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What to Expect When a Cardiovascular Doctor Orders a Holter Monitor

When a cardiovascular doctor recommends Holter monitoring, many patients are unfamiliar with the test.  Understanding what to expect can greatly reduce patient anxiety about this procedure.

What Exactly is a Holter Monitor?

A Holter monitor is a device patients wear to track heart rhythm.  Test results are important tools in helping cardiologists make diagnoses.  According to the Mayo Clinic, the test is noninvasive and painless.

This portable device is a type of electrocardiogram (ECG).  The American Heart Association indicates that it is roughly the size of a small camera and records heart activity for 24 or more hours.

Changes in an ECG can signal various cardiac conditions.  A Holter monitor records electrical impulses that coordinate heart contractions.  The information it collects shows:

  • How fast a heart is beating
  • A steady or an irregular beat rhythm
  • Timing and strength of impulses as they travel through the heart

Why Cardiologists Order It

A standard ECG in a doctor’s office only records heart activity at a single point in time.  Holter monitoring allows cardiologists to evaluate heartbeats over an extended period.

The data collected provides physicians with information such as:

  • Whether current medications are effective
  • Why a patient experiences symptoms like dizziness, feeling faint, or sensing a skipped heartbeat or a racing heart
  • Whether the heart is getting a sufficient supply of oxygen

Doctors order this test when symptoms such as low blood pressure, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, and heart palpitations persist, but a resting ECG cannot detect a precise reason, Johns Hopkins Medicine reports.  Other common reasons include evaluating chest pain not duplicated with exercise testing, assessing the risk of future cardiac issues, monitoring heart rate after a heart attack, and determining whether an implanted pacemaker is effective.

The Monitoring Process

At a patient's appointment, a staff member will ask that jewelry and any other objects that could interfere with the test be removed.  The patient removes clothing from the waist up and changes into a gown so that a technician can affix electrodes to the chest.

It is sometimes necessary to shave to clip hair so that the electrodes will adhere properly.  The technician also attaches electrodes to the abdomen.  Wires connect them to the Holter device, which patients wear over the shoulder, around the waist, or clipped to a pocket or belt.  Since the device operates on batteries, it is important that patients carry extra batteries and know how to change them.  Patients cannot swim, shower, or bathe while wearing the monitor.

After getting instructions, a patient returns to normal activities unless the physician advises otherwise.  Monitoring requires keeping a patient diary of activities and symptoms noted that will be matched to the data collected.  At the end of the test, the individual returns to the practice to have electrodes removed.

 

5 Types of Venous Disease

Your veins do something amazing. Everyday, they fight against gravity, pumping blood up to your heart. Given the forces working against their veins, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that many people develop some form of venous disease or another. Vein disease develops when your veins have difficulty pumping the blood back to the heart. The walls of the veins might be weak or the valves damaged. Get to know a few types of common vein problems.

Examples of Vein Disease

Varicose Veins or Spider Veins

When you think of vein problems, spider veins or varicose veins are probably what comes to mind first. That shouldn't be much of a surprise, since about half of the population has or will have varicose or spider veins, according to the Office on Women's Health. Varicose veins form when the valves in the veins don't work as they should. Blood is allowed to flow backwards down the legs, causing the veins to bulge and twist.

Spider veins form when there is a backup of blood in the tiny vessels near the skin. Usually, spider veins are much smaller than varicose veins. They can also develop on the face and can form as a result of sun exposure.

Superficial Venous Reflux

Another common problem in the veins is superficial venous reflux. It's also known as venous insufficiency. When a person has venous reflux, the blood doesn't make its way up the legs to the heart. Instead, it pools in the veins, causing swelling, darkening of the skin and a feeling of pain or pressure in the legs. Venous insufficiency is often connected to varicose veins, but usually the symptoms it causes are much worse.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, develops when a blood clot forms deep in a person's veins, usually in the legs. Several things can put a person at an increased risk for developing DVT, including an inherited blood clotting disorder, hormonal birth control and sitting still for long periods of time, such as on a flight.

Some people with DVT don't have any symptoms. Others might have pain or swelling in the affected leg. The major concern with DVT is that the clot will come loose and travel to the lung, causing a pulmonary embolism, a potentially life threatening problem. For that reason, treating the clot early is usually the best course of action. A doctor might prescribe blood thinners or other medications to reduce the clot or compression stockings to help with swelling.

At Premier Heart and Vein Care, Dr. Ken Stevens offers patients with vein disease a variety of treatment options. To learn more about vein problems and the options for treatment, call 1-805-979-4777 to schedule a consultation today.

