Heart Smart: New High-Tech Tools to Keep Your Ticker Healthy

Although heart disease is the nation’s No. 1 killer, 80 percent of heart disease is preventable by controlling risk factors. Whether it’s lifestyle changes or medications, early diagnosis is the key to keeping your heart healthy and preventing a health crisis. Parkview Medical Group has the latest technology advancements that can help give you a fighting chance against heart disease.

A new imaging test, a cardiac CT (computerized axial tomography) scan, can help doctors better predict your personal risk of heart attack before symptoms show up,” says Dr. George Gibson.

Head Off a Heart Attack: Cardiac CT

A heart attack, with symptoms such as pain in the center of your chest or in one or both arms and shortness of breath, is a medical emergency. It occurs when plaque—a hard buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances in arteries—breaks open and a blood clot forms that blocks blood flow to your heart.

“A new imaging test, a cardiac CT (computerized axial tomography) scan, can help doctors better predict your personal risk of heart attack before symptoms show up,” says Dr. Gibson.

Cardiac CT uses computers to create a 3D image of the whole heart to assist doctors in looking at the small vessels that feed your heart. This can help them detect coronary artery disease, problems with the aorta, calcium buildup in heart arteries and problems with heart function. “Cardiac CT helps doctors see the vessels in your heart and the amount of plaque in your arteries,” says Dr. X.

Action plan: “Ask for a risk assessment for ischemic heart disease at your next checkup,” Dr. Gibson suggests. Your doctor will then enter your blood pressure and cholesterol into an online risk assessment calculator by clicking here. If your chances of having a heart attack are 10 percent or more in the next decade, a cardiac CT is recommended.

When Your Heart Goes Haywire: Portable Event Monitors

Atrial fibrillation (aFib)—an irregular rhythm that causes one of the heart’s chambers to beat abnormally—is a common form of heart disease. Because of abnormal blood flow, aFib can cause a clot to develop, possibly resulting in a stroke.  

An EKG (electrocardiogram), which provides a one-time picture of your heart rhythm, is the traditional way to diagnose aFib. You may not be in aFib the moment you get the EKG. Fortunately, an event monitor, which looks like a cellphone, can give your doctor a more accurate assessment. You’ll wear it in your pocket around the clock for up to three weeks, except when taking a shower.   

Action plan: Every time you feel symptoms, such as a fluttering heart or lightheadedness, you’ll press the event monitor device to record your heart’s electrical rate and rhythm as you go about your daily activities.  

If you have aFib, the sooner it’s diagnosed and treated, the better. “AFib is a progressive illness that can cause scarring to your heart. The longer you have it, the more difficult it can get to get your heart into a normal rhythm,” Dr. Gibson says.   

Blood Pressure Homework: Digital Home Monitors

For years, high blood pressure, AKA hypertension, was diagnosed when blood pressure—the force of blood against your artery walls when your heart beats and between beats—measured at 140/90 or higher in the doctor’s office. But a new clinical guideline from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association lowers the bar to help you take steps to control your blood pressure earlier. Now, a reading of 130/80 signals hypertension.  

Hypertension doesn’t usually have signs or symptoms, but it can be dangerous and life-threatening and lead to stroke, heart disease and kidney disease. A digital home blood pressure monitor can help diagnose it, and according to the new guidelines, self-monitoring over time can be more accurate than one blood pressure reading in the doctor’s office. Watch for two new mobile monitoring devices that the Food and Drug Administration may be evaluating later this year: the first wearable oscillometric wrist blood pressure monitor, and a new home blood pressure monitor plus EKG measuring device. 

Action plan: Bring your home blood pressure monitor to your doctor’s office to check its accuracy. Then, take your blood pressure at home at the same time daily. Take at least two readings one minute apart each morning before medication and each evening before dinner. Keep a record and bring it to your doctor’s appointments. Your record can indicate the need for blood pressure-lowering medication—or not.  

The Real Story on Stents

Cardiac stents—surgically implanted coils that expand in blood vessels to open narrowed or blocked arteries when you’re having a heart attack or experiencing chest pain (angina) —have been used to treat heart disease. But a recent study in The Lancet questions their effectiveness.  

In the study, angina symptoms and quality of life in patients who received stents were the same as those for patients who remained stent-free. The study shows that medication for lowering cholesterol, high blood pressure and controlling diabetes is the best treatment for heart disease. 

How Healthy is Your Heart?

For a quick heart health test, don a wearable heart rate monitor that fits your budget (the one on your iPhone will do) and check your resting heart rate. A normal resting heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute, so if your heart rate is too high or low, see your doctor. 

“A wearable heart rate monitor can be accurate enough to help with initial detection and signal the need for diagnostic tests,” says Dr. Gibson. 

Our Cardio Doctors

Pueblo Cardiology Associates

Dr. Fadi Alattar Fadi Alattar, MD
Interventional Cardiology
Dr. Albashaireh
Derar Albashaireh, MD
Interventional Cardiology
Dr. Aruni Bhavith Aruni, MD
Interventional Cardiology
Dr. Berarducci Laurence A. Berarducci, MD
Dr. Brown Kathleen Brown, MD
Dr. Garcia
Wallacy S. Garcia, MD
Dr. Gibson George D. Gibson, MD, FACC
Cardiology & Cardiovascular Disease
Dr. Lee Jenny K. Lee, MD, FACC
Cardiology & Cardiovascular Disease
Dr. Lochow Peter Lochow, MD, FACC
Cardiology & Interventional Cardiology
Dr. Mackerrow Stephen D. Mac Kerrow, MD, FACC
Cardiology & Cardiovascular Disease
Dr. Stout Charles W. Stout, MD
Cardiovascular Disease & Electrophysiology
Dr. Strunk Adam Strunk, MD, FACC
Cardiology Disease & Interventional Cardiology
Dr. Vashistha

Raj Vashistha, MD

Request An Appointment

If you'd like to request an appointment with our Pueblo Cardiology Associates' office or have any questions, please call 719-562-2900

Our Heart Beats for You

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Cardiac Rehab

Parkview’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program is dedicated to helping you improve your cardiovascular health. The program consists of exercise on various cardiovascular machines while a nurse monitors your heart rate, blood pressure and guides you through rehabilitation. Exercises are tailored to meet your specific needs according to age and physical condition. Our goal is to work closely with your personal physician and Parkview’s Cardiac team to optimize a safe program for you.

Cardiac rehabilitation, through evaluation, education and exercise, helps make your heart healthy. The program focuses on reducing risk factors, implementing an exercise plan and educating patients. To learn more, click here!

Women's Choice 2019

Women's CHoice 2019

Parkview Medical Center has been named by Women's Choice as one of the best hospitals in the United States for heart care in 2019.

The recognition puts Parkview among 408 of nearly 4,800 hospitals offering heart services. 

Women's Choice looked at criteria including the number of services offered, readmission and mortality rates and patient satisfaction to determine that Parkview offers elite heart care to its patients.  

Hearts that Matter

Cindy Grant

Cindy Grant loves to paint rocks.

The stones, covered in vibrant colors and whimsical designs, fill a bookshelf here and a planter there around her home and, just recently, caught the attention of potential customers.

“My specialty is Nativity scenes,” she said.

A few people had made special orders for the unique gifts. But in late December, after a regular echocardiogram for her heart murmur revealed a mitral valve regurgitation, things stopped. To read more, click here!