Raising Awareness of AFib

A heart arrhythmia involves rapid, slow or irregular beating of the heart. Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is one common type of heart arrhythmia. AFib is a serious heart and vascular condition that requires careful medical management. Yet, many people who have AFib do not realize it, because they lack symptoms. Furthermore, many people who have been diagnosed are not receiving the essential treatment they need to prevent complications. At The Heart and Vascular Institute at JFK Medical Center, we’re working to change that by providing innovative medical solutions and patient-centered care.

What Is AFib

Your heartbeat is controlled by the electrical system of the heart. Each electrical signal originates in the upper chambers (atria) and travels down to the lower chambers (ventricles). If you have atrial fibrillation, the electrical signals are irregular and too rapid, causing the atria to quiver ineffectively. Then, the ventricles pump irregularly and sometimes rapidly.

Why It Matters

When the heart cannot pump out all of the blood inside the chambers, some of it may be left inside the organ. These pools of blood can form blood clots. If a blood clot breaks away and travels in the bloodstream, it may reach the blood vessels leading to the brain. There, the clot may obstruct blood flow and deprive an area of the brain of much-needed blood. This causes a stroke, which can be deadly or lead to life-long disability.

What You Can Do

If you already have atrial fibrillation, you can reduce your risk of stroke by working with your doctor to learn how to manage your condition effectively. You may be asked to take medications, some of which may normalize your heart rate. Other medicines are available to prevent blood clot formation. Some people with atrial fibrillation may undergo medical procedures, such as ablation or cardioversion. If you don’t have atrial fibrillation, you can reduce your risk of developing it by avoiding tobacco, consuming alcohol and caffeine in moderation, and generally leading a heart-healthy lifestyle.

If you have atrial fibrillation or any other cardiovascular condition, the Heart and Vascular Institute at JFK Medical Center in Atlantis can help. We are committed to helping all of our patients live a heart healthy life. For more information or to request a physician referral, call us 24/7 at 561-548-4JFK (4535) or visit us online at www.JFKMC.com.


Guidelines for Living with a Congenital Heart Defect

A congenital defect is one that is present at birth. In some cases, a congenital heart defect will not cause symptoms and may not require treatment, while other heart defects require lifelong management. If you were diagnosed with a heart defect at birth, you can find the specialized care you need from the heart and vascular experts at JFK Medical Center.

Understanding the Risk of Complications

Many people lead healthy, productive lives despite their heart defects. However, it’s still important to understand your condition and the risk of complications. Some people with heart defects may develop a heart arrhythmia, which is an abnormal heart rate or rhythm. Infective endocarditis is a heart infection that may lead to secondary complications, including heart valve damage, heart failure and blood clots. Liver disease and pulmonary hypertension are other possibilities.

Leading a Healthy Lifestyle

Your cardiologist may offer lifestyle recommendations that are suited to your specific condition and general health. Although regular exercise is important, your doctor might ask that you avoid certain physical activities and follow up with him or her before changing your workout routine. It’s strongly recommended that people with congenital heart defects enjoy a heart-healthy diet. Your doctor may also counsel you about alcohol consumption, smoking and the use of certain drugs, such as performance enhancers.

Making Follow-Up Appointments

A congenital heart defect may require medical monitoring throughout a person’s lifetime. Consider asking your doctor if and when you should make appointments for diagnostic imaging or other tests. Some common exams include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, echocardiograms, electrocardiograms and angiograms.

Practicing Good Medication Management

Some people with congenital heart defects must take medications to manage their conditions and reduce the risk of complications. Keep an updated list of medications in your wallet or handbag. Set reminders on your phone or computer to help you take your medications on time. Inform your doctor before you have any dentistry work or surgeries done, as you may be asked to take antibiotics beforehand to prevent infections.

For the last 30 years, The Heart and Vascular Institute at JFK Medical Center has been serving the Atlantis community, earning a national reputation for their commitment to Cardiovascular excellence. For more information or to request a physician referral, call us 24/7 at 561-548-4JFK (4535) or visit us online at www.JFKMC.com.


Preventing Common Foot and Ankle Injuries this Summer

Spending time outdoors is a healthy way to enjoy the warm summer weather in Florida. Taking part in summertime activities can improve your heart and vascular health, but falls, trips, and other accidents can pose a threat to the bones and joints of your feet and ankles. There are several simple tips you can follow to prevent the most common foot and ankle injuries this summer, regardless of the activities you plan to enjoy.

Wear Appropriate Footwear
One of the best ways to prevent foot and ankle injuries is to choose footwear appropriate to your planned activities. Never wear flip-flops or sandals to play sports or work out, and opt for closed-toed water shoes when exploring the beach. Even if you’re spending time in your backyard or around the pool, wear flip-flops or other footwear to reduce your risk of scrapes, cuts, and other potential injuries. Make sure your footwear fits correctly and is in good condition, and replace shoes if they become damaged or worn, rather than trying to make them last.