 

Spider Vein Treatment Options

For most individuals considering treatment, spider veins are a cosmetic rather than a medical issue.  Understanding the basics of this vascular disorder and the spider vein treatment options available can help reduce patient stress.

Overview of Spider Veins

Spider veins are visible signs of venous insufficiency.  According to the American College of Phlebology, patients with this underlying vascular disorder are likely to experience:

  • Feelings of heaviness in a leg
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Swollen legs
  • Leg cramping
  • Leg fatigue
  • Itching

Spider veins get their name from their web-like appearance.  These small vessels are usually red, blue, or purple and typically develop on a patient’s legs or face.  They are similar to varicose veins but are smaller and usually closer to the surface of the skin.

These vessels form when veins previously too tiny to be seen stretch because of defective valves that allow blood to leak backward and pool.  As the veins expand, they become visible as streaks or clusters. 

Physicians recognize quite a few causes of spider veins, the Cleveland Clinic reports.  The most common include:

  • Family history
  • Growing older
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Hormonal shifts
  • Prolonged standing or sitting
  • Vein injury

Choices for Spider Vein Treatment

Treatment for spider veins is available on an outpatient basis from a physician who specializes in vascular problems.  The goal of some treatments is preventing the condition from worsening or lessening the chances that new spider veins will develop.  Other therapies eliminate existing veins.  Depending on the severity of each case, a patient might undergo a mixture of treatment options. 

The three categories of treatment include:

  • Conservative measures often require lifestyle modifications like losing weight, avoiding tight clothing and shoes, wearing compression stockings, getting more exercise, elevating the legs whenever possible, following good skin hygiene, and not crossing the legs.
  • Sclerotherapy is the most common method of eliminating spider veins.  Doctors sometimes also use it to treat small varicose veins.  Many doctors combine the technique with ultrasound for precision.  Using a small needle, the physician injects a substance called a sclerosant into each targeted vessel.  The sclerosant irritates the walls of the vein, causing them to become sticky and the vein to close and eventually disappear.  Healthy vessels assume the workload of the destroyed vein.  The number of sessions required depends on the size, number, and location of the vessels targeted for elimination.  With the exception of strenuous activities, patients are usually able to resume their normal routines the following day.
  • Laser and light therapy use heat to shrink and eliminate spider veins.  Several sessions might be required for laser treatment.  Pulse-light therapy relies on sending out a spectrum of light and is useful for selectively shrinking spider veins, vascular birthmarks, and certain small varicose veins.

No treatment to eliminate veins can prevent new ones from developing.  For this reason, some patients return for periodic treatment.

 

 

Choosing the Right Type of Vein Treatment

Upload: October 1, 2015

Many different types of vein treatment are available. Depending on the nature of your condition, some forms of treatment may be more effective than others. Below is a guide to help you choose the right type of vein treatment for your condition.

Treatments for Spider Veins

Spider veins are small dilated blood vessels that can be located anywhere on the body. Because they are close to the surface of the skin, they are usually visible. Because spider veins can be embarrassing, many people seek treatment.

If your spider veins are not too large, widespread or serious, you may be able to improve the condition through conservative treatments, such as losing weight, elevating your legs, wearing special socks and avoiding long periods of standing. However, in many cases, spider veins must be treated with sclerotherapy. When you undergo sclerotherapy, the doctor will inject a medication under your skin that causes spider veins to collapse. Depending on the severity of the case, sclerotherapy may be performed with or without ultrasound guidance.

Treatments for Varicose Veins

A varicose vein is a vein located near the surface of the skin that has become enlarged and twisted. These veins are easily visible, and they may also be painful. As with spider veins, many people seek treatment in order to eliminate embarrassment and discomfort.

Conservative treatments, such as special socks, walking and weight loss, may be effective in the treatment of mild cases of varicose veins. However, this condition often requires more invasive treatments. Options for treating varicose veins include:

  • Ambulatory microphlebectomy
  • Endovenous laser therapy
  • Non-thermal vein ablation

Both ambulatory microphlebectomy are minimally invasive surgical treatment options. Ambulatory microphlebectomy involves the surgical removal of unsightly varicose veins, while endovenous laser therapy involves the use of a laser to reroute blood out of abnormal veins.

For patients that want to treat their varicose veins without surgery, non-thermal vein ablation may be the best choice. During this procedure, the physician uses ultrasound guidance to feed a catheter into problematic veins. He or she then uses the catheter to inject medication into the vein that causes it to collapse.

Choosing the Right Treatment

If you are suffering from spider veins and/or varicose veins, skilled vascular surgeons can help you choose the vein treatment that's best for your situation. For treatment advice, contact the  vein doctors at the Premier Vein Institute today.

