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By Grand Rapids Cardiology
February 20, 2020
Category: General
Tags: EKGs  

Performed by your cardiologist, Dr. Ronald VanderLaan, here at Grand Rapids Cardiology in Grand Rapids, MI, EKGs and stress tests provide valuable information about your heart. Read on to learn how they are performed, and how they can improve your cardiovascular health.

What are EKGs?

Electrocardiograms (EKGs) measure the electrical activity in your heart by showing how long it takes for an electrical impulse to travel from one part of your heart to the next. Evaluating these waves on either a printout or screen helps your cardiologist diagnose heart failure, irregular heartbeats, defects, and blood supply issues, amongst others.

The test is completely painless and only takes a few minutes to complete.

What are stress tests?

Stress tests evaluate how well your heart works when you are active. During this test, an EKG machine monitors your heart's electrical activity while you run on a treadmill or ride a stationary bicycle. Your heart rate and blood pressure will also be measured during this time.

You will begin the assessment by slowly running or pedaling the bike, before gradually increasing your speed until you reach your target heart rate. The entire test only takes about 10 or 15 minutes, although it may end early if your cardiologist detects any sign of a problem with your heart. If you can't exercise, you can still have a stress test. Instead of running or riding a bike, you'll receive a medication that raises your heart rate.

Stress tests may be recommended:

  • After heart surgery, a cardiac procedure, or a heart attack
  • To make sure you're healthy enough to exercise
  • If you've been experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, unusual fatigue, or other symptoms that could be caused by a heart problem
  • To determine if exercise affects the rhythm of your heart
  • If you have a heart condition or diabetes

Concerned about your heart health? Give us a call

Call Dr. VanderLaan of Grand Rapids Cardiology today by dialing (616) 717-5141.

By Grand Rapids Cardiology
February 19, 2020
Category: Cardiology

Family history may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, but it's not the only factor. Your cardiologist, Dr. Ronald VanderLaan of Grand Rapids Cardiology, can help you determine if you have any common heart disease risk factors and offer treatments that will help you protect your heart health.

Common Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

Your chance of developing heart disease may increase if you have one or more of these risk factors:

  • Hypertension (High Blood Pressure): Hypertension is known as the silent killer because it only produces symptoms if your blood pressure is dangerously high. Unfortunately, damage can still occur if you don't have any symptoms. High blood pressure increases your risk of stroke, kidney damage/failure, heart attack/failure, and vision loss.
  • Family History: You may be more likely to develop cardiovascular disease if a relative has or had a heart attack, heart failure, heart condition or hypertension. Your cardiologist in Grand Rapids can help you make lifestyle changes that may decrease your risk and offer medication and other treatments.
  • Your Age and Sex: Your risk of heart disease increases with age. Sex also plays a role. In fact, men and post-menopausal women are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease.
  • Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing for short periods multiple times throughout the night. In addition to affecting the quality of your sleep, sleep apnea may also cause or worsen heart disease.
  • Smoking: Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke can also increase your risk. Quitting smoking is a simple way to improve your heart health.
  • Poor Diet: Eating processed foods, particularly those high in salt, sugar, and saturated fat, may also affect your heart.
  • Inactivity: Exercise strengthens your heart and helps it work more effectively. If you're a couch potato, you may be more likely to eventually develop heart disease.

Concerned? Give Us a Call

Do you have any of these cardiovascular disease risk factors? Scheduling an appointment with your Grand Rapids, MI, heart doctor can help you improve your health and protect your heart. Call Dr. Ronald VanderLaan of Grand Rapids Cardiology at (616) 717-5141 to schedule your appointment.

By Grand Rapids Cardiology
February 19, 2020
Category: General
Tags: Vascular Screening  

Could a vascular screening help you protect your health? These screenings, offered by your cardiologist, Dr. Ronald VanderLaan of Grand Rapids Cardiology, provide important information about the condition of your blood vessels.

Why are vascular screenings important?

You are at an increased risk of experiencing a stroke, abdominal aortic aneurysm, or peripheral artery disease if your blood vessels are blocked or clogged with plaque. Plaque is a collection of fat, cholesterol, and calcium that adheres to the walls of your blood vessels.

How are vascular screenings performed?

Screenings are non-invasive and completely painless. During the ultrasound portion of the testing, you'll lie down while a technician passes a handheld ultrasound transducer over the carotid arteries in your neck, the aorta in your abdomen and the veins in your leg. Vascular screenings also includes ankle and arm blood pressure measurements. A lower reading in either of the legs may be an indication that you have peripheral artery disease.

Should I receive a vascular screening?

Your Grand Rapids heart doctor may recommend a vascular screening if:

  • You smoke: Smokers are more likely to develop vascular disease than non-smokers. In fact, smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular disease, according to the U.S. Surgeon General's report on smoking and health.
  • You have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes: Damage to blood vessels and plaque build up in blood vessels can be caused by these conditions. You may be more likely to develop a problem with your blood vessels if you've had the condition for a long time or if your condition isn't well-controlled.
  • You're overweight or sedentary: Excess weight and lack of exercise both increase your risk of stroke, aneurysm, and peripheral artery disease.
  • Your legs bother you: Swelling in your legs/ankles, leg pain, heaviness, or tightness can all be signs of peripheral artery disease and should be evaluated with a vascular screening. Screenings are also a good idea if you have varicose veins or frequent leg ulcers.
  • You are 55 or older: Your risk of developing plaque build-up or blocked vessels increases with age.

Concerned? Give us a call

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

By Grand Rapids Cardiology
February 19, 2020
Category: Cardiology
Tags: Stress  

