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Is Carotid Stenosis a Serious Condition?

Our bodies carry blood from the heart to the brain using two large arteries known as the Carotid arteries. When you place your fingers against your throat and feel your pulse, these are the arteries you feel. When plaque builds up inside the artery walls, these pathways narrow. The condition is called carotid stenosis or carotid artery disease. When left untreated, carotid stenosis can significantly increase the risk of stroke.

Carotid artery stenosis develops slowly. Risk factors include tobacco use, high blood pressure, diabetes and a family history of carotid artery disease. It is also more common in people as they get older and more common in people with obesity. Often, the first visible symptom of carotid stenosis is a stroke, so it is important to get regular check-ups to diagnose potential issues early.

Does carotid artery stenosis require surgery?

The good news is that carotid artery stenosis can be treated conservatively in many cases. People who only have a mild narrowing of the arteries may be able to improve their condition through lifestyle choices. These include adopting a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise and quitting smoking. Many people can also treat carotid artery stenosis with over the country medications such as aspirin.

People who have more severe blockages or who have suffered a previous stroke may need surgery to correct their carotid artery stenosis. A procedure known as an endarterectomy is performed in order to remove plaque buildup and restore normal blood flow to the artery. After treatment, lifestyle changes can prevent a recurrence and also help prevent other health issues.

What is bilateral carotid artery stenosis?

Bilateral carotid stenosis occurs when both sides are affected. This means that there is narrowing in the arteries on both sides of the neck.

Common symptoms to watch for

In some cases, carotid stenosis does not cause any noticeable symptoms before an individual experiences a stroke. In others, signs of the condition may be discovered during a physical exam. When doctors suspect that a patient is experiencing carotid artery disease, they will follow up with tests such as a carotid artery stenosis ultrasound.

In some cases, symptoms are more distinct. Seek medical attention if you experience any of the following:

  • confusion and problems with memory.
  • difficulty seeing or sudden onset of blindness.
  • slurred speech that does not have obvious causes (such as consumption of alcohol).
  • inability to understand speech.
  • inability to speak.
  • tingling, numbness or weakness in the face, arms or legs.

Get Treatment at Premier Heart & Vein Care

At Premier Heart & Vein Care in San Luis, we offer non-invasive tests that can help you and your doctor determine whether you have carotid artery disease and what treatments might be appropriate. Our caring team uses their years of expertise to carefully examine the health of your arteries and give you a fuller picture of your health. Get in touch for more information today.

Health Insurance & Medicare Coverage Concierge Medicine

Does Health Insurance or Medicare Cover Concierge Medicine?

As more Americans struggle to pay for various types of medical services, many believe the system is simply broken and needs a major overhaul. 

To address the problems of inefficiency, exorbitant treatment costs, and lack of optimal outcomes, many healthcare providers are turning to concierge medical service. A fee-based direct primary care option, this offers a variety of advantages and also some disadvantages to patients and doctors alike.

You Deserve Personalized Service with Extra Care

Rather than continually dealing with the many shortcomings that go along with traditional medical care, many doctors and patients are now viewing concierge services as a viable solution to the healthcare system's problems. Under a concierge plan, doctors who are primary care physicians charge their patients a retainer on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. By doing so, primary care services generally become more affordable, overhead costs are reduced, and preventive care becomes more readily available to patients.

Advantages of Concierge Medicine

As for the advantages of concierge services, there are many. One of the most important involves those patients who are concerned with Medicare coverage guidelines, since this has often been a sticking point in terms of what services patients can or cannot afford. For patients whose doctors use the Fee for Extra Care concierge model, Medicare can be used to cover services not included in the retainer, such as prescription medications and outpatient procedures. In addition, patients have shorter wait times for office visits, which is invaluable for most patients.

