5 Ways Diabetes Can Affect Your Heart

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects more than 100 million people in the United States! Managing diabetes or prediabetes is difficult on its own but these conditions also increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. 

November is National Diabetes Month, an annual observance dedicated to raising awareness about diabetes. This month, make your health a priority by taking steps to improve your diabetes and heart health.

Luckily there are steps you can take this month to protect your heart and improve your health overall. Keep reading to learn how diabetes affects your heart and what you can do to help.

  1. High Blood Glucose

Diabetes can lead to a variety of health complications, including heart disease and stroke. This is because high blood glucose caused by diabetes can damage your blood vessels along with the nerves in your heart and blood vessels. Unfortunately, this can lead to heart disease over time.

People who have diabetes are more prone to heart disease at a younger age than those without it. Adults with diabetes are almost twice as likely to also have heart disease. Lowering your blood sugar levels can help to reduce your risk of heart disease.

  1. High Cholesterol Levels

Having diabetes often causes high cholesterol. This is when there is an increased amount of cholesterol in your blood. When “bad” cholesterol or LDL builds up in your blood it can clog your blood vessels and raise your risk of heart disease

Visiting a heart specialist for regular check-ups can determine your current heart health and how to manage any early warning signs. You can also improve your cholesterol levels by eating a more plant-based diet and getting plenty of physical activity.

  1. Kidney Disease

When your kidneys are damaged, they can’t filter blood properly. Having diabetes raises your risk of developing kidney disease. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) has been linked to heart disease. This is partly because they share similar symptoms such as high blood sugar, obesity, unhealthy diet, high blood pressure, family history, and inactivity.

Over time, issues such as high blood sugar damage the kidneys. Their inability to filter blood properly puts further strain on your heart. When this happens, CKD can occur which causes the heart to have to pump harder to push blood to your kidneys. This can lead to heart disease.

Luckily the same positive healthy habits that reduce your risk of other diseases can also help you lower your risk of developing kidney disease. This includes quitting smoking, eating a diabetes-friendly diet, exercising regularly, and getting regular check-ups with your doctor.

  1. High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is when your heart has to work harder to pump your blood throughout your body. The strain on your heart over time increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease. 

Unfortunately having diabetes means you are twice as likely to have high blood pressure. This also means you are four times more likely to develop heart disease. If you have diabetes it’s important to have your blood pressure tested regularly. Your doctor may decide to prescribe medication to help lower your blood pressure and protect your heart.

  1. Chronic Smoking

If you are a smoker and also have diabetes, this is dangerous for your heart. This is because smoking and diabetes both narrow your blood vessels, causing further strain on your heart. Smoking also increases your chances of lung disease, foot or leg amputation, and lower leg infections and ulcers.

Quitting smoking today can instantly begin to help improve your health and reduce your risks. Even if you’ve been smoking for many years, quitting smoking now can make a difference.

  1. Obesity

Your health problems can increase if you have diabetes and are overweight. Obesity also raises your risk for heart disease and high blood pressure. Increasing your physical activity and eating healthily often leads to lower blood sugar levels.

If you want to lower your risk for heart disease, you can work with a specialist to help find a healthy plan to reduce your weight and excess belly fat. This can improve your overall health and prevent a variety of serious illnesses.

Take Steps to Improve Your Heart Health

The cardiovascular experts at HeartCare Associates of Connecticut provide comprehensive cardiac care at their state-of-the-art facilities and can provide the advanced medical management you need to improve your diabetes and heart health. Call us to request an appointment today! 203-407-2500

Don’t wait to take action toward better health this month. Let us help you gain peace of mind for you and your family by scheduling an appointment here

Are Allergies Affecting Your Heart?

Are you plagued by pesky fall allergies? You might be familiar with the runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes that come with seasonal allergies, but did you know it could have an effect on your heart?

If you’re prone to allergies then it may surprise you to know that allergic disorders have a connection to more serious heart health issues. Keep reading to find out if you could be at risk for high blood pressure and coronary disease and what you can do to protect your heart.

What Causes Fall Allergies?

During the months of August through November, you may find that your seasonal allergies take a turn for the worse. Ragweed thrives on the East Coast and in the Midwest but grows wild in most areas of the country. During the fall it blooms and releases pollen, causing many of us to be hit with bouts of stuffiness, burning eyes, and congestion.

Ragweed isn’t the only cause. Burning bush, pigweed, sagebrush, lamb’s-quarters, mugwort, and cocklebur are other common plants that trigger allergies in the fall. The severity of your allergies can also depend on the weather. For example, windy and warm days cause pollen counts to surge and pollen levels increase when cool nights meet warm days.

If you find that you feel sick often with a cough or head congestion, then it’s time to visit an allergist. This is key to determining exactly what is causing these symptoms.

Addressing your allergy symptoms is important to your quality of life. But there are even more severe effects that chronic allergies can have on your overall health. New research has shown that individuals with allergies or asthma who have suffered between the ages of 18 and 57 are at a higher risk of high blood pressure. The highest risk of high blood pressure was shown to be people with asthma.  

