Patient Education


1. What are the risk factors for coronary artery disease (a common term for build-up of plaque in the heart that could cause a heart attack)?

Smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, lack of physical activity, obesity, diabetes mellitus, and hereditary factors can all increase your risk of coronary artery disease.

2. What is a heart attack?

A heart attack occurs when a blocked artery prevents oxygen rich blood from reaching part of the heart. This happens because coronary arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood flow can slowly become narrow from a build-up of fat, cholesterol and other substances, (also known as plaque, atherosclerosis, or coronary artery disease). When a plaque in a heart artery breaks, a blood clot forms around the plaque. This blood clot can block the blood flow through the heart muscle. This sudden loss of blood flow can cause pain and damage or death to part of the heart muscle, this is called a heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI). About every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a myocardial infarction (heart attack).

For more information click here Heart attack

3. What is an arrhythmia?

An arrhythmia is a abnormal electrical impulse in the heart that causes your heart to beat too fast, too slow, or erratically. Some people develop a lot of symptoms from arrhythmias while other’s notice nothing at all. Although most people’s hearts miss a beat or have a extra beat from time to time, individuals with an arrhythmia have more frequent interruptions.

For more information click here Arrhythmia

4. What is cardiac arrest?

Sudden cardiac arrest occurs suddenly and often without warning. It is triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat (Arrhythmia). With its pumping action disrupted, the heart cannot pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. Seconds later, a person loses consciousness and has no pulse. Death occurs within minutes if the victim does not receive treatment. Most heart attacks do not result in sudden cardiac arrest, however, heart attacks, heart failure, and certain arrhythmias, particularly ventricular arrhythmias, can increase your risk of cardiac arrest.

5. What is heart failure?

Heart failure is a chronic progressive condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to keep up with the body’s demand. Over time, patients can develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, swelling in the legs, and fatigue. There are two types of heart failure 1) Diastolic – in which the heart muscle becomes stiff and unable to fill with enough blood during the heart’s resting period. 2) Systolic – in which the heart is weak and cannot pump with enough force to effectively push enough blood into the circulation. Heart failure is the most common cause of hospitalization in individuals over the age of 65. Heart failure is more likely to occur as we age, but coronary artery disease and high blood pressure can increase the risk of developing heart failure.

6. What is high blood pressure and why is it important?

A normal blood pressure is anything less than 120/80. High blood pressure often causes no outward symptoms but when left untreated, the damage that high blood pressure does to your circulatory system is a significant contributing factor to heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and other health conditions. By working closely with your doctor, taking your blood pressure medication regularly, and making positive lifestyle changes such as exercising, managing stress, eating a low salt diet, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol, and not smoking, you can reduce your risk of complications from high blood pressure.

7. Heart Healthy Diet

You can significantly reduce your cardiovascular risk factors through lifestyle changes including maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly.  Please visit the links below for specific diet and lifestyle recommendations from the American Heart Association.


Sunnyvale Cardiology
182 South Collins Road, Suite 800
Sunnyvale, TX 75182
Phone: 214-466-6943
Fax: 866-313-9413

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