Jeffrey H. Graf, MD
Concierge Medicine located in Upper East Side, New York, NY
Heart disease is a leading cause of death among both women and men in the U.S. At his practice in New York City, Dr. Jeffrey Graf helps patients maintain cardiovascular health with state-of-the-art testing and treatments customized to each patient's unique needs.
Heart Disease Q & A
What Causes Heart Disease?
Heart disease encompasses all the diseases that affect the heart and the blood vessels including coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, and congestive heart failure. Many factors can cause or contribute to heart disease including high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol, which can cause a condition called atherosclerosis. In atherosclerosis, sticky deposits of cholesterol build up along artery walls, making it more difficult for oxygen-rich blood to reach the heart and other organs. Some heart diseases are caused by defects in the heart's structure or problems with the way the heart beats or pumps blood. Heart diseases tend to be more common among smokers, heavy drinkers, those with a family history of the disease, people who are overweight or obese, and those who aren't physically active. Heart diseases also become more common with older age.
What Symptoms are Associated with Heart Disease?
That depends on the type of disease that's present. Common symptoms can include chest pain or pressure, dizziness, fainting, profuse sweating, shortness of breath or nausea. Sometimes, cardiovascular disease causes few or no symptoms until a serious event occurs, which is why it's important to have annual physicals and routine medical screenings.
What Can I Do To Maintain Cardiovascular Health?
Leading a healthier lifestyle can help including quitting smoking, eating a diet low in unhealthy fats and sodium and high in fiber, drinking alcohol in moderation, losing excess weight and being more physically active. Having routine medical screenings is important for identifying telltale signs that may indicate that cardiovascular disease is present or imminent. Some of the more common screenings include:
- Routine blood pressure readings
- Blood tests to measure cholesterol and blood sugar (glucose) levels
- C-reactive protein blood tests to measure the levels of this protein which becomes elevated when inflammation is present
- EKG to evaluate the heart's electrical activity
- Cardiac stress testing to measure how well the heart performs under physical stress and activity
- Ultrasound evaluations of the heart (echocardiograms)
- Abdominal aneurysm screenings
Having routine medical screenings is especially important for maintaining cardiovascular health in people who have a family history of heart disease or other risk factors.