Disadvantages of Concierge Medical Service

When it comes to disadvantages of concierge service, the most common is expense. However, at Premier Heart & Vein Care we offer very affordable concierge medical services through our new program, Concierge Choice for a low annual fee of just $100, which comes out to less than five dollars a day. Most patients agree, that is extremely reasonable, considering the time and quality of care!  

Premier Heart & Vein Center Concierge Service

Here at Premier Heart & Vein Center, we are proud to offer a concierge program within our practice that we believe is one of the best you'll find anywhere. A unique hybrid plan, it is one of the few in the nation combining internal medicine, cardiology, and phlebology. Working with our patient's insurance plans when applicable, Premier Heart & Vein Center offers many options under our concierge services. Some of these include direct phone and email access after-hours and on weekends, personalized fitness and nutritional evaluations, same-day and next-day visits, extended and unhurried consultations, and much more.
If you would like to meet our vein physician in San Luis Obispo, CA, there is no better time than now to book an appointment with Premier Heart & Vein Care. To do so, give us a call at 805-979-4777 or visit us online at premierheartandveincare.com/contact/ and fill out the online form. By doing so, you'll be taking the first step to receiving the individualized care you deserve.

What Does An Irregular Heartbeat Feel Like?

What Does An Irregular Heartbeat Feel Like?

Everyone’s heart beats at its own pace, but there are certain patterns that are considered “regular,” verus some anomalies that are considered “irregular.” Having an irregular heartbeat can be dangerous. While the likelihood of developing an irregular heart rhythm increases with age, it can occur to anyone, including the young. If you suspect that you may have an irregular heartbeat, it’s best to consult with a trusted heart and vein care professional. Following is more information about an irregular heartbeat.

How To Look Out For An Irregular Heartbeat

You may have a heartbeat that is not regular without showing any symptoms at all. However, in some cases, symptoms such as fainting or severe chest pains will be present. Medics have stated that since most people may not show signs at all, the surest way of detecting this condition is by regularly checking your pulse. If you are 65 years old or older, you should check your pulse monthly. You can check your pulse at home by placing the tips of two of your fingers (third and fourth) on your lower neck on any side of your windpipe or placing the two fingers on the front side of your other wrist. You will note blood throbbing underneath your fingers. Count all the beats you will feel for at least fifteen seconds and multiply them by four. This multiplication is to help you get your heart rate per minute. A regular resting heart rate is usually 60 beats for every minute for adults.

Signs You May Have Arrhythmia

You can have a range of symptoms when your heartbeat is not regular. These symptoms differ from one individual to another, depending on the heartbeat irregularity. You may note inconsistency if your heartbeat feels like your heart is racing or fluttering. Here are some of the severe symptoms that show your pulse is not normal:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe chest pains
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Rapid chest-pounding
  • Lightheadedness

Is Having an Irregular Heart Rhythm Dangerous?

Many times, having a heartbeat that is not regular is harmless. Nonetheless, it is essential to seek treatment to prevent any further complications. If you have any of the severe symptoms discussed above, you should contact a physician immediately. If left untreated, the condition can lead to severe complications, including sudden cardiac arrest, stroke, or even heart failure.

How To Treat An Irregular Heart Rhythm

If you have an abnormal heartbeat, your doctor will have to identify the irregularity sources or triggers. This may include detailed family history, medical history, information on your lifestyle, and diet. Once the physician has an understanding of the possible triggers, he or she may request specific tests to enable them to come up with a proper diagnosis. Some of the standard tests include:

Once the diagnostic tests are complete, any heart abnormalities will require different treatments, including medications to reduce the number of episodes, specific exercises and movements to lower the risk, and in some cases, ventricular aneurysm surgery to remove a bulge in the blood vessels leading to the heart.

If you are experiencing an abnormal heartbeat, do not wait until it is too late. Book an appointment with Premier Heart & Vein Care and meet our vein physician in San Luis Obispo, CA to have the irregularity checked out and diagnosed.