 Why Are They Connected?

Factors such as family history, lack of exercise, diabetes, smoking, and obesity can contribute to increasing your risk of heart disease. But why are allergies and asthma also connected?

Although previous studies found a potential correlation, the latest research has proven to be far more accurate and reliable. Scientists used data on over 10,000 people with at least one allergic disorder to test their hypothesis. These included those with respiratory, food, and/or skin allergies. 

Not only did they find correlations to high blood pressure, but they also showed a higher risk for coronary heart disease. This was specifically noted for people between the ages of 39 and 57 who had allergies. 

Coronary heart disease (CAD) can cause a heart attack in some people. It occurs when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This causes the arteries to narrow over time and can partially or completely block blood flow.

The connection between allergies, high blood pressure, and coronary heart disease is still unclear. However, researchers are confident that the correlation between both has something to do with increased inflammation in the body.

While histamines are a natural way that your body combats threats by increasing blood flow to the area of attack, prolonged inflammation is known to lead to many chronic diseases. This includes diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

In addition, the antihistamines used in many allergy medications (and D, or pseudoephedrine in over-the-counter allergy medications) constrict blood flow. This is meant to counter the inflammatory response.

However, this also leads to narrowing blood vessels throughout the body, which can result in high blood pressure as well as an increased heart rate. Steroids prescribed for asthma attacks may also have a long-term negative effect on the cardiovascular system.

The combination of these and other factors such as poor diet, stress, lack of exercise, pollution, and other influences, can lead to a higher risk of heart issues.

What Does this Mean for You?

If you struggle with allergies or asthma and are concerned about your heart health, then there are many ways you can protect your heart now. 

Lifestyle changes including healthy eating and increasing your physical activity can improve your overall heart health. You may need to avoid sugary and high-process foods which can increase inflammation in the body. Quitting smoking and avoiding alcohol are also recommended.

In addition, it is highly recommended that you reach out to your doctor for a routine evaluation of blood pressure and coronary heart disease. Based on their findings, researchers recommend clinicians add a cardiovascular risk assessment for patients with asthma and allergies.

The key to your heart health is catching early signs of cardiovascular disease before you experience any serious symptoms. This allows you and your doctor to create an effective treatment and/or preventative plan to keep your heart healthy for years to come.

Check Your Heart’s Health Today

This new research is a great way to stay aware of potential risks associated with your heart. Thankfully you don’t have to wonder about your heart’s health. A simple check up can help put your mind at ease.

Schedule an appointment with one of our expert cardiologists today. Heart disease is often undetected and minor heart attacks go undiagnosed every day. A quick evaluation can prevent more serious heart problems in the future.

Don’t wait to take action toward better health this month. Let us help you gain peace of mind for you and your family by scheduling an appointment here

5 Ways to Benefit from National Healthy Aging Month

Have you heard? September is National Healthy Aging Month! It’s a great reminder of the importance of regular health check-ups, which are fundamental for detecting and managing potential health issues early on.

Routine screenings, vaccinations, and consultations with healthcare professionals can help prevent and manage chronic conditions, ensuring a higher quality of life as we age. Let’s take a look at some ways to make sure you are giving your body the support it needs.

  1. Get the Most From Your Greens

It’s never too late to start a healthy eating plan. As you age, your dietary needs change. Take time this month to reassess your daily food and drink intake. What are some easy changes or adjustments you can make to incorporate more nutritious foods into your diet? What are some unhealthy foods you can reduce or eliminate?

Eating nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables can help fuel your body instead of stressing it. Be sure you’re drinking plenty of liquids to stay hydrated. The average healthy adult should drink about 15.5 cups of fluids a day (for men) and 11.5 cups of fluids a day (for women).

Another aspect of healthy living is avoiding harmful substances such as alcohol and smoking. These habits are known to increase your chances of heart disease and stroke, among other life-threatening illnesses.

If you want to get back on track with your diet, then consider a consultation with a nutritionist who can provide you with an individualized plan.

  1. Stay Up-to-Date on Regular Check-Ups

Many health conditions are treatable if you’re able to detect them early. That’s why it’s important to not skip your regular check-ups. 

At HeartCare Associates of CT, we strongly believe in wellness visits to prevent any major heart issues. Our team of cardiologists can evaluate, diagnose, and treat nearly any cardiovascular concern from heart disease and peripheral arterial disease to angina and heart attack.

Many people are completely unaware that they have high cholesterol and/or blood pressure – two common heart conditions. You may feel perfectly healthy and still have one of these underlying issues. Meeting with your doctor regularly to monitor your heart can help you discover these conditions before they become more serious.

Regular check-ups are especially recommended if you have health issues that run in your family. 

  1. Start Moving Toward Your Goals

National Healthy Aging Month is a great time to get motivated and get moving. Exercising and staying active as you age has many benefits to preventing, delaying, and managing chronic diseases. It can help you maintain stamina and even improve your brain health. Being physically fit reduces your risk of falling, which can cause severe injury.

