My Blog
By Grand Rapids Cardiology
August 07, 2020
Category: Heart Health
Tags: Heart Attack Risks  

Every 40 seconds, a person in the United States experiences a heart attack, states the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). At Grand Rapids Cardiology, Dr. Ronald VanderLaan helps his cardiology patients reduce their heart attack risks. If you live in the Grand Rapids, MI, area, you, too, can benefit from his counsel and keep your heart strong.

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, happens when insufficient blood flow damages the heart muscle. Over time, coronary arteries narrow and may be blocked with a blood clot or piece or fatty plaque. When a blockage is sufficient, you have a heart attack.

Signs of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Profuse sweating
  • Dizziness

The American Heart Association (AHA) says that women's symptoms often vary from this classic heart attack profile, particularly in the suddenness of chest pain. Accordingly, women must stay in tune with what their bodies are saying and never ignore the feeling that something is wrong.

Can you minimize your heart attack risk?

Yes, you can if you work on the health and lifestyle factors that damage the heart and circulatory system. Here are some strategies from your cardiologist in Grand Rapids, MI. They can put you in better control of your cardiac health:

1. Maintain a healthy weight through daily exercise and a low-carb, low-fat diet. Avoid animal fats, and up your intake of plant-based foods and fish.

2. Reduce your stress level. Whether you have chronic job or family stress or have experienced trauma through a car accident, service in the armed forces or other life-threatening event, seek behavioral therapy and/or medication from a mental health professional.

3. Manage your blood pressure and cholesterol levels through diet, exercise and medication.

4. Control your blood sugars if you are diabetic. MedLine reports that your risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack doubles with poorly controlled diabetes.

5. If you snore, investigate the possibility of sleep apnea. More than loud snoring, this harmful sleep disorder increases your chances of cardiovascular disease, says Harvard Health. Your primary care physician can refer you to a sleep specialist or dentist in your area.

6. Don't smoke as nicotine constricts your blood vessels, including your coronary arteries.

7. Limit alcohol. If you're a woman, have only one drink a day. If you're a man, your limit is two a day.

8. Take your medications as prescribed by your primary care physician and by Dr. VanderLaan.

Live well with a healthy heart

Dr. Ronald VanderLaan and his team at Grand Rapids Cardiology serve patients of all ages in the Grand Rapids, MI, area. We will help you reduce your risk of a heart attack so you feel your best and experience a heart-healthy life. Call us for a consultation today: (616) 717-5141.

By Grand Rapids Cardiology
July 24, 2020
Category: Heart Health

If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, you can learn to manage it. At Grand Rapids Cardiology in Grand Rapids, MI, your cardiologist, Dr. Ronald VanderLaan, helps many patients identify modifiable risk factors and plan realistic ways to modify them. Heart health and overall well-being depend on it.

What is hypertension?

Your blood pressure measures how hard your heart works as it pumps blood and how much it rests as blood returns to your heart. Consisting of a ratio of two numbers--systolic and diastolic pressure--your blood pressure is a key indicator of your cardiovascular health.

While everyone is a bit different, a normal blood pressure reading is 120/80. While heredity and age may elevate this a bit, your numbers should remain relatively close to this ideal throughout your life.

However, some health conditions and lifestyle factors may increase your blood pressure. Consistently elevated blood pressure, or hypertension, is 140/90 or higher.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), hypertension often leads to:

  • Vision loss
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Sexual dysfunction and loss of libido

Does this condition have symptoms?

The AHA calls high blood pressure the silent killer because patients often are unaware they have it. That's why it's important to get your annual check-up with your primary care physician. They will assess your numbers and give you a definitive diagnosis.

However, other individuals do exhibit symptoms, although they may not realize that hypertension is the cause. Symptoms can include:

  • Headaches
  • Vertigo
  • Confusion
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue

How can you control your blood pressure?

At Dr. VanderLaan's office in Grand Rapids, MI, your cardiology team works with hypertensive patients to prevent complications. Common risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • A high-salt, high-fat diet
  • Diabetes
  • Alcoholism
  • Increasing age
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Your cardiologist will help you make daily habit changes to include a healthy diet, exercise and weight and stress reduction. Also, you should take your blood pressure medications exactly as prescribed and monitor your numbers daily at home.

If you smoke, start a smoking cessation program through your doctor or local hospital. Limit alcohol intake to one drink daily if you are a woman and two if you are a man. Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and tea, should be consumed in moderation also. Finally, see Dr. VanderLaan and your primary care physician as they direct.

We will help you

Dr. Ronald VanderLaan and his dedicated staff in Grand Rapids, MI, are available to coach you on your new way of life. Hypertension does not have to dominate you. Contact Grand Rapids Cardiology for more information on a healthy blood pressure: (616) 717-5141.

By Grand Rapids Cardiology
July 24, 2020
Category: Cardiology
Tags: Stress   Stress Screening  

Do you need a stress screening? Screenings provided by your Grand Rapids, MI, cardiologist, Dr. Ronald VanderLaan of Grand Rapids Cardiology, offer important information about the function and health of your heart.

What happens during a stress screening?

A stress test evaluates how well your heart works during physical exertion. During a stress screening, you'll run or walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bicycle. Although you'll start slowly, you'll gradually increase your speed as the test progresses. If you're unable to exercise during the test, you may receive an injectable medication that raises your heart rate instead.

Electrodes connected to your chest, arms and legs will transmit information about your heart's electrical activity. Although it will take a little while to attach, then remove, the electrodes from your skin, the actual stress test will only take about 10 or 15 minutes.