 

Everything You Need to Know About Carotid Artery Stenosis

Carotid artery stenosis, or better known simply as carotid artery disease, occurs when the two main arteries — one located on each side of the neck — that carry blood from the heart to the brain and head narrow. This condition is typically caused by a gradual buildup of plaque within the artery, which over time leads in the narrowing of it. If untreated, this disease can increase the likelihood of a stroke, which can result in permanent long-term medical issues and even death.

What causes carotid stenosis? Being the disease is progressive, it's largely a combination of a number of factors over time. Those who suffer from medical conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes are more likely to be diagnosed with carotid artery stenosis. Smoking is another risk factor. In this post, we'll cover everything that you should know about carotid artery disease, from its early symptoms to how it's treated to how to prevent it. Here's a look:

Early Symptoms of Carotid Artery Stenosis

In some cases, carotid stenosis may be an unknown health condition and not evident until an individual experiences signs of a stroke or suffers an actual stroke. In other situations, an annual medical physical exam may suggest to a doctor that there's an issue, which may be followed up with a specialty test, like a carotid ultrasound. And in other cases, there are tell-tale signs and symptoms that individuals and healthcare professionals alike can take note of that may indicate a problem. Here's a look at some of the early symptoms of carotid artery stenosis to be on the lookout for:

  • Difficulty seeing suddenly or blindness.
  • Slurring speech without alcohol consumption or other obvious causes.
  • Numbness, tingling or weakness in the face and/or arm and/or leg.
  • Inability to speak or understand speech.
  • Confusion and memory problems.

Treating Carotid Artery Stenosis

The good news about carotid artery stenosis is that it's treatable and certain lifestyle choices can make living with the disease more manageable. Mild cases can even be treated with over-the-counter medications, like aspirin, which can help decrease the likelihood of blood clotting and reduce the risk of stroke. More severe blockages typically involve a more invasive surgical procedure where an endarterectomy is performed to remove plaque buildup within the artery and restore normal blood flow.

As we hinted above, following a carotid artery stenosis, individuals should make immediate changes to their lifestyle, which may include quitting smoking, adopting a healthier diet, exercising more and taking medication to treat conditions that may be aiding in plaque buildup. Eating healthy is particularly important, and a steady diet of fruits and vegetables don't just provide antioxidants, reduce inflammation and strengthen connective tissue, but stimulate blood flow throughout the body as well. A good diet isn't just important for heart health, but vein health as well. 

How to Prevent Carotid Artery Stenosis and Other Vein Issues

As we noted above, the best way to prevent carotid artery stenosis is to live a healthy lifestyle. Eat a balanced diet, get plenty of exercise and refrain from any lifestyle habits — like smoking — that could lead to long-term health issues. Additionally, preventative medical care is key to catching certain health issues, like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, that could lead to the sudden onset of carotid artery stenosis. 

Contact Premier Heart and Vein Care for More Information

One of the ways to diagnose carotid artery stenosis is via a carotid ultrasound, a non-invasive, safe procedure where images of the body's internal structures are taken and can be analyzed to assess the carotid artery's overall health in real-time. At Premier Heart and Vein Care, we're proud to offer this type of test as a way to carefully examine the health of the carotid artery. Contact us today, and we'll be happy to introduce you to Dr. Ken Stevens, our industry-leading vein physician. Contact our office today for more information.

What Are the Symptoms of Heart Disease?

Heart disease a serious condition that can increase your risk of serious complications, such as a heart attack or stroke. If you have heart disease, you need to seek treatment from a cardiologist as soon as possible. Below is some information to help you understand heart disease and recognize the symptoms so you can catch it as early as possible.
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What to Do if Heart Disease Runs in Your Family

If heart disease runs in your family, you may be nervous about your chances of developing this condition. However, having a family history of heart disease doesn't necessarily mean you will have a heart problem. Nonetheless, you need to be vigilant and proactive to protect your heart and remain as healthy as possible throughout your life. 

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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.

 

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