Cholesterol is a fatty material that gets absorbed into the system and goes to the liver. It contributes to plaque formation in the arteries throughout the body. Your liver makes almost all the cholesterol your body needs and some people have less cholesterol receptors causing an increase in cholesterol.
LDL is the bad cholesterol, because it easily becomes stuck in the walls of the blood vessels. You can remember this as “L” stands for Lousy.
HDL is the good cholesterol. It finds the LDL cholesterol and helps rid the body of this bad cholesterol. You can remember this as “H” stands for Happy.
A desirable total cholesterol is less than 200mg/dL. Very little coronary artery disease has been found in populations with total cholesterol of less than 180mg/dL.
LDL cholesterol should be less than 130mg/dL, and below 100mg/dL in a diabetics population and patients with coronary artery disease or previous stroke.
HDL cholesterol should be above 40mg/dL.
Triglycerides should be 150mg/dL or less.
Lifestyle modification is the foundation of any cardiovascular program. Proper diet and exercise will improve overall well being, cholesterol parameters, blood pressure, and body weight.
Some patients require medications. Some of these medications called statins have lowered the incidence of myocardial infarction, stroke, and cardiovascular death. Statin drugs have become essential to the prevention of cardiac events and stroke.
The American Heart Association uses a low fat low cholesterol diet. This information can be taken out of any library or purchased in any book store. The patient should undergo at least 40 minutes of continuous aerobic exercise four times per week.
High blood pressure is the resistance that the heart has to overtake to pump blood around body. A normal blood pressure should be less than 120/80. Both the upper number (systolic) and lower number (diastolic) are important parameters.
Lifestyle modification including regular aerobic exercise, weight loss, a low salt, and a low fat diet can improve the blood pressure. Some patients require the help of a nutritionist to improve their diet. Always look at labels when shopping to stay aware of the sodium content.
Some patients require medication for reduction of blood pressure.
Blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart attack, stroke, enlargement of the heart, and kidney failure.
Angina is a symptom that is caused by lack of oxygen supply to the heart. It can be characterized by chest pain, chest pressure, shortness of breath, neck pain, throat pain, shoulder pain, and/or arm pain. It is a sign that there is a blockage and that the heart is not receiving adequate oxygen.
A cardiac catheterization is a procedure done in the hospital that takes approximately 40 minutes. A catheter is placed through the groin or arm into the arteries of the heart. Pictures are taken to identify the presence of blockage in an artery. If the artery is significantly blocked then an angioplasty (balloon procedure) and a stent can be placed inside the artery to maintain patency.
A stress test is a procedure where the doctor can identify the presence of blockages in the arteries of the heart. This is a walking test. However when patients are unable to walk then a pharmacologic stress test can be done where medication is given to stress the heart. Then nuclear images are obtained to identify the possible presence of any blockage.
Bacteria is always present in the oral cavity. Dental work including cleaning and periodontal work can cause bacteria to enter the blood stream. This can cause infection of a leaky valve or calcified valve. Antibiotics are given one hour prior to dental work to prevent the occurence of an infection. The patients dentist will prescibe antibiotics fo these procedures which represent a risk for infection. Patients who undergo major surgery can get antibiotics during the operation. For patients that have gastrointestinal procedures the use of antibiotics is less clear. The individal gastroenterologist will decide if the procedure requires antibiotic pre-treatment.