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Happy Holidays!

I initiated this blog early in 2020 in anticipation of starting a new cardiology practice at Pima Heart & Vascular. I had always thought it would be fun to write about topics covering the breadth of problems that arise in the field of cardiovascular medicine and this career transition seemed like a good opportunity to achieve that aim. I hope…

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What Should I Bring to My Cardiology Visit?

This week, I want to take a break from our series on cardiac disorders and turn to a more general and practical discussion of how you can get the most out of a cardiology consultation. Let’s assume you’ve made an appointment to see a new cardiologist—perhaps you’ve been having chest pain. Or shortness of breath. Or palpitations. Or you have had a cardiologist previously…

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PFOs: What To Do?

Last week, we talked about PFO’s—what they are and how we find them. This week we’ll turn to a discussion of what we do when we find one. Because PFO’s are common and the vast majority of people have no consequences from their presence, we don’t generally close them. It is controversial whether patients with an asymptomatic PFO should take aspirin or…

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PFOs: The Most Common Hole in the Heart

What does it mean to have a “hole” in your heart? Is blood leaking out? How can you have this without knowing about it? A hole in the heart means that there is a connection between two chambers that shouldn’t be there. A patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a connection between the right and left atria. Blood normally passes from…

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Aortic Aneurysms: The Danger of Dilation

This week we turn our attention to a problem outside the heart—aortic aneurysms. An aneurysm is a focal enlargement or bulging of a blood vessel.  It comes from the Greek word meaning “dilation.” In fact, radiology reports will often use the term “dilated” to refer to a vessel that is larger than normal, but not large enough or focal enough to use…

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Valvular Heart Disease: All the Rest

In the last two weeks, I have discussed the two most common valvular problems that we cardiologists see—AS and MR. This week I’ll give a quick overview of the other valvular problems that we can encounter. First of all, the aortic valve can also develop regurgitation. Called “AR,” aortic regurgitation, when severe, can lead to heart enlargement, shortness of breath, chest pain,…

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Mitral Regurgitation: A “Leaky Valve”

We turn this week to another valvular problem: mitral regurgitation. Unlike aortic stenosis, where the valve doesn’t open all the way, in mitral regurgitation (usually abbreviated “MR”) the mitral valve (sitting between the left atrium and left ventricle) doesn’t close completely, allowing blood to regurgitate backward. Physicians often describe this condition to their patients as having a “leaky valve.” The causes of…

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Aortic Stenosis: Narrowing of the Gateway

Last week we introduced the concept of valvular heart disease, starting with a discussion of how valves in the heart work, and then touching briefly on how they malfunction. Today we’ll be talking about one of the most common forms of valvular dysfunction: aortic stenosis (generally abbreviated “AS”). AS is increasingly prevalent as we age, though it is not by any…

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Heart Valves: The Heart’s Gateways

This week I’d like to start a series of blogs relating to valvular heart disease, starting with a description of the heart valves and how they work. We have four valves in our hearts and their purpose is to keep blood moving in a single direction. They open during one phase of the cardiac cycle (systole or diastole, depending on which valve…

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