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Cardiac Wellness

June 19, 2015

Cardiac Wellness

Spread the word America                  

By Bridgitte Broxton  FNP-C, CDE, CWCN

Are you aware that February was national heart awareness month? Beginning with February 6, “Go Red for Women” day, the entire month has been dedicated to increasing the awareness of heart disease for both men and women. The first Friday each February is our special day to bring attention to the staggering   fact that  each year 1 in 3 women die of heart disease and stroke. The first National Wear Red Day was actually in 2003.  On this day, women wear red dresses which symbolize their strength in unity, Since then many strides have been made in increasing awareness about heart disease in both men and women. The majority of Americans are diagnosed with a heart attack because they present themselves to the Emergency room or a physician’s office after experiencing symptoms. Yet statistics show that many older adults have silent heart attacks because subtle symptoms get dismissed for something else like stress or gas.

The American Heart Association strives to educate especially women on silent symptoms of a heart attack or stroke.  The campaign for leading healthy lifestyles , which incorporate regular physical activity, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, low in fat, processed foods and red meat. The aim is to prevent common risk factors, such as hypertension, chronic insomnia and weight gain. 

Approximately two thirds of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. While some women have no symptoms, others experience angina, pain in the Neck, jaw, throat pain or pain in the upper abdomen or back. Since physicians cannot rely exclusively on patients experiencing symptoms to make the diagnosis of coronary heart disease, they must rely on screening tests and diagnostic tests to show disease before the onset of a heart attack. Practitioners also look for key risk factors such as: high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking. Additionally, other comorbidities such as diabetes, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use.

We consulted Dr. Babar Shareef for his expertise in the subject matter as a Cardiologist. He graduated from Indira Gandi Medical College in 1986.  He is Board Certified in Cardiology as well as Internal Medicine. He has hospital privileges at both Lawnwood Regional Medical Center and Indian River Memorial Hospital.  Dr. Shareef explains that there are several common screening tests that are done to assess for coronary artery disease. These include a stress test, echocardiogram,  electrocardiogram,  cardiac calcium scoring test, as well as a cardiac catheterization. The cardiac catheterization is invasive and so it is done when a patient has symptoms of cardiac disease or is high risk for a heart attack.  Specifically, Dr Shareef states “A  cardiac catheterization is recommended when the patient has an abnormal stress test or if a patient experiences symptoms such as chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath with no relief”.  Essentially the cardiac cath shows images of how well your heart is functioning. The echocardiogram shows the size, structure, and movement of the heart.  It is especially useful in showing images of the heart valves, the walls of the chambers, and the septum. These images can detect abnormalities in the function of the heart.  A cardiac calcium score is a special test that measures the amount of calcified plaque on the walls of the arteries in the heart. Interestingly, he adds that an EKG, stress test and a cardiac cauterization can all show if a person has had a silent heart attack. Dr. Shareef advises the following for patients with a known irregular heart beat,” Decrease caffeine increase water intake to stay well hydrated and avoid over the counter medications if possible”.

If you have any additional questions for Dr. Shareef, here is his contact information:

2215 Nebraska Avenue Suite 2E

Fort pierce, Florida 34950

772-461-6812 (P) 772-461-6816 (F)



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