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Carene's Wellness Corner
A heart healthy lifestyle

CNE Talks Your Health

How is Your Heart Ticking?

Almost every lifestyle change people resolved to make this month – quitting smoking, dieting, exercising – have one body part in common: the heart.

Although we tend to forget it's there ticking away in our chest until we dash up a flight of stairs or feel a surge of adrenaline in a scary situation, the heart is an amazing muscle that contracts and expands more than 100,000 times a day and pumps 2,000 gallons of blood through the body to power bodily functions and performance.

Despite its importance, Americans still struggle with keeping their hearts healthy. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in this country, with someone dying from it every 37 seconds.

"The health of the heart impacts every aspect of human life," explains Chester M. Hedgepeth III, MD, PhD, chief of cardiology at Kent Hospital and director of Brigham and Women's Hospital Cardiovascular Associates at Kent Hospital. "It's as important as ever that people take the appropriate steps to keep their hearts healthy and powering the entire body."

With that in mind, make this the year you put good healthy habits into practice and learn the signs of heart disease and trouble that requires a trip to the doctor's office or the emergency room.
» Prevention and Treatment

Brigham and Women's Cardiovascular Associates at Kent Hospital

Kent Hospital offers a wide variety of cardiology services for the community, including access to specialized cardiac patient care units and state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization laboratories. In addition, Kent offers a wide range of electrophysiology services including cardiac ablations (procedure is used to treat abnormally rapid heart rates), pacemaker/defibrillator placement, and cardiac resynchronization therapy device placement.

"At Kent, we also offer a full range of cardiac stress tests and, to achieve the highest level of care for our community, we have assembled a specialized team of cardiovascular nurses and technologists," Dr. Hedgepeth notes, adding that Kent recently formed its own cardiology practice, Brigham and Women's Cardiovascular Associates at Kent Hospital, to evaluate patients in either an outpatient or inpatient setting.

"With the combination of resources on site at Kent and with our affiliation with Brigham and Women's Hospital, we are able to coordinate the care of the most complex cardiac issues."

For a referral to a cardiologist affiliated with Kent Hospital, call (401) 737-9950.

Signs of Trouble

When trouble with your heart does strike, it's important to get help quickly to avoid more serious problems. According to Dr. Hedgepeth, physicians use this simple series of questions to gauge the symptoms of a heart health scare:

  • How bad is your pain, on a scale of 1 (minimal) to 10 (worst possible pain imaginable).
  • Where is the pain-front, back, side or everywhere?
  • What type of pain are you having-dull, sharp, pressure or hard to describe?
  • Does the pain get worse with exercise, rest, deep breathing, leaning forward, eating or swallowing, pressing on the painful area?
  • Do you also have any of the following symptoms:
        - Pain in the arm, jaw or back
        - Coughing and/or difficulty breathing
        - Coughing up blood
        - Palpitations
        - Nausea
        - Excessive sweating
        - Fever
        - Wheezing
        - High or low blood pressure
        - Difficult or painful swallowing

Interestingly enough, Dr. Hedgepeth says discomfort in the chest, also called angina, is more likely to occur in the morning due to the body's normal increase in heart rate, blood pressure and vessel tone.

Patients, he advises, should discuss any of these symptoms with their primary care provider immediately. Someone with unstable symptoms of angina, including chest discomfort at rest, rapidly progressive chest discomfort, or angina associated with shortness of breath, sweating or light headedness should call 911 immediately.

Care New England
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