Don’t stress about how much exercise you add to your regular routine. Even just 22-30 minutes a day of exercise such as walking or muscle-strengthening activities (at least two days a week), can make a difference in your overall health.

Studies suggest that people who exercise regularly live longer. Physical activity is also linked to a better quality of life. Furthermore, a study of adults (40 and older) revealed that those taking 8,000 steps or more per day, compared to 4,000 steps, were at a 51% lower risk of death from all causes.

  1. Beyond Your Body

It’s easy to forget that wellness includes more than just your physical health. Don’t forget to care for your mental and emotional well-being. These aspects of your health are vital to the quality of your life and how fulfilling it is. 

Part of honoring your mental and emotional health includes expressing your thoughts and feelings through constructive outlets. It also includes practicing stress management techniques, being able to accept and forgive yourself, and reaching out for support. 

To stimulate your mind, consider taking courses or workshops on topics that excite you. Pick up a new book that expands your imagination or teaches you new lessons. It’s important to exercise your mind just as much as your body.

Don’t assume that forgetfulness is a normal part of aging. If you notice changes in your memory, increased confusion, or difficulty communicating, it’s important to address these symptoms early on. If you do show signs of dementia, your primary care doctor can provide a diagnosis and offer some ways to manage it.

  1. Sharing in Social Circles You Care About  

Part of a healthy lifestyle as you age, is maintaining a positive social life. This can include being active in your community, family, or a close friend group. Maintaining relationships with others and building a support network is important to the overall quality of your life. 

By contributing to your community, you’re building a sense of belonging and adding deeper levels of purpose to your life. If you feel like you could use some more socializing in your life, then consider volunteering for your community. Offer your personal talents and skills as a way to help others. 

Plan a fun get-together or trip with your friends or family members. Schedule a weekly meet-up for coffee, dinner, or a walk in nature. Socializing provides you with a group of like-minded individuals who can offer help and encouragement when you need it most. Plus, it feels good to help others and be there for them too.

Together you can offer motivation to stay healthy and active. You’re more likely to stick with, and reach, your goals when you have a workout buddy.

Get Ready to Make the Most of September!

It can be hard to keep up with how quickly time flies. Make National Healthy Aging Month your time to check in with your health so it doesn’t slow you down. As we age, our body naturally changes. It’s easy to forget to stay on top of our regular check-ups.

This is the perfect time to schedule an appointment with one of our expert cardiologists. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Luckily, it is preventable and treatable if detected early on. 

Don’t wait to take action toward better health this month. Let us help you gain peace of mind for you and your family by scheduling an appointment here

Life-Saving Reasons to Get a Nuclear Cardiac Scan

Over 6 million Americans live with heart failure, and four out of five people don’t know they have it! This is because symptoms of heart issues aren’t always severe at first — But can end up in a visit to the emergency room.

Early detection of heart disease and other conditions can be life-saving. Heart conditions discovered and treated early with medications or lifestyle changes, often lead to a long and healthy lifespan.

The treatment of heart conditions early on can also prevent other health issues from arising. It’s easy for your doctor to determine the current health of your heart with a non-invasive nuclear cardiac scan.

Keep reading to find out why a nuclear cardiac scan could be right for you.

What is a Nuclear Cardiac Scan?

Nuclear cardiac scanning is a test that allows your cardiologist to view images of your heart to evaluate its health — including blood flow and general heart function. In some cases, it is used to look for any damage to the heart from chemotherapy or radiotherapy. 

In this test, your care provider injects a tracer — a safe radioactive material — into your vein. The tracer moves up to your heart and releases energy to form an image of your heart. A gamma camera captures images of your heart while you are sitting or lying still. 

The scan also includes images of your heart when you’re active to see how your heart handles stress. There are two ways to do a stress test: on a treadmill or at rest with medication. Sometimes, your cardiologist combines these two methods depending on your individual condition. 

After your stress test, the gamma camera again captures images of your heart. Throughout the stress test, your provider monitors your blood pressure and electrocardiogram (EKG) to ensure your safety. The entire process can take around four hours to complete.

Using these high-tech images, your cardiologist evaluates the blood supply to the heart. This test is low-risk and is often a crucial part of early heart problem detection. 

The nuclear cardiac scanning method HeartCare Associates of Connecticut most commonly performs is myocardial perfusion imaging. In myocardial perfusion imaging, your provider administers two separate tracer injections. The gamma camera captures images of your heart for a thorough exam.

Why is a Nuclear Cardiac Scan Important?

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death globally. Many symptoms go undetected for a long time and can easily be mistaken for normal signs of aging. For example, feeling tired, shortness of breath, wheezing, weight gain, and trouble remembering things, are all signs of CVD. 

At the same time, most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented and treated by working with your doctor on a plan that is right for you.

The nuclear cardiac scan is a detailed way for your doctor to detect any heart conditions that need attention. The scan reveals your heart function and any damage that may need treatment. 

Who Should Get a Nuclear Cardiac Scan?