What to Bring to Your Appointment with Your Cardiovascular Doctor

Going to a cardiovascular doctor can be intimidating if it is your first time, however, you do increase your chances of living a healthier, longer life by having a problem detected early and getting it treated. Before you show up you your appointment, there are some things that you will need to bring with you.

Medications

Bring a list of all your medications. Write or type them down including the dose, frequency, and name. Jot down any allergies you have to medications as well. Having this written down will help ensure your medical record is updated accurately.

Healthcare Providers

Write down a list of the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all healthcare providers you have and the condition you are being treated for. This will allow the cardiologist to communicate with the other care providers if needed.

Family Medical History

Bring along your family history. Include any information regarding heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or other important medical history you have in your family.

Your Medical History

Bring along your medical history as well. Be sure to include any information on surgeries or medical procedures you might have including lab reports, MRIs and other diagnostic work-ups.

Other things to bring include:

  • Your referral, identification, and insurance card.
  • Your coinsurance or copayment for your diagnostic test or visit.
  • Your physician's written order for any diagnostic testing you are having done.
  • A copy of any lab results or cardiovascular test results that you obtained from your physician if they haven't already faxed that information to the cardiologist.
  • A list of all questions you might have for the doctor concerning your cardiac care.
  • A list of any current symptoms you are experiencing, even if you don’t think they are related to your heart.

You can also consider bringing a friend or family member who can be a “second set of ears and eyes”, when having your consultation with your San Luis Obispo, CA cardiovascular doctor.

You can consider your cardiologist to be a detrimental part of your health team. Utilize the time spent with him wisely and develop a good relationship with him. Keep in mind that any information you have that could be beneficial for your appointment is important. You never know if it could be the key to a diagnosis and treatment.

Don't leave anything out. Even though communication and information systems are improving, you are the most reliable contributor of your healthcare records. Make sure all information you provide is up-to-date and accurate. This will help the cardiologist give you the best care possible.

It is also a good idea to download patient forms, and have them completed before your appointment.

Make An Appointment With Your Local Vein Clinic

Make an appointment with your local heart and vein clinic today for preventative and diagnostic cardiovascular care, as well as treatment.  Cardiologists use state-of-the-art medical equipment and technology to accurately evaluate, diagnose, and  treat cardiovascular problems. Prepare to talk to a cardiovascular doctor and get the most out of your visit.

 

What to Expect from an Electrocardiogram at a Cardiovascular Center

One of the tests most often administered at a cardiovascular center is an electrocardiogram.  It provides lots of useful information in sports cardiology.  Many patients find an appointment less stressful when they understand the basics of this test and what to expect from it.

What an Electrocardiogram Does

Sometimes patients first hear about this procedure under one of its nicknames:  EKG or ECG.  The American Heart Association describes it as a test to measure electrical activity of a patient’s heartbeat.  This outpatient test is noninvasive and gives quick results.

Each time the heart beats, an electrical impulse, or wave, moves through the organ.  This triggers the heart muscle to squeeze and start pumping blood from the heart.

A physician utilizes an electrocardiogram to identify patterns among rhythms and heartbeats in order to diagnose various heart disorders.  A sports cardiology practice uses it as one tool to make sure potentially serious vascular and cardiac issues are identified as early as possible.

According to the Mayo Clinic, doctors most commonly use an EKG to find:

  • Arrhythmias (heart rhythm irregularities)
  • A link between coronary artery disease and a heart attack or chest pain
  • Problems with the structure of heart chambers
  • Evidence of a prior heart attack
  • How well current treatments like pacemakers are working

What to Expect at the Cardiovascular Center

EKGs require no special preparation.  Since some supplements and medications affect the outcome of the test, it is important for patients to disclose any they are taking.

After changing into an exam gown, a patient lies on a special table or bed.  The staff attaches 12 to 15 electrodes to the chest, legs, and arms.  These are sticky patches that adhere with tape or gel in order to conduct the electrical current of the heart.

A standard electrocardiogram takes only a few minutes.  During the test, a patient needs to avoid moving, shivering, or talking, any of which can distort results.  The equipment records as waves the impulses that cause the heart to beat.  The physician overseeing the test evaluates a printed version of these waves.

Since some heartbeat irregularities occur only periodically, a physician might not see them on a standard EKG and could recommend a specialized type of electrocardiogram:

  • Holter monitor.  An ambulatory monitor, it records rhythms for 24 hours.  While wearing a recording device operated by a battery, the patient keeps a symptom and activity diary.  The physician reviews it along with the recordings.
  • Event recorder.  This device allows patients to forward readings to a physician over a telephone line.  Similar to a Holter, it permits recording heart rhythm when symptoms actually occur.
  • Stress tests.  They involve riding a stationary bike or walking on a treadmill during an EKG.  They are particularly useful for heart problems that most frequently occur while exercising.

