One in three American adults have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Another one in three is at risk of developing high blood pressure. Of those with high blood pressure, nearly half do not have their blood pressure under control. Many people with high blood pressure have no symptoms, even if their blood pressure reaches dangerously high levels, which is why it is so important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. High blood pressure may also be a sign of a more serious underlying condition, such as thyroid problems, kidney problems or cardiovascular disease.
Like high blood pressure, high cholesterol often has no symptoms. However, it can lead to the buildup of fatty deposits in your blood vessels, causing them to become hardened, narrowed or closed, putting you at greater risk of a heart attack, heart failure or stroke. A simple blood test can be used to measure the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, or fats in your blood.
During mitral valve prolapse, blood that should flow into the left atrium (upper chamber) leaks back into the left ventricle (lower chamber) causing an irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain.
Stenosis is the narrowing of blood vessels that results from atherosclerosis. This can lead to restricted or completely blocked blood flow.
Depending on your symptoms, your cardiologist may recommend any number of treatments including medication, catheterization, and in some cases surgery.
When a blood vessel is significantly or totally blocked, you may need surgery to bypass the affected area. In most cases your doctor will harvest a healthy blood vessel from your leg, arm or chest. However, in some cases a donor or artificial blood vessel may be used. This healthy blood vessel is then grafted to the main artery, rerouting blood flow around the blocked or narrowed area.
Minimally invasive and open surgeries are also used to treat aneurysms, either by using clips to prevent blood from flowing into the aneurysm, or by placing a stent or graft, inside the artery.
Your doctor can thread a small, flexible tube called a catheter through the blood vessels in your arm, leg, chest, neck or other affected area through a small incision. In a procedure known as an angioplasty, a tiny balloon on the tip of the catheter is expanded inside your artery, widening a narrowed area. The catheter can also be used to place stents, which are spring-like tubes that keep your blood vessels open or reinforce an aneurysm. These minimally invasive procedures are often used to successfully treat many forms of cardiovascular disease, and can help prevent the need for open surgery.
If you have a significant buildup of plaque in a major artery, such as the femoral or carotid artery, your doctor may recommend surgically removing this fatty, waxy material.
What does an endarterectomy do?
Compared with an angioplasty, an endarterectomy is a more permanent solution for restoring blood flow through severely narrowed arteries, and helps avoid the risk of blood clot formation around a stent.
Many patients with cardiovascular disease have mild symptoms, or do not display any symptoms at all. In cases where blood flow is not significantly restricted, your doctor will recommend the best possible medications to help reduce your blood pressure or cholesterol, along with regular monitoring and heart-healthy lifestyle changes.
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If you experience symptoms such as swelling or pain in your arms or legs, have a family history of cardiovascular disease, or your primary care physician recommends that you see a specialist due to high blood pressure, high cholesterol or any other cardiovascular condition, schedule an appointment with an Einstein heart specialist today.
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