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
start.
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.

Healthy Start to the New Year!

Want to make 2023 your healthiest year yet? The gift of a healthy lifestyle is one of the best things you can give to yourself this year.

If you’re tired of feeling stressed, having low energy, or getting sick easily, then we’ve got some tips to help boost your overall wellness. Start the new year out right by prioritizing your health and making manageable improvements to your daily life.

Ready to get started on improving your health? We’ve got some simple steps to get you started. Keep reading for our top 3 ways to improve your health in 2023.

1.  Want to Improve Your Health? Start Here…

Trying to make huge changes to your daily health habits can feel overwhelming at first. But there are some easy ways to get started. Begin by making it a priority to eat healthily and increase your physical activity this new year.

Healthy eating habits combined with staying active can lower your chances of developing serious illnesses such as kidney disease, heart disease, certain kinds of cancer, type 2 diabetes and more.

Including daily walks or other moderate exercises in your routine can make huge improvements to your health. In addition, focus on adding a variety of nutrient-rich foods into your diet such as vegetables, fruits, protein, and whole grains.

Don’t get discouraged if you struggle with maintaining these healthy practices at first. Planning your meals and setting specific goals for each day can better help you achieve them. Any improvement to your lifestyle is a win for your health!

1.  How Healthy Are You? Check With Your Physician

One of the ways to help your body stay healthy is to get regular check-ups with your physician. These kinds of preventative methods help you avoid future issues and can spot potential signs of illness in advance. This better ensures you receive the proper treatment before things escalate. At HeartCare Associates of Connecticut, LLC, we provide patients with our advanced technology for comprehensive Cardiovascular Services including non-invasive testing and Vein Center to support your healthier lifestyle. We can also help you set achievable goals for your diet and exercise.

1.  It’s Time to Manage Your Stress

Everyone experiences stress from time to time. Not all stress is necessarily bad, especially if it helps you to get out of a dangerous situation. However, long-term or chronic stress is known to cause health problems that can affect your immune, sleep, digestive, and cardiovascular systems — to name a few!

The continuous strain of stress on your body can also cause more serious health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Managing stress is an important goal to set as part of your daily practice in the new year.

Regular exercise is a great way to manage your stress. There are also a variety of relaxing activities such as meditation, breathing exercises, or muscle relaxation. We highly recommend seeking professional assistance if you find your stress to be overwhelming and affecting your daily life.

If left unchecked, stress can lead to mental disorders including anxiety and depression. Don’t let stress get the best of you this year. Act now and speak with your healthcare provider to receive the support you need for a safe and healthy 2023!

Ring in the New Year with a Fresh Start to Your Health!

Navigating your health in 2023 can feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone! We’re here every step of the way.

We hope these tips help you get started on reaching your goals and improving your health this year. If you’re looking for even more professional advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us and schedule your next appointment today!

Dehydration and Stroke: How Are They Linked?

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One of the biggest rules of thumb to follow for good health is to drink plenty of water every day. Drinking water can help prevent complications from dehydration — a condition that can lead to even more serious health problems, including a stroke.

At HeartCare Associates of Connecticut, LLC, our skilled cardiologists specialize in high-quality medical care for those who experience a stroke. We also take a proactive approach to lower your risk for stroke and other potentially life-threatening conditions.

What you need to know about strokes

A stroke occurs when there’s disruption in the flow of blood to your brain. You may experience a stroke if you have a blood clot that blocks an artery or if the blood vessels leading to your brain become narrow due to disease or aging.

When your brain lacks oxygen-rich blood, nerve cells can quickly begin to die. Without immediate medical intervention, your risk for severe mental and physical disabilities increases significantly. Many people also die every year due to stroke.

Causes of dehydration

Dehydration is a condition where you lose more fluids from your body than you take in. This loss of fluids interferes with your body’s ability to function properly.

You might be at risk for dehydration in general if you don’t drink water every day. Dehydration also occurs when you engage in physical activities like sports in hot weather or because of underlying health issues that cause persistent diarrhea or vomiting.

Children and older adults are more susceptible to dehydration because of a low water volume in their bodies. Older people may become easily dehydrated when they have minor illnesses or infections.

The link between dehydration and stroke

Being dehydrated affects your body in many ways. Without enough water in your system, your blood can become thick and may not circulate as well.

Narrowed blood vessels make it more difficult for the thickened blood to get to your brain and increase your risk for a stroke.

On the other side of the coin, people who stay well hydrated tend to recover from a stroke better than those who don’t drink enough fluids.

Stroke prevention tips

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend making important changes to your lifestyle now to reduce your risk factors for stroke. Stroke prevention tips include:

Drink enough water for your body type

Most people know to drink six to eight glasses of water a day to stay healthy. However, the amount of water you should be consuming should be based on your individual body.

To stay hydrated, you should divide your body weight by two and drink that much water in ounces each day. For instance, if you weigh 200 pounds, you should be drinking 100 ounces of water daily.

