Doctor Answers Common Questions About Heart Health | The Spectrum

Doctor Answers Common Questions About Heart Health | The Spectrum

By: Kristy Ann Pike,

Valley View Medical Center opened the area's first-ever heart clinic this month, and welcomed cardiologist Dr. Aarush Manchanda as medical director.

Here are Dr. Manchanda's answers to common questions about heart health:

How do you know if your chest pains are a heart attack?

It's a good question, since heart attack, heartburn or indigestion, gall bladder pains, lung clots and a host of other ailments can all present with a similar type of chest pain.

Even a physician may not be able to determine what's causing your chest pain without running some tests like blood work or ultrasound of the heart (echocardiogram or ECG). In addition, severe blockages in the arteries of the heart from cholesterol deposits can cause chest pains without causing heart attack. Physicians call this a "near heart attack."

Can blood work and ECG always identify if chest pains are coming from severe blockages in the heart arteries (angina) in people not having a heart attack?

No. You need other special tests, including stress tests, a CT (computer tomography) scan of the heart or a more invasive procedure, like heart catheterization.

Can you find severe blockages in the heart arteries without going through an invasive procedure like heart catheterization?

Using cardiac CT, doctors can identify the degree of narrowing or blockages of the arteries in just minutes. If the blockages are severe, we recommend heart catheterization to fix them with balloon, stents or bypass surgery.

Mild to moderate blockages in the arteries need aggressive lifestyle changes with strict cholesterol control to avoid future heart attacks.

CT scan of the heart has recently emerged as the most rapid and cost-effective tool in evaluation of chest pain in the emergency room. Using a cardiac CT, we can get a good three-dimensional look at all of the organs in the chest. Lung clots, tearing of the big arteries of the chest (aortic dissection), hiatal hernias and reflux can all be simultaneously diagnosed if arteries look good.

This level of certainty is important when patients show up in the emergency department. Without it, treatment for heart patients can be delayed, or patients may be sent for unnecessary advanced cardiac care when what they need is antacids or treatment for an inflamed gall bladder.

What is the difference between invasive and non-invasive cardiology?

Non-invasive cardiologists diagnose heart problems using advanced tools like echocardiogram, cardiac CT, stress tests, cardiac MRI and nuclear medicine. They also help patients control blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol levels and monitor cardiac rehabilitation for patients recovering from heart failure, heart attack, bypass or valve surgeries.

Non-invasive cardiologists do not perform heart catheterization or place stents and pacemakers and they do not do heart surgery. Instead, they provide "primary cardiac care" - diagnosis and monitoring for all conditions related to the heart.

The heart clinic at Valley View will provide comprehensive non-invasive care. The hospital will celebrate the opening of the new clinic with an open house for the public on July 27 from 4 to 6 p.m.

Living Well represents collaboration between healthcare professionals, The Foundation of Dixie Regional Medical Center - a not-for-profit hospital, and The Spectrum. Contact 251-2108 for more information.