free sugars and trans fats and limiting the intake of saturated fats in favor of unsaturated fats, present in fish, avocados, nuts and olive oil. This diet for coronary heart disease can serve as a guide.

– Can stress affect cardiovascular health?

Stress appears as a risk factor in the European Guide for Cardiovascular Prevention because suffering from it means subjecting the body to tensions that affect cardiac health. As explained in this article , there are mechanisms that produce a series of characteristic chemical changes due to the activation of the sympathetic nervous system that produce an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, as well as coronary vasoconstriction. Hence, trying to control stress is beneficial for cardiovascular health.

– What should I do if I have symptoms of having a heart attack?

Early attention is vital in the event of a heart attack, as it increases the chances of survival. In addition, rapid intervention can reduce sequelae and promote recovery. That is why the symptoms of a heart attack must be taken into account and call 112 as soon as the patient suspectswho may be suffering from it. Among the most common symptoms, cardiologists cite weight-like pain in the sternum area that is not modified by body movements or breathing and lasts more than 20 minutes; the pain may spread to the jaw, neck and back, the left arm and, in some cases, the right arm; cold sweats and dizziness. Other less frequent symptoms may also appear, such as pain in the upper abdomen, difficulty breathing, an urge to vomit or loss of consciousness.

– How to differentiate between tachycardia and atrial fibrillation?

Tachycardia occurs when the heart beats faster than normal , as opposed to bradycardia, when its rhythm is too slow. As for atrial fibrillation, it is a type of arrhythmia that sometimes causes a series of very fast ventricular beats, which would also be a tachycardia. As explained in this article , we must pay special attention to atrial fibrillation because if we manage to control it we will be able to avoid the main risks of this pathology, among which are the appearance of embolisms or the worsening of pathologies related to this disease, such as cardiac insufficiency. heart or valve disease.

– What are the blood pressure values ​​considered normal?

For a healthy adult, the figures should not exceed 135/85 mmHg, although the optimal pressure is 120/75 mmHg while the ideal is below 110/70 mmHg. However, in patients who already have complications, such as having had a heart attack, kidney failure, or brain disorders, blood pressure should not exceed 120/75 mmHg. Finally, in those over 75 years of age, the pressure that is considered ideal would be around 140/80 mmHg.

– What is cardiac rehabilitation?

It is a global preventive program carried out by a multidisciplinary team so that the person who has had a cardiovascular event can return to a completely normal life and, if possible, not have any cardiovascular event again. The program includes exercise training, risk factor modification, psychosocial assessment, and outcome evaluation. Although until recently these programs were developed predominantly in cardiac rehabilitation units in hospitals and some health centers, technology now allows them to be carried out at home thanks to the RC Open Classroom program .

 

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