A nuclear cardiac scan is a great method for early detection of coronary artery disease and can help your doctor see how the blood is flowing through your heart and the function of your heart’s muscle.  

Your doctor might recommend this scan if you are at a high risk of heart disease, have other related health issues, or have recently had heart surgery. If you have a family history of heart disease or other symptoms, you could be the right candidate for this scan. 

How Should You Prepare for a Scan?

Before getting a nuclear cardiac scan, your doctor may have important guidelines to follow. In some cases, this includes fasting two hours before the test, abstaining from caffeine for 24 hours prior, not taking medications 48 hours before your scan, and for those who have asthma, bringing your inhaler to the appointment.

In addition, it’s recommended that you wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing to your appointment. It’s important to follow the specific requirements that your doctor provides for you to ensure the most accurate results.

Your Heart Health Matters

Should you have a nuclear cardiac scan? Whether you’re currently being treated for a heart condition or are at risk for one, our doctors can help you determine if myocardial perfusion imaging is right for you.  

Our cardiac specialists have accreditation in nuclear cardiology from the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission and are here to help you with all your nuclear cardiac scanning needs. 

Book an appointment at one of their convenient locations in Hamden, East Haven, North Haven, West Haven, and Wallingford, Connecticut, online, or by phone today.

6 Tips for Summertime Health

The summertime might mean fun vacations to the beach, outdoor adventures, and backyard barbeques, but it can also be a dangerous time for your heart. More than 600 people in the United States die each year from extreme heat. 

Hotter temperatures are known to put a strain on our cardiovascular health. This is especially true for the elderly and those with compromised health conditions.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to stay safe and still have fun this season. We’ve created a list of easy tips to help you stay healthy and active all summer long! 

  1. Hydration is Key

When our bodies are exposed to extreme, prolonged heat, they become even more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. This is often due to the cardiovascular system being unable to thermoregulate your internal body temperature. 

Studies show that in extremely high temperatures, the rate of cardiovascular deaths can double or triple. In extreme heat, your heart has to work harder to cool your body down. It does this by pumping blood from major organs to your skin. 

When you hydrate and drink water, you are making it easier for your heart to move the blood through your body. Even if you don’t think you’re thirsty, it’s important to drink water when in hotter climates. 

Drinking water before, during, and after going out into the heat ensures you remain hydrated. Plus, it’s more effective to drink water in short intervals than a lot of water all at once. Drink one cup of water every 15-20 minutes for the best results.

  1. Stay In the Clear

Monitor how often you’re using the restroom. You should be urinating regularly. Having clear urine is a good sign that you’re hydrated. Avoid alcoholic drinks, soda, and caffeine (including energy drinks) which can cause dehydration.

Drinking too much water (or liquids) can have a dangerous effect. Never drink more than one and a half quarts (48 oz) of water per hour. This can cause overhydration and result in the concentration of salt in your blood being too low and electrolyte imbalances (hyponatremia) — which can cause a medical emergency.

  1. Gear Up and Dress Appropriately

Another way to protect yourself from the hot summer temps is by dressing for the heat. You can do this by wearing breathable materials that are lightweight and light in color. Don’t forget to put on a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from harsh UV rays.

A portable, hands-free fan and spray bottle, to mist yourself, are great ways to stay cool no matter where your summer adventures take you. An umbrella is also useful to create shade wherever you go.

Don’t leave your house without applying broadspectrum sunblock with at least 15 SPF. Be sure to reapply every two hours if you plan to be outside — or right after sweating, swimming, or toweling off. You can purchase travel sunscreen bottles with a carabiner clip on them. Simply attach it to your bag and you’re good to go!

  1. Don’t Push It

It’s best to take plenty of breaks during the hot summer months. From about noon to 3 p.m., the sun is at its strongest. This is a good time to take a break and go indoors or rest in the shade. 

There’s no reason to push yourself and risk your health. It’s easy to underestimate the effects that the heat has on our bodies. So set up a timer on your phone so you’re reminded to hydrate and cool down regularly.

Certain medications can affect your body’s ability to cool down and respond to heat. Talk to your doctor about possible heat-related side effects that your medication may have.

  1. Staying Cool & Active

It is possible to enjoy the summer months with your friends and family while also staying cool. Being active and getting plenty of exercise is still important to your health. Even if it’s too hot for some activities, find ways to exercise by either swimming or hitting up the gym indoors.

You can also use healthy snacks to stay cool before a workout. For example, frozen fruit smoothies, cold salads with fresh vegetables, or homemade popsicles are all nutritious options.

  1. Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Even if you’re being careful, there’s always a risk of heat exhaustion during the summer months. Make sure you’re familiar with the signs so you can spot them right away and get the help you need.

Some symptoms of heat exhaustion are headaches, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, dizziness or fainting. You may also feel cold, have chills, moist skin, or sweat heavily. Your pulse could be weak or rapid with fast, shallow breathing.

Signs of a heat stroke are similar and include throbbing headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting, a strong and rapid pulse, confusion and even unconsciousness. If you or someone you know start to show signs of either heat exhaustion or heat stroke, stop exercising right away, use water to cool down and call 9-1-1 immediately.