Manage your weight

Being overweight or obese can significantly increase your risk for stroke. Aim to reach a healthy body mass index (BMI) by eating a healthy diet of natural foods and eliminating sugar and processed foods as much as possible.  

Engage in physical activity

Get at least 30 minutes of exercise to stay fit. Take walks, play sports, or find another activity you like to do to keep your weight in a healthy range and keep your blood circulating.

Quit smoking

Smoking can narrow your blood vessels and make a stroke more likely. If you can’t quit smoking on your own, we can recommend a smoking cessation program that helps you kick the habit for good.

If you have risk factors for stroke, don’t put off an evaluation. Schedule a consultation online or call the HeartCare Associates of Connecticut, LLC office near you today.

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4 Ways to Prevent Hypertension

An estimated one in three Americans have hypertension (high blood pressure), and many aren’t even aware of their condition.

At HeartCare Associates of Connecticut, LLC, our skilled cardiovascular specialists offer comprehensive medical care to help you get your blood pressure under control. We also prioritize preventive services that can lower your risk for developing hypertension in the first place.

Why you have hypertension

Your blood pressure is a measurement of the force of your blood against the walls of your arteries. Prolonged pressure inside these blood vessels can ultimately lead to artery damage, heart disease, and even premature death.

There are many underlying factors linked to hypertension. In primary hypertension, your blood pressure increases gradually over time for no identifiable medical cause.

In secondary hypertension, a variety of lifestyle habits and medical conditions can contribute to elevated blood pressure, including:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Poor diet
  • Excess alcohol use
  • Kidney disease
  • Thyroid disorder

Stress can also play a role in secondary hypertension, especially if your daily stress levels are out of control.

When to get help for hypertension

Unfortunately, hypertension causes no symptoms in the early stages. This is why many people have high blood pressure and don’t know it.

Symptoms like dizziness and headaches can appear as the condition progresses. However, it’s likely that damage to your arteries and heart is already happening when you experience these symptoms.

Having routine blood pressure screenings is the only way to know how healthy your blood pressure is. You should have this noninvasive, painless test at your annual physical and regularly throughout the year, especially if you have a family history or other risk factors for hypertension.

Prevention tips for hypertension

Even if your current blood pressure levels are healthy, there are still things you should be doing to maintain good blood pressure.

Our heart experts at HeartCare Associates of Connecticut, LLC recommend starting with these four tips to prevent hypertension and its complications:

1. Follow a heart-healthy diet

A heart-healthy diet includes fresh, whole foods that are low in salt, sugars, and fat and high in fiber, such as beans, nuts, and fish. Try to eat plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and limit your intake of packaged and processed foods.

You can also look for guidance from the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) plan sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

You should also practice portion control and good nutrition, so you can lose excess pounds and maintain a healthy body weight in the long term.

2. Get up and move every day

A sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk for hypertension. Schedule time into your daily schedule to take a walk, work out at the gym, or stay engaged in other physical activities for at least 30 minutes.

Even if you’re limited in what you can do because of other medical issues, there are plenty of heart-healthy exercises you can do in a chair or your bed to maintain healthy blood pressure.

3. Quit smoking and other bad habits

While it can be hard to quit your addiction to nicotine, quitting smoking can greatly reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. Our providers can recommend smoking cessation tools that help you kick the habit for good.

You should also be mindful of how much alcohol you drink, and don’t take any drugs that aren’t under the supervision of a medical professional.

4. Learn to manage stress in a healthy way

Stress may be impacting your health more than you realize. More science-backed information is coming out about the immense health benefits that mindful practices like meditation and breathwork have on the body.

Incorporating stress reduction strategies into your daily life can not only provide ongoing stress relief — you can also reap benefits like improved overall health and happiness.

If you need help managing hypertension, call the HeartCare Associates of Connecticut, LLC office near you or book an appointment online today.

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Why Do My Leg Veins Hurt?

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The veins in your legs have a difficult job. Every day they must fight against the force of gravity to move blood from the lower half of your body back to your heart. When your veins aren’t functioning properly, it can cause pain and other complications that can put your cardiovascular health at risk.

At HeartCare Associates of Connecticut, LLC, our cardiovascular specialists offer diagnostic testing services on-site to assess your leg vein health. If you’re experiencing pain, it’s important that you get a prompt diagnosis and the treatment you need to improve your vein function.

Why pain develops in your leg veins

Healthy veins carry blood to your heart with the help of muscle contractions. Inside your veins are small valves that ensure blood flows only in one direction.

When these valves are weak or not working correctly, they can allow blood to flow backwards. Blood can pool inside your vein and cause the vessel to enlarge. Enlargement in the small veins is known as spider veins.

Enlargement of bigger veins describes varicose veins. These veins tend to bulge out from under the surface of your skin. They can also feel hot to the touch and eventually cause pain.

Another source of leg vein pain is deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This condition develops when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of your legs. You may be at increased risk for DVT if you have underlying medical conditions like an inflammatory disease or a blood clotting disorder.