 

What to Expect from Sclerotherapy as a Spider Vein Treatment

For most patients, spider veins are a cosmetic issue.  These small red, blue, or purple vessels are annoying and can steal an individual’s self-confidence.  In recent years, sclerotherapy ranks as the foremost spider vein treatment, particularly when treating blood vessels in the leg.

Issues With Spider Veins

These flat vessels are abnormal but typically cause no serious health problems.  They most often appear on a patient’s legs or face.  They are significantly smaller than varicose veins, which have a raised, ropelike appearance and can cause medical complications.

Some doctors believe that a spider vein is a type of varicose vein.  Other physicians consider them a separate condition.  The UCLA School of Medicine indicates that the official name for these vessels, which resemble a spider’s web, is telangiectasias.  They also tend to appear closer to the surface of the skin than varicose veins do.

Common causes include:

  • A family history
  • Gaining weight
  • Pregnancy
  • Medication that result in shifts in hormones
  • Standing or sitting for long periods

Doctors treat spider veins on an outpatient basis.

How Physicians Use Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is a process of injecting a spider vein or a small varicose vein with a special solution or foam called a sclerosing agent or sclerosant.  It is a non-invasive procedure with few complications.  A physician injects the agent into each targeted vessel using a very fine needle, the University of Michigan Vein Centers reports.  In recent years, use of ultrasound to guide a physician during the procedure has become common.

Once the sclerosant reaches the vein, it irritates the walls, causing the vessel to seal shut and eventually resorb.  Healthier veins nearby resume the work of the destroyed vessel.  The treated vein disappears over time.

What to Expect

The path to eliminating a spider vein problem begins with a consultation with a specialist.  At the initial appointment, the physician determines whether a patient is an acceptable sclerotherapy candidate and provides detailed instructions to those who qualify.

Most patients report only cramping or minor stinging during the procedure, according to the Mayo Clinic.  The number of sessions required depends on how many veins need treatment and where they are located.

After a sclerotherapy procedure, patients remain on their backs while resting.  Discharge orders specify how long they are required to wear compression stockings.

Although it is necessary for another adult to drive the patient home, most individuals get back to their normal routines the same day as the procedure, absent any strenuous activity.  Physicians encourage walking because it helps prevent the formation of blood clots.  Sun exposure to treated areas can result in the formation of dark spots on the skin.

No treatment can prevent the development of new veins.  For this reason, some individuals come back from time to time for additional sclerotherapy sessions.

Types of Vein Disease Problems

Veins are responsible for circulating blood and oxygen throughout the body and back to the heart. However, while the veins are so important, they can develop problems, and these problems can cause a number of complications.

At the onset of vein disease, symptoms are often minimal, causing the disease to sometimes go unnoticed. With some diseases of the veins, if the condition goes untreated, it can become life-threatening. For that reason, being aware of the signs and symptoms of vein disease and seeking immediate medical treatment is vital to your health and well-being.

Venous Disease

There are several vein diseases, but some of the most common include the following:

  • Varicose veins –A chronic vein disease (CVD,) in this condition, the veins become dilated and they thicken. Varicose veins are comprised of twisted blood vessels, and they are unable to control proper blood flow.
  • Spider veins – Another CVD, spider veins are dilated capillaries under the surface of the skin. They appear as small red, purple and blue vessels that resemble spider legs, hence the name. Like varicose veins, spider veins also twist and turn.
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – This is a very serious condition that most commonly impacts the veins of the leg, though it can also develop in the veins of the pelvis and the arms. In DVT, blood clots form within the large veins, and if left untreated, these clots can loosen and travel to your lungs, resulting in a pulmonary embolism.
  • Lymphedema – This disease is caused by a blockage in the lymph vessels that drain fluid from the tissues of the body, allowing cells from the immune system to travel where they need to. If left untreated, lymphedema can cause serious infections and/or lymphangiosarcoma (a rare form of soft tissue cancer.
  • Leg ulcers – These breaks in the skin, or lesions, usually impact subcutaneous tissues, muscle, or bone. They can occur in diabetics, and are the result of insufficiencies in the veins. They can cause serious, life-threatening infections.
  • Vein sores – These chronic wounds of the veins are the result of the poor circulation of blood from your legs, back to the heart.
  • Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) – When the venous wall and/or the valves within the leg veins don’t work properly, circulation of the blood from the legs to the heart is compromised. This vein disease causes blood to collect in the veins, causing stasis, a serious condition.
  • Pulmonary embolism – This life-threatening condition causes a blood clot in the lungs. It restricts blood flow to the lungs, causing serious damage to the lungs.
  • Phlebitis – This is an inflammation of the veins, which is caused by an injury to the blood vessel wall, insufficient venous flow, or abnormal coagulation.