Summer Safety

There’s no reason to let the heat stop you from having fun this summer. We hope you found these tips helpful for staying safe all season long! It’s always a good idea to get a complete check-up to ensure you’re in the best health possible.

Ready to take action toward better health this summer for you and your family? Let us help you get there by scheduling an appointment here

What to Expect at a Cardiovascular Disease Screening

Cardiovascular disease kills one person every 33 seconds in the United States. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for many racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. Taking care of your heart is vital to your overall health and well-being.

That’s why it’s important to have regular cardiovascular health screenings to assess your risk for cardiovascular disease. It’s a non-invasive and simple way to check in on your heart and make sure it’s thriving, to keep you happy and healthy throughout your life.

What Is a Cardiovascular Health Screening?

A Cardiovascular Health Screening includes a variety of simple tests that can help your doctor spot any early warning signs of issues with your heart. Detecting these signs early on can help you address those issues and avoid serious heart diseases, heart attacks, and strokes.

In some cases, there aren’t any physical signs that your heart might be in danger. You might feel in perfect health but a cardiovascular health screening could determine symptoms that say otherwise.

Getting a cardiovascular health screening when you’re healthy, is still a good idea! Having a baseline of numbers for your body now can help your doctor spot changes in your health in the future. A cardiovascular health screening, allows you to take action in resolving heart health concerns before they appear or worsen.

Blood Tests Can Reveal Your Heart Health

A simple blood test can reveal a lot about what’s going on beneath the surface. There’s a variety of information your doctor can gain from testing your blood for cholesterol and sugar levels.

Cholesterol Levels

Nearly 40 million Americans have high cholesterol levels, luckily a quick screening can determine your levels and what you can do. Cholesterol is a waxy substance. It comes from the foods you eat and can build up in your blood over time.

A cardiovascular health screening includes testing your blood for cholesterol, lipid, and triglyceride levels. Testing these levels can help detect conditions that might lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Your diet can affect these levels, as well as age, sex, and family history. If your doctor notices high levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or bad cholesterol, then you can take steps to reduce the levels through healthier habits.

Low levels (under 40mg/dl in men and 55 mg/dl in women) of HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or good cholesterol, increase your risk of stroke and heart disease.

Triglycerides are another type of fat in your blood that your doctor will test. If there are high levels (150 mg/dl or higher) then you are at a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.

Blood Sugar Levels

People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing heart disease. The risk of diabetes and heart disease are closely linked, which is why your doctor may order a blood glucose test. Having diabetes means your blood sugar level is higher than normal, so it’s important for your doctor to keep an eye on this when it comes to your heart health.

Test Your Blood Pressure

Without a medical professional taking your blood pressure, there’s no way to tell if you have high blood pressure. That’s why it’s important to have it tested. High blood pressure is a major indicator of heart disease.

It takes seconds to test your blood pressure but can tell your doctor so much about your heart health. If your blood pressure is high, for example over 120/80 mmHg, then your doctor can work with you to lower it through lifestyle changes or medication.

Share Your Family History

At your screening, your doctor will ask you about your family history. It’s important for your doctor to know if heart disease runs in your family, because this means there is a greater chance that you can develop it too.

When you and your doctor have a better understanding of your family history, it allows you to manage your own heart health in a more effective way.

Weighing In on Heart Health

Another way your doctor tracks your heart health is by weighing you. Being overweight can increase your chances of developing heart disease. Your doctor will want to take note of your weight, height, and waist circumference to ensure you are in a healthy weight range.

If there is concern over your weight, you can work with your doctor to find a diet and exercise plan that works best for you.

Talk About Your Lifestyle

For the most part, we do our best to live a healthy lifestyle by getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating healthy. But it can be hard to maintain when there are so many other factors, responsibilities, and stressors in life.

Habits such as smoking tobacco, increase your risk of heart disease. Chemicals in tobacco can damage the heart and blood vessels while reducing the oxygen in the blood. This results in increased blood pressure and heart rate.

The good news is your risk of heart disease starts to drop even a day after quitting smoking. It doesn’t matter how long or much you smoked, the benefits of quitting begin to instantly pay off.

It’s vital to our hearts that we make an effort to stay on top of our health. Luckily, getting a cardiovascular health screening can tell you where you’re at currently, as well as the steps you can take today to make improvements to your habits. No one is perfect, but it’s worth making an extra effort if your heart is in danger.

Let’s Get Started!

Don’t let cardiovascular disease sneak up on your health. Setting up a cardiovascular health screening is the first step to making a difference for your heart.

At Heart Care Associates, we provide comprehensive cardiovascular health screenings and non-invasive testing to help you stay on top of your heart health.

Our team of cardiologists are committed to ensuring you have the information you need to make informed decisions about your health. Don’t wait until it’s too late, prevention is the key to optimum health. Take the first easy step by calling us for an appointment 203-407-2500.

National Stroke Awareness Month

More than 130,000 people die yearly from strokes in the U.S. Many others who survive are left with temporary or permanent disabilities. 