If your cardiologist notices any signs that may indicate a problem with your heart, or you experience any difficulty, your test may end earlier than expected.

Who can benefit from screening?

Your Grand Rapids heart doctor may recommend a stress screening to evaluate:

  • Your Ability to Exercise Safely: If you want to exercise after a period of inactivity, plan to start cardiac rehab, or want to begin an intense training regimen, a stress screening will help you ensure that your heart is healthy enough to handle exercise.
  • The Results of a Procedure: Screenings are often recommended following a cardiac procedure or heart surgery.
  • Check Your Heart Health After a Heart Attack: A stress test provides valuable information regarding your heart function after a heart attack.
  • Your Heart Health if You Have Risk Factors: Diabetes and other chronic diseases and conditions can damage your heart. A stress screening will determine if any damage has occurred.
  • Possible Heart-Related Symptoms: Your cardiologist may recommend a screening if you've been experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, unusual fatigue, lack of stamina or other symptoms.
  • Your Heart Function if You Have Heart Disease: Periodic screenings may be needed to assess how well your heart is functioning if you have heart disease.

Protect your heart health with a stress screening. Call your cardiologist in Grand Rapids, MI, Dr. VanderLaan of Grand Rapids Cardiology, at (616) 717-5141 to schedule your appointment.

By Grand Rapids Cardiology
July 08, 2020
Category: Cardiology
Tags: Cardiologist  

Here’s when visiting a cardiologist may be the best decision you make for your health.

While it may seem like common sense to see your doctor once a year for routine checkups, it may not seem as commonplace to visit a cardiology doctor; however, there are times when visiting our Grand Rapids, MI, cardiologist Dr. Ronald VanderLaan is the best thing you could do for your health. Wondering if it’s time to see a cardiologist? It might be if,

You are dealing with heart pain

This may seem like an obvious one, but we also understand that experiencing heart pain can be scary and that some people will ignore it and just hope it goes away. While severe or sudden heart pain, particularly pain accompanied by numbness or tingling down your arms, requires emergency medical attention, if you notice slight discomfort or pain in your chest it’s a good idea to talk with your cardiologist as soon as possible.

You have a family history of heart problems

A peek into your family’s medical history can reveal a lot about the potential problems you could face in the near future. If your family has a history of heart problems, it’s important that you understand your risk and that you get routine cardiology care from our Grand Rapids, MI, team at least once a year to prevent problems from happening (or to at least catch them early on).

You smoke (or used to smoke)

Smoking or using tobacco products greatly increases someone’s risk for heart disease as smoking decreases the amount of oxygen that gets to the heart. Over time, this leads to elevated blood pressure and can even cause damage to the lining of the arteries. Even once you quit smoking you can reduce your risk; however, long-term or heavy smokers should still see a cardiologist at least once a year.

You want to start working out

If you have heart problems or if you are over 40 years old and want to start a new form of fitness, we’re so excited that you’re taking this step toward better health. However, our cardiology team also wants to make sure that the fitness program that you want to take part in is safe for you and your heart. That’s why it’s always a good idea to talk with your cardiologist before beginning a new workout routine.

You have high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol

Both of these problems, which are fairly common among Americans, can increase your risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Therefore, if you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure or told that you have high cholesterol it’s important that you find ways to keep those problems in check (whether through medication, lifestyle changes or both). By controlling these problems, you can prevent heart-related health complications.

If you are looking for cardiology care here in Grand Rapids that is dedicated to providing you with the individualized care and treatment you need for better health and wellbeing, then call Grand Rapids Cardiology at (616) 717-5141 to schedule an appointment.

By Grand Rapids Cardiology
July 07, 2020
Category: General
Tags: Hypertension  

Making a few changes to your diet could lower your blood pressure and protect your heart. Your Grand Rapids, MI, cardiologist, Dr. Ronald VanderLaan of Grand Rapids Cardiology, can recommend lifestyle changes and offer treatments that will help you manage your high blood pressure.

Lowering sodium intake and eating healthy offers big benefits for your health

The foods you eat may be responsible, at least in part, for your high blood pressure. Following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet can lower your high blood pressure and help you maintain a healthy weight. Reducing your blood pressure decreases the strain on your heart and lowers your risk of heart attack, heart disease, high cholesterol, and stroke.

The DASH diet limits sodium to 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day, which is just about the amount of sodium in one tablespoon of salt. A lower-sodium version of the diet drops the daily level to 1,500 mg. In addition to putting away the salt shaker, you can limit your intake by buying foods at Grand Rapids grocery stores that are labeled low sodium or sodium-free. Many canned foods are packed in salty liquid. Rinsing them before heating will decrease the amount of sodium you consume.

You'll also need to stick to daily serving recommendations, which include:

  • Four to five fruit servings
  • Two to three servings of milk, cheese, yogurt or other low-fat or fat-free dairy products
  • Four to five servings of vegetables
  • Six to eight servings of whole grains, including cereal, bread, pasta or rice
  • Six one-ounce servings of poultry, fish or lean meats

Add four to five servings of seeds, legumes, and nuts per week to your meal plan. Beans, peas, nuts, and soybeans will help you meet this recommendation.

You've probably noticed the lack of sugar on the list. It's best to limit sweet treats to five servings or less per week. Keep in mind that one tablespoon of sugar equals a serving. You may be surprised at just how much sugar some of your favorite foods and beverages contain. In fact, you may consume more than your weekly allotment of sugar by drinking one bottle of cola.

Do you need a little help managing your high blood pressure? Call your cardiologist in Grand Rapids, MI, Dr. VanderLaan of Grand Rapids Cardiology, at (616) 717-5141 to schedule your appointment.

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