Should you develop one of these more serious vein problems, immediate medical treatment is required.

Having the health of your veins assessed on a regular basis is crucial to your overall health and well-being. Contact our San Luis Obispo vein treatment clinic,Premier Heart & Vein Clinic for an appointment for vein care.

 

Best Foods to Help Make your Spider Vein Treatment More Effective

Research shows that somewhere around a third of the adult population in the United States has a condition that would benefit from spider vein or varicose vein treatment. Spider veins, are a common problem, especially in women. The Society for Vascular Surgery estimates that in the U.S., as much as 35 percent of adults are affected by the condition. The higher risk categories include women, people who are obese, and women who have had several children.

Good nutrition can help both your condition and speed healing from spider vein treatment. The human body is an intricate machine that responds very well when it is supplied with the proper nutrition. As you recover from your vein treatment, incorporate some of these foods into your diet – and eliminate the ones that could cause you problems.

Eat More Fiber

Most people do not get enough fiber in their diet and that isn’t good. Fiber makes the body function much better by moving waste through the digestive tract. It also helps you feel fuller longer which can help reduce your waistline. More to the point of varicose veins, though. Straining while having a bowel movement puts a long of pressure on the veins that are in the lower portion of the rectum, causing hemorrhoids and varicose veins.

Do your body a favor and make healthy, high fiber choices including;

  • Brown and wild rice
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Whole wheat flour

Drink Plenty of Water

Water is very beneficial to keeping your body functioning at an optimal level. It keeps your skin soft and supple, helps flush out toxins, and hydrates your organs and body. When adding fiber to your diet, make sure you drink lots of water to keep things moving freely.

Select Foods Containing Rutin

Rutin is a flavonoid and is very beneficial for spider veins. While it offers multiple, whole body benefits, one of the most notable is its ability to minimize the permeability and fragility of capillaries. This means that it can actually help to decrease your risk of developing spider veins, really boosting the impact of your vein treatment. Foods rich in Rutin include:

  • Apple (especially the skin)
  • Blackberries
  • Cherries
  • Buckwheat
  • Apricot
  • Grapes

Foods to Avoid

As you make healthy food choices, you will have to get rid of some foods that aren’t so healthy. Eliminate these foods from your diet for healthier veins and overall wellbeing;

  • White rice
  • White flour
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol (no more than 1 glass a day)

The doctor who does your vein treatment can help you target specific foods that would best benefit your body, but you can start eating healthy today. It doesn’t have to be a singular big change, rather a series of baby steps leading you to a more nutritious, healthier lifestyle.

Exploring Spider Vein Treatment Options

Spider veins are an embarrassing condition that can affect your self-esteem and your quality of life. Fortunately, a variety of treatment options are available. Below is some information about spider veins and spider vein treatment options to help you make the best decision.

What Are Spider Veins?

Spider veins are abnormal veins that often develop in the hands, chest, face and legs. They appear in web-like formations, and they tend to be blue, red or purple in color. Spider veins are rarely raised above the surface of the skin. Many people with spider veins experience no other symptoms in addition to the appearance of the veins. However, some people may notice throbbing, cramping, tingling and other uncomfortable symptoms, especially when spider veins are located in the legs.

Spider Vein Treatment Options

If you are suffering from spider veins, you may be able to alleviate your symptoms with several different treatments. At Premier Heart and Vein Care, we offer the following treatment options for people with spider veins.

  • Veinwave - Veinwave is a treatment option that utilizes high frequency thermal energy to treat spider veins. The energy is delivered through a fine needle inserted into the abnormal veins. This procedure is ideal for delicate areas that cannot be treated using other methods, such as the face. Veinwave is also appropriate for hard-to-treat areas, such as your knees and ankles.
  • Sclerotherapy - Sclerotherapy is a procedure that treats spider veins with a special sclerosing solution. During this procedure, the surgeon uses a fine needle to inject the solution into individual spider veins. This solution irritates the veins and causes them to collapse. The results of this procedure will not be immediately apparent, but instead will appear over the next few weeks and months.

Seeking Spider Vein Treatment

If you are interested in scheduling treatment for spider veins, the best thing to do is to schedule an appointment with a vascular surgeon. To get started, contact Premier Heart and Vein Care today.

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