We understand it can be scary to think about the possibility of a stroke. But luckily understanding the signs, knowing what to do, and taking preventative measures can help to avoid the severe impact a stroke can have.

In honor of National Stroke Awareness Month, we’re shedding light on the risk factors, prevention strategies, and symptoms of strokes. 

Awareness is the First Step to Prevention

Why is stroke awareness important? For one, recognizing the signs that someone may be having a stroke, is critical to getting them help as soon as possible. The sooner you can get to a hospital or Stroke Center, the more likely a person is to recover. 

A stroke gone undetected can cause further damage to the brain. Taking action faster means medical care can be provided to prevent brain loss.

Stroke awareness also means taking preventative measures to protect your health. Taking care of your health now and quitting bad habits can help you to avoid a stroke later in life.

What Causes A Stroke?

There are two main types of strokes and their causes are slightly different. The more common type is an ischemic stroke. This occurs when an artery that carries oxygen-rich blood flow to the brain is blocked. 

A hemorrhagic stroke is the second main type. It is when an artery to the brain is leaking blood due to a rupture. This causes the blood to flood the brain tissue. The leaking blood puts pressure on the brain cells and damages them. 

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a mini-stroke. This is less extreme because the brain’s blood flow is only blocked for a short time, more often five minutes or less. This means less damage is done to the brain.

Unhealthy habits such as smoking, alcohol, poor diet, low activity, that can lead to medical conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes — all increase your risk of having a stroke.

What Are Key Stroke Symptoms?

The sooner you identify the signs of a stroke, the faster you can take action. This can decrease the amount of damage to the brain tissue. 

Some key symptoms that someone is having a stroke include speech difficulty, slurring words, arm weakness, paralysis, and facial drooping. These are the most common symptoms, but a person can also experience a sudden change of vision, a severe headache, or a loss of balance and coordination.

It’s easy for a stroke to go undetected because the symptoms might seem benign at first or feel like having the flu. It’s important to know what a stroke can look like so you can get help right away. 

What Should You Do If Someone Is Having a Stroke?

Even if you’re not 100% sure a person is having a stroke, calling an ambulance right away is better than waiting. 

Calling an ambulance is recommended over driving someone to the hospital. This is because the ambulance will often get to the hospital faster, and the patient is treated faster — both by the paramedics and as soon as they arrive at the hospital. 

If a patient arrives within a three-hour timeframe, they will often get what is called thrombolytic therapy (tissue plasminogen activator or tPA treatment). This is a medication that is given intravenously or by injection. 

This medication dissolves the blood clot, allowing the flow of blood and oxygen to return to the brain. The timeliness of getting this medication can limit the risk of damage and functional impairment.

What Can You Do Now?

It’s important to note that a stroke can happen at any age. While three-quarters of strokes occur in people over the age of 65, 10% of strokes occur in people under 50. There are steps you can take now to protect yourself from developing a stroke.

According to the CDC, many strokes are preventable through healthy lifestyle changes. This includes choosing healthy foods and drinks that are high in nutrients. 

You’ve probably heard it before, eating fresh fruits and vegetables while staying away from foods that are high in sugar and saturated fats is key to a healthy diet. Limiting your salt or sodium intake can help lower your blood pressure which increases your chances of having a stroke.

Maintaining a healthy weight is also on the list for stroke prevention. Obesity increases your risk for a number of health risks including strokes. Regular physical activity can help you stay within a healthy weight range. About two and a half hours of brisk walking each week is recommended by the surgeon general.

If you’re a smoker, then quitting can instantly lower your risk of having a stroke and also improve your overall health. Many people underestimate how fast quitting smoking can begin to benefit them. Even after just 20 minutes of quitting, your heart rate drops, and after 12 hours the carbon monoxide level in your blood returns to normal. 

By 2-12 weeks your lung function is already improving. It’s never too late to decide to quit smoking and allow your body to heal.  

Decreasing your alcohol intake is also highly recommended to prevent strokes. Drinking too much alcohol has a direct effect on your blood pressure. According to the CDC, men should have no more than two drinks per day, while women should avoid having more than one per day.

You’re Not Alone: We Can Help!

It may feel overwhelming to maintain a healthy lifestyle and lower your risk for stroke. But we’re here to help you stay on track!

Your health provider can determine your current state of health. Checking your blood pressure regularly can help detect any signs of illness early. High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, so it’s important to have it checked even if you’re feeling fine.

Your doctor can also detect signs of diabetes and have you tested so you can receive the proper health care. They may recommend medications or assist you in making certain lifestyle changes to lower your blood sugar.

A medical professional can also help detect and treat heart conditions that could put you at a higher risk of stroke or heart disease. 

Take Your Awareness to the Next Level

We hope spreading awareness this month can help more people prevent the dangerous effects of strokes. It’s easy to forget or avoid thinking about potential health risks. Even though it’s tough to talk about, National Stroke Awareness Month is an opportunity to take the vital steps necessary to maintain your health and put your mind at ease.

