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Happy New Year!

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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COVID-19: The Beginning of the End?

As 2020 winds down, I know that we all wish it a good riddance.  Our country has been devastated by racial and political strife, unearthly wildfires, and the scourge of COVID-19.  If there is a bright spot in this dreadful year, it is that two vaccines are now being rolled out—one from Pfizer last week and one from Moderna coming…

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“Blood Thinners”: Popular Misconceptions

Physicians often use non-medical words to describe medications or medical conditions.  One of the most widely used is the term “blood thinners.”  This generally encompasses a variety of drugs that alter the tendency of blood to clot, and includes antiplatelet agents and anticoagulants (also known as antithrombotics).  We call these agents blood thinners because—in decreasing the tendency of blood to…

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Right Ventricular Problems: The Overlooked Pump

We have spent a lot of time over the last several blogs on heart failure.  Virtually all of these discussions have focused on left ventricular heart failure.  What about right ventricular heart failure?  Yes, this ventricle can fail, too.  But many of the most common cardiovascular problems—coronary heart disease, hypertension, valvular heart disease, atrial fibrillation—create dysfunction either exclusively or predominantly…

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Cardiomyopathy (Part III): When the Heart Muscle is Sick

In the last two blogs, we have discussed what a cardiomyopathy is, giving particular attention to the categories of dilated and hypertrophic.  This week we’ll complete our review of cardiomyopathies with a look at the restrictive category. While dilated and hypertrophic cardiomyopathies are defined by anatomic features (an enlarged heart chamber in the first and enlarged walls in the second),…

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Cardiomyopathy (Part II): When the Heart Muscle is Sick

Last week we discussed what a cardiomyopathy is, including the three categories of dilated, hypertrophic and restrictive.  We then focused on types of dilated cardiomyopathies, along with some discussion about their treatment.  Today I’ll continue our review of cardiomyopathies by focusing on hypertrophic. Whereas a dilated cardiomyopathy is defined by the heart chamber being enlarged, a hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is defined…

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Cardiomyopathy: When the Heart Muscle is Sick

Several months ago, I devoted a couple blogs to the subject of CHF (congestive heart failure).  At the time, I discussed the differences between heart failure from systolic dysfunction (problems with the heart contracting/pumping) and that caused by diastolic dysfunction (problems during the relaxation phase of the cardiac cycle).  These are clinical syndromes and are brought on by a variety…

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Why Are My Ankles Swollen?

Hardly a day goes by that I am not asked that question by a patient.  The causes are numerous, but most people’s biggest fear is that they have CHF (congestive heart failure).  Indeed, peripheral edema (edema fluid causing swelling of the extremities, usually the legs) is certainly seen with CHF, and probably is its most visible manifestation.  There, it is…

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