My Blog
By Grand Rapids Cardiology
October 08, 2020
Category: General
Tags: Healthy Diet   Heart  

Fuel a healthy heart with these dietary tips and recommended foods.

Preventing heart disease is always the name of the game with our Grand Rapids, MI, cardiologist Dr. Ronald VanderLaan. After all, wouldn’t you want to prevent heart disease from happening to you in the first place rather than having to deal with a chronic health problem the rest of your life?

The good news is that simple dietary changes can make a serious impact on the health of your heart and reduce your risk for heart-related problems. Here’s what a heart-healthy diet looks like,

  • Nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein (e.g. fish; chicken) and healthy fats (e.g. olive oil and avocado)
  • Avoiding foods high in sugar or sodium
  • Avoiding trans fats and saturated fats

Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Eating a plant-based diet is incredibly beneficial for cardiac health, particularly if you are prone to heart disease. Your plate should be half full of vegetables, according to the American Heart Association. Also, make sure that your plate is a rainbow of colors. Some nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables to add to your diet include bell peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots and spinach.

Make Sure to Get Enough Fiber

It’s also important to get anywhere from 10-25 grams of fiber per day, which aids in better digestion. Plus, soluble fiber can also help manage blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, beans and flaxseed.

Include More Whole Grains

Again, whole grains can provide your daily allotment of fiber; however, whole grains also provide satiety when eating that their bleached, processed alternatives just don’t; therefore, you need to swap out white breads, pastas and rice with brown rice, whole-grain breads and pastas. Whole grains will make you feel fuller longer (to prevent overeating) and provide more nutrients than refined carbs.

Choose Leaner Meats

If you’re going to eat meat, there are actually certain types of meat that are more beneficial than others. In this case, poultry (turkey and chicken) and fish can provide a variety of nutrients and vitamins without all the saturated fat. Always look for the leanest cuts and avoid the skins.

Making simple changes to your lifestyle and diet now can go a long way to improving your heart health and preventing serious problems in the future. If you are concerned about your heart our Grand Rapids, MI, heart doctor is here to serve you. Call Grand Rapids Cardiology at (616) 717-5141 to schedule a consultation.

By Grand Rapids Cardiology
October 07, 2020
Category: General
Tags: Cardiologist  

Find out when you should turn to a cardiologist for care.

Our hearts work incredibly hard for us, pumping about 2,000 gallons of blood every day and beating about 115,000 times a day. Of course, when you start to notice symptoms that indicate a heart problem your family doctor may recommend seeing a specialist, better known as a cardiologist. Here are the top reasons why people seek cardiology care from our Grand Rapids, MI, cardiologist Dr. Ronald VanderLaan,

You’re experiencing symptoms

Notice chest tightness? Fluttering in your chest? Sudden dizziness, chest pains or shortness of breath? If so, a cardiologist is going to be able to tell you what’s going on.

While there is a wide range of conditions and issues that could be causing your symptoms, it’s important to rule out any potentially serious heart conditions or problems. Our Grand Rapids, MI, cardiologist can run a variety of cardiology tests to check for irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, angina and more.

You have been diagnosed with high blood pressure

Having elevated or high blood pressure makes the heart work a lot harder, which over time can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. This is why it’s incredibly important not to skip out on your annual physical, as your doctor can determine whether you have high blood pressure.

High blood pressure doesn’t cause symptoms so you could have it and not even know it. If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure it’s a good idea to turn to a cardiologist for regular checkups, too.

You are or used to be a smoker

We all know that smoking is detrimental to our health, but it’s particularly bad news for our hearts. Smoking can,

  • Increase blood pressure
  • Increase your risk for heart rhythm disorders
  • Constrict arteries and decrease blood flow to the heart
  • Increase your risk for coronary heart disease, stroke and heart attack

While these risks will certainly decrease once you quit smoking for good, it’s still a good idea to get regular cardiology checkups to make sure that those years of smoking haven’t caused any long-term damage to your heart.

Heart disease runs in your family

If you have a family history of heart disease, it’s a good idea to see a cardiologist who can determine how at-risk you might be for heart disease and provide you with simple lifestyle changes that can lessen your risk. Everything from altering your diet and losing excess weight and getting more exercise can help. Talk with your cardiologist about ways to reduce your chances of developing heart disease in your lifetime.

Do you have questions about the cardiology services we offer here in Grand Rapids, MI? Looking for a cardiologist who can better manage your heart health? If so, call Grand Rapids Cardiology at (616) 717-5141 to schedule a consultation.

Have you or your child been diagnosed with a complex congenital heart problem?

Children born with complex congenital heart problems are more likely to have other issues concerning neurodevelopmental delays and behavioral issues. This is why getting regular evaluations from our Grand Rapids MI cardiologist Dr. Ronald VanderLaan, including student heart screenings, can identify problem areas early on to improve your child’s health and quality of life as they get older.

What are the different kinds of complex cardiology problems?

Some of the more common complex heart problems include:

  • Hypoplastic left heart disease
  • Cyanotic congenital heart
  • Eisenmenger syndrome
  • Mitral atresia
  • Single ventricle
  • Pulmonary atresia
  • Pulmonary vascular obstructive diseases
  • Anomalous coronary artery (ACA)
  • Truncus arteriosus

It’s important that any child, teen, or adult who has been diagnosed with complex cardiology problems sees their Grand Rapids MI cardiologist at least once a year for routine check-ups and keeps up with regular student heart screenings. After all, we want all children and teens to be able to enjoy physical activity and the sports they love without worrying about heart problems occurring either on or off the field. A cardiologist can examine your child’s heart and determine if it is safe enough for them to participate in certain activities.

How are complex cardiology problems treated?

Each complex heart condition has its unique issues so, to effectively manage your condition, our cardiologist will need to tailor your treatment plan based on the type and severity of your condition. This is something that we can discuss further with you during your evaluation. Some patients benefit from medications while others may require special procedures or surgeries to improve deformities or defects in the heart.

Lifestyle modifications are usually a part of everyone’s treatment plan because living a heart-healthy lifestyle will only serve to improve your symptoms and your quality of life. Again, these are modifications that we can discuss based on your individual needs but some of these changes include:

  • Losing excess weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Eating a healthy, balanced, and whole diet
  • Avoiding sugar, processed foods, and foods high in saturated fats and salt
  • Staying hydrated
  • Getting regular exercise

Whether your current treatment plan just isn’t cutting it, or your current doctor has told you that you need to undergo surgery, we understand that there are moments when you may be considering a second opinion. This is your health, and you want to make sure that you are getting the best care possible. Whether you want to come in for an initial consultation, a diagnosis or a second opinion, Dr. VanderLaan is here for you.

No matter whether you are an active 40-year-old or student-athlete, you must be getting heart screenings once a year from our Grand Rapids MI cardiology team. These sessions take no more than 30 minutes and can provide you with peace of mind. To schedule a student heart screening with Dr. Ronald VanderLaan, call Grand Rapids Cardiology at (616) 717-5141.

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.

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