Ready to take action toward better health this month for you and your family? Let us help you get there by scheduling an appointment here

5 Tips for Your Healthiest Spring Yet!

It’s officially spring! A time of reflection, celebration, and excitement as new growth begins
to sprout up from the once-frozen ground. Nature is reawakening to a fresh start, and you
can too!
As we welcome colorful flowers, longer days, and warmer temps, it’s a great reminder to get
moving. If you made resolutions to improve your exercise routine and get serious about
your health, then April is the time to reinvigorate your motivation. It’s never too late to plant
new seeds (or nurture your current ones) to reach the life you desire.
There is nothing more important than your physical and mental health! We know you can
make this spring your healthiest one yet, with just a few simple steps. Ready to make the
most of this spring? Keep reading for our must-know tips.

  1. Schedule Your Next Check-In
    There are many steps you can take to improve your overall health, but some signs of health
    issues can only be detected by a doctor. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.
    and accounts for 695,547 deaths every year.
    Luckily, regular check-ins can help detect a heart illness in advance. Your doctor may use blood
    tests, x-rays, EKGs, CT scans, MRIs, portable monitoring systems, or other methods to make
    sure your heart is healthy.
    It’s possible to be asymptomatic and still be in the beginning stages of heart disease. Meaning,
    you may have no signs of illness, other than what is detected on a scan. The earlier you can
    detect heart disease, the better chance you have to treat it.
    Even if you’re in great health, establishing a relationship with your physician can help you create
    a life-long plan, giving you a better chance of avoiding heart disease altogether!
    Schedule a regular check-in today to ensure you’re in good health. It’s our recommended first
    step to your healthiest spring yet!
  2. Increase Your Activity

Recent studies show that over 100,000 deaths could be prevented each year if adults increased
their activity by 10 minutes a day. Exercise is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle,
and you don’t need to hit the gym for hours to make a difference.
Aiming for about 30 minutes of moderate activity every day is a great start. It’s also important to
reduce the amount of time you’re sitting as much as possible. Even for those who exercise
regularly, sitting can negatively affect your hard work. Try switching to a standing desk at work
or find other alternatives to sitting for long hours.
With the temperatures rising and additional daylight, it’s a great opportunity to spend more time
outside getting exercise and fresh air. Find a way to add even 10 minutes of additional exercise
to your routine, if you find you’ve dialed it back during the winter months.

  1. Know Your Family History
    April brings with it a host of holidays including Easter and Passover. Many of us gather with
    friends and family to enjoy fun activities. Getting in touch with loved ones could also lead to
    conversations about your family’s medical history. These insights can offer advantages to your
    own health by giving you a heads-up about conditions you’re at higher risk for.
    You can also do your own research by looking into death certificates and family medical
    records. Find information beyond just your immediate family. It’s useful to know the family
    history of your parents, grandparents, siblings, half-siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews,
    and beyond.
    The key information to make note of is the causes of death, age of death, any major medical
    conditions, as well as the age of diagnosis. Your ethnic background can also offer helpful clues.
  2. Discover New Spring Veggies
    Maybe you’ve already set a resolution to eat healthier and add more greens to your diet. This is
    a vital way to improve your health from the inside out. Don’t lose momentum during the April
    holidays when temptation comes in an assortment pastel-color wrappings.
    This spring, why not mix things up by trying some of the freshest fruits and vegetables this time
    of year? Asparagus, beets, bok choy, cauliflower, spinach, and strawberries are known for being
    readily available in the springtime. Each one offers its own vitamins and health benefits. For
    example, asparagus is a great source of vitamin K, A, and iron.
    These are just a few of the many fruits and vegetables that are available in the spring. Add
    some new flavors and nutrients to liven up your daily routine!
  3. Prioritize Your Mental Health

It’s no secret that stress over long periods of time can lead to health problems. High levels of
cortisol, a steroid hormone that mainly helps your body regulate stress, can increase blood
pressure, triglycerides, blood sugar, and cholesterol. This can lead to the build-up of plaque in
arteries and raise your risk of heart disease.
For those who are already diagnosed with heart disease, reducing stress also lowers your risk
of a heart attack.
It’s easy to forget the importance of mental health care when we are caught up in daily
distractions, but this is a key factor in your life’s quality and longevity. Springtime is a great
opportunity to embrace a fresh approach to your mental health.
This includes new creative ideas and interests that you’ve been putting on hold but would love
to try. For example, a career change, learning a new language, joining a yoga class, or going on
a road trip. Take a cue from Mother Nature: plant those seeds of desire and watch them grow!
Luckily eating healthy and exercising also have a positive effect on your mental health. In
addition, make a goal to establish a support system and talk to people you trust. Everyone
reacts to stress differently. It’s okay to ask for additional support whenever you need it.
Consider decreasing your alcohol and coffee intake if you find yourself anxious often. Quitting
smoking is another way to reduce stress. Other resources include counseling, meditation
classes, and other programs. Reach out to your healthcare provider if you’re not sure where to
Make This Spring About You!
When you’re feeling your best, you’re able to enjoy life more and show up for others in the best
ways possible. It’s never been a better time to make your health a priority. We want to help you
get there this April!
We hope you found these tips helpful and motivating as we begin the first full month of spring.
At HeartCare, we believe in prevention. We want you to live longer in a body that allows you
to enjoy life to its fullest potential.
Have questions? We’re here to assist you every step of the way. Please don’t hesitate to
contact us and get more information.