What to do about vein pain

If you have occasional discomfort in the veins of your legs, you might find some relief by walking around or elevating your legs above your heart when resting.

If your vein pain is sudden or severe, it can be a warning sign of a blood clot. You should schedule an evaluation with our team at HeartCare Associates of Connecticut, LLC if you have leg pain that you can’t treat on your own.

We offer diagnostic imaging tests to assess the flow of blood in the veins of your legs and identify what’s triggering your symptoms. Using the results of your testing, our providers customize a treatment plan to relieve your pain and its underlying cause.

Our team can also address varicose veins if you’re unhappy with the appearance of your legs because of the bulging, twisted veins.

Treatment options for damaged leg veins

There are several ways we can treat the conditions that cause pain in your leg veins. One option is to take blood-thinning medications to make it easier for blood to flow throughout your body. You might need this type of medication if you have or are at risk for having blood clots.

Other vein care treatments we offer include:

Radiofrequency ablation (RA)

Radiofrequency ablation therapy uses radio waves to heat and destroy varicose leg veins. Blood reroutes to nearby, healthy veins.

Venefit™

Venefit is an endovenous catheter ablation technology that uses radiofrequency energy to destroy damaged veins.

VenaSeal™

VenaSeal uses a medical glue to close damaged, enlarged veins.

Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy involves injections of chemical agent into damaged veins. The chemical irritates the nerve and ultimately causes it to collapse.

Ambulatory phlebectomy

Ambulatory phlebectomy is a surgery to remove damaged veins through very small incisions.

Laser therapy

Laser therapy uses precision lasers to break up spider veins, so they are less visible on your skin.

To lower your risk for problem veins in your legs, our team may also recommend compression stockings, which keep blood moving back to your heart. We also offer topical creams that soothe tired legs and keep them looking young and healthy.

To schedule a diagnostic evaluation for vein pain in your legs, call the HeartCare Associates of Connecticut, LLC office near you or book an appointment online today.

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How to Plan a Diabetes-Friendly Meal

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Making healthy food choices isn’t always easy, but if you have diabetes, it’s essential that you plan ahead.

At HeartCare Associates of Connecticut, LLC, our team of physicians offer complete diabetes care. Not only can we ensure you have the medications you need to control diabetes, but we can also help you make the necessary lifestyle and diet changes you need to stay in good health.

Understanding diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that develops when your body can’t process the sugar (glucose) from your diet correctly. Typically, your body produces the hormone insulin to convert sugar into the energy your body needs to function.

When you have Type 1 diabetes, your body doesn’t make insulin to support this process. People with Type 2 diabetes can make insulin, but not enough to control blood sugar levels. Your body may also not be using the insulin it produces efficiently.

Having high blood sugar levels for an extended period of time can ultimately lead to serious health complications, including nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy), vision loss, and even premature death.

Why what you eat matters

When you’re diabetic, it’s important that you limit the amount of sugar you eat in your daily diet to prevent spikes in your blood glucose levels.

You also need to make the right diet choices to ensure you maintain a healthy body weight and to lower your risk for heart disease and other complications of diabetes.

While those with Type 1 diabetes will need daily insulin to control their condition, they still need to eat a well-balanced diet to prevent high blood sugar levels.

If you have Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes (a condition where your blood sugar levels are high but not high enough to be considered diabetes), you may be able to control your condition without medication. We can help you create a diet and exercise plan that regulates your blood sugar levels naturally.

Planning diabetes-friendly meals

Your diabetes diet should include fresh foods that are rich in nutrients but low in calories and fat. Ideally, you should incorporate as many vegetables, fruits, and whole grains as possible into your diet to keep your blood sugar levels stable.

You should also eat heart-healthy foods like fish, avocados, nuts, and low-fat dairy to lower your risk for heart disease and stroke that diabetes can cause. Eating these foods can also make it easier to lose weight and maintain your weight loss results in the long term.

In addition to choosing healthy foods, you also need to pay attention to when you eat. Missing meals can cause changes in your blood sugar levels that create complications.

We recommend that you eat three meals a day, paying attention to your portion size. Regular meals help your body use insulin more efficiently, so you can avoid blood sugar highs and lows.

What not to include in a diabetes diet

Certain foods can not only complicate your diabetes, but they can also increase your risk for heart disease and other chronic health issues.

Foods you should avoid adding to your diabetes diet include:

  • Sodium
  • Trans fats
  • Saturated fats
  • Cholesterol

Learn how to read food labels, so you can make better dietary choices when meal planning. Be aware that a lot of processed products contain high amounts of sodium and unhealthy fats, even if they are marketed as “healthy.”

Our providers can work with you on a nutrition plan that incorporates the right foods into your daily diet and teach you how to measure out your food portions. While the task can seem daunting at first, the more you practice the easier it will be to follow a diabetes-friendly diet.

Schedule a diabetes consultation to learn more meal planning tips. Call the HeartCare Associates of Connecticut, LLC office nearest to you or book an appointment online today.

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