Warm Up Before Activities
During the summer, it’s common to take part in spontaneous activities during picnics or other get-togethers. However, the body needs time to adjust to drastically different activity levels, especially if you are not a regular athlete. Following a short regiment of dynamic stretchesbefore playing sports or working out, such as performing hops or lunges, can also reduce your risk of a foot or ankle injury by promoting flexibility and strength while preparing the body for motion.

At The Orthopedic Institute at JFK Medical Center, we take a leading-edge, comprehensive approach to the evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries in Atlantis, FL. For more information about our Orthopedic Institute or to request a physician referral, call us 24/7 at (561) 548-4JFK (4535) or visit www.JFKMC.com.


George Michael's Death Caused by Heart Condition

An investigation into the death of George Michael revealed the 53-year-old English pop sensation died as a result of heart disease and fatty liver disease, according to an Associated Press report. Specifically, the report said the singer died of “dilated cardiomyopathy with myocarditis and fatty liver."

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a serious, often life-threatening heart condition. Read on to learn about this type of heart disease and the other conditions listed in the report.

What is dilated cardiomyopathy?
Cardiomyopathy is a type of heart disease caused by damage to the heart muscle that prevents it from correctly pumping blood. When a damaged heart stretches to try to make up for its lack of ability to pump blood, it becomes floppy and enlarged. This is called dilated cardiomyopathy.

The initial cause of damage to a heart with dilated cardiomyopathy is often unknown. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), besides inheriting the condition – which is the case for up to one-third of people with the condition – there are several potential causes of dilated cardiomyopathy:

  • Coronary heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid disease, viral hepatitis and HIV
  • Infections, especially viral infections that inflame the heart muscle
  • Alcohol, especially if you also have a poor diet
  • Complications during the last month of pregnancy or within five months of birth
  • Certain toxins such as cobalt
  • Certain drugs (such as cocaine and amphetamines) and two medicines used to treat cancer (doxorubicin and daunorubicin)

What is myocarditis?
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart’s muscular wall, the myocardium. It’s a rare condition that often goes undiagnosed. The cause of a person’s myocarditis – if it can be identified – will fall into one of these three categories:

  • infectious (bacterial, viral or fungal)
  • toxic (medications, or exposure to heavy metals, toxins or physical agents)
  • immune-mediated (allergic reactions, heart transplant rejection or autoantigens)

What is fatty liver?
Fatty liver disease occurs when the liver can’t break down fats like it should and a build-up of fat forms in the liver.

When this occurs in a person who drinks little to no alcohol, it’s called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is a common condition, particularly in men. Obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol are some risk factors that can increase the chances of developing NAFLD.

When excessive alcohol use is the cause of fat build-up in the liver, it’s called alcoholic fatty liver disease, according to the American Liver Foundation (ALF). The ALF says abstaining from alcohol may reverse the condition.

There are often no symptoms with NAFLD and alcoholic fatty liver disease. However, both conditions can cause fatigue, weakness and pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, among other symptoms.

Sources:

Associated Press – ( 1)

Health Library – ( 1), ( 2), ( 3)

American Heart Association – ( 1)

American Liver Foundation – ( 1), ( 2)


Signs of Glaucoma to Know During National Glaucoma Awareness Month

In January, it’s customary to make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or start exercising. While these are certainly excellent health goals, vision health is often overlooked. About three million Americans are estimated to be living with glaucoma. During Glaucoma Awareness Month this January, the healthcare providers of JFK Medical Center encourage our neighbors to become informed of the signs of glaucoma.

Open-Angle Glaucoma

There are different types of glaucoma. The signs and symptoms a person may develop can depend on the specific type he or she has. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form. It typically develops quite slowly and usually does not have early symptoms. As changes do develop, patients are likely to notice a loss of peripheral vision. Peripheral vision is the ability to see objects that are off to the side of the person. Patients can also develop tunnel vision; they may see halos or rainbows around light sources; and eventually, patients can develop blindness.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Angle-closure glaucoma occurs as a result of blocked drainage of the eye, which causes the rapid rise in pressure within the eye. This type of glaucoma develops abruptly and requires emergency care. Patients with this type of glaucoma will typically experience the sudden loss of vision, hazy or blurry vision and nausea or vomiting. Severe head pain and eye pain can also be indicative of angle-closure glaucoma, along with the appearance of rainbows around light sources.

Normal-Tension Glaucoma

Normal-tension glaucoma involves damage to the optic nerve despite normal intraocular pressure levels. It is not typical for patients with this type of glaucoma to experience any symptoms until the damage to the optic nerve is already quite severe. At this point, patients will notice visual impairments.

JFK Medical Center is a leading provider of high-quality healthcare services in Atlantis, including neurology, cardiac, orthopedics, breast care and emergency care. Our team encourages our patients to take proactive steps toward protecting their wellness, including scheduling an annual exam with an ophthalmologist. For general information about our services, call our Consult-A-Nurse line at (561) 965-7300.


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