The Vein Venter at Heartcare Associates of Connecticut

March is already here! That means we’re another step closer to warmer temps, being active outdoors, and welcoming new spring flowers.  With so much to look forward to, the last thing you want to worry about is not feeling comfortable in your own skin.

Unfortunately, many struggle this time of year due to unsightly varicose veins. Not just because of how they look, but also from the pain they cause.

About 23% of adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with varicose veins. Although varicose veins are common and often not dangerous, they can sometimes lead to more serious conditions.

Don’t let varicose veins hold you back! The good news is there are many options that can help diagnose and treat your varicose veins.

Do You Have Varicose Veins?

There are two common vein problems that often occur in the legs. These are varicose veins and telangiectasia (commonly called spider veins). Varicose veins are more prominent and have a blueish hue to them. In comparison, spider veins are smaller blood vessels and usually don’t hurt.

Varicose veins are often found on the calf and inner leg. Even varicose veins that are less noticeable can be as, or more, painful than more prominent ones.

If you suffer from varicose veins then you may have swelling in your legs, aching pain, itching on or around the bulging veins, and a feeling of heaviness in your legs and feet. You might also notice that the pain and discomfort increase when you’ve been sitting or standing for a long time —and especially painful by the end of the day!

What Causes Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are the result of weak or damaged superficial vein valves and walls. When the valves malfunction it causes a build-up of blood in the vein and they become raised or swollen.

Women are more at risk to develop varicose veins. This is related to estrogen and other hormones related to pregnancy and menstrual cycles that affect the body’s tissue. In addition, lifestyle, age, and family history play a part in their development.

Regardless of how or why you have varicose veins, it’s important to seek professional help in treating them. If left untreated, varicose veins have a tendency to worsen over time. Leaving you feeling even more held back in your daily life.

How to Treat Your Varicose Veins

To find out what treatment is best for your situation, the first step is getting a diagnosis. A medical professional can determine what treatment and therapies are right for you. This may include some lifestyle adjustments or simple practices such as exercise or elevation.

In many cases, multiple therapies are suggested in order to best treat the underlying causes of varicose veins. At HeartCare Associates of CT, our board-certified staff is well-equipped to create an individualized plan just for you!

Get That Spring in Your Step!

It’s time to soak up the sun and show off those shorts! We’re here to help. Get back that spring in your step with advanced healing for your varicose veins.

Get started today with one of our many safe and effective vein treatments. These are non-surgical techniques that we offer right in our office.

To learn more, call HeartCare today for a free consultation. Remember, at HeartCare, we don‘t only care about your heart – we care about you!

A Valentine’s Gift for Your Heart

In February, it’s common to run into heart-shaped boxes, greeting cards, and balloons. We often think of this month as a time to share our love for the special people in our lives. But as you take time to celebrate loved ones, it’s also an important reminder to care for your heart.

American Heart Month takes place every February and is a reminder to protect your heart by acting now. About 80% of cardiovascular diseases are preventable according to the CDC. This includes heart disease and stroke. 

Does heart disease run in your family? Don’t wait, check on the health of your heart now. Early detection can actually stop heart disease in its tracks. So you can get back to enjoying your time with the ones you love.

Hidden Health Threat

Even if you feel perfectly healthy, a quick test could reveal potential heart health concerns happening beneath the surface. Many people are completely unaware that they have high cholesterol and/or blood pressure – two common heart conditions. Luckily, consistently monitoring your heart can help you discover these conditions early, before they become a more serious problem.

There are a few factors to consider when addressing your heart health. This includes having your blood taken to test your cholesterol levels. If you have a history of high cholesterol or it runs in your family, you may need to have this checked more often.

Another common concern is high blood pressure (also known as hypertension). It usually has no symptoms, so it’s important to have your medical team test you at least every two years. You may need to be checked more often if you have high blood pressure or it runs in your family

Simple Solutions

The good news is that minor changes to your diet and exercise are often all that is needed to improve your heart’s health. Your doctor can provide you with healthy alternatives and habits that can get your heart back on track. You may also be prescribed medications to reduce your risk of heart disease and protect your health.

Practices such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough sleep, and managing stress, can all lead to a healthier heart. Your medical team can assist you in addressing one or more of these aspects as needed.

Keep Your Heart Happy

February isn’t just a month to celebrate with chocolates, roses, and teddy bears. It’s also a reminder to keep your heart happy through regular preventative check-ups. You can make your month extra rewarding by scheduling a quick exam today. We accept all forms of insurance!

Have questions? We’re here to assist you every step of the way. Please don’t hesitate to contact us and get more information.