Home Heart Disease Treatment HOUSE CALL: Heart disease remains No.1 killer in U.S. - Standard-Times

HOUSE CALL: Heart disease remains No.1 killer in U.S. - Standard-Times

8 min read


Dr. Jason Felger


Shannon Medical Center

Published 2:16 PM EST Jan 7, 2019

More Americans die from heart disease (heart attacks/heart failure) than any other causes including cancer, car crashes and gun-related deaths. Heart disease does not discriminate between male or female.

By adding vascular disease causing strokes (cerebrovascular accidents), almost 50 percent of American deaths annually are accounted for. Although cardiovascular-related deaths have diminished since 1980, they continue to be the No. 1 cause of death in the United States.

Several risk factors are attributable to developing cardiovascular disease (atherosclerosis) or better known as “hardening of the arteries.” The most prevalent factor is having family members — first degree relatives such as parents, sibling, or child — who has heart disease.

Who your parents are and your genetics, you cannot control. However, smoking is a factor an individual has complete control over.

“To smoke or not to smoke” is almost synonymous with “to die or to live.”

Many Americans have diabetes mellitus. This metabolic disorder is prevalent in patients with cardiovascular disease. Diabetes can be controlled or treated with lifestyle changes in diet and exercise and, if necessary, medication. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can lead to heart disease.

Diet management and exercise can help control your blood pressure and cholesterol. However, some people do require medication for control.

More: New coalition targets diabetes with educational outreach, free screenings

More: House Call: Know the symptoms and risks of Type 2 diabetes

Obesity and sedentary lifestyle are related to higher risk of heart disease. Obviously, lifestyle changes of regular exercising (30 minutes a day, 7 days a week) and proper dietary choices can greatly decrease your risk of heart disease. These changes help treat 5 of the 6 greatest risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

Symptoms of heart disease or stroke are well-known, but not always present or noticed until a heart attack or stroke occurs.

For heart disease, chest pressure (angina), jaw pain, or left arm pain are most common. Common stroke signs are drooping of one side of the face, one-sided arm/leg weakness, and speech slurring/impairment.

People may have one, some or sometimes none of these symptoms before a heart attack or stroke. Prompt and aggressive treatment is required to minimize the damage to the heart and the brain from heart and cerebrovascular disease.

Diagnostic tests and treatments for heart and vascular disease are complex and multi-faceted. Blood tests, stress tests, echocardiograms, carotid ultrasounds and cardiac catheterizations help define the critical nature of atherosclerosis and the risk of heart attack, heart failure and stroke. After defining the problem, a team of physicians will delineate a personalized treatment regimen that may include medicines, coronary stents and possibly surgery.

Where can you get top-rated high quality cardiac care in Texas? Right here in San Angelo. The Watson Health 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals award recognized Shannon Medical Center as among the Top 50 hospitals in the U.S. for cardiovascular care.

More: Shannon Medical Center named as one of the Top 50 cardiovascular hospitals in the nation

The award measured high-quality care based on treatment outcomes including low rate of death after cardiac bypass surgery and coronary stenting, treatment of heart failure and low re-admission rates after cardiac bypass surgery and heart failure. All cardiac care hospitals across the U.S. were evaluated and Shannon was one of three in Texas recognized and the only hospital in West Texas. Watson Health also recognized Shannon for delivering high quality care at lower cost.

Shannon began a full service cardiovascular program in 1988 with the first coronary artery bypass operation in the Concho Valley. Since 1988, The hospital’s administration, along with the Shannon board of trustees, has committed to attracting and maintaining knowledgeable and skilled physicians to develop the cardiovascular medicine program.

The same cardiac surgical team has performed between 150-300 heart operations per year since 2004. Our cardiac catheterization lab continues to increase the volume of cases annually since 2012, performing nearly 600 coronary interventions per year. The completion of the new Shannon tower, in December 2018, confirms the Shannon board’s devotion to its mission of providing medical care for San Angelo and the surrounding area.

The new addition houses three new cardiac catheterization labs, a new cardiovascular operating room and a state-of-the-art Hybrid operating room with the latest imaging equipment to allow more precise, minimally invasive treatment for cardiac and vascular diseases.

Dr. Jason Felger is a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon at Shannon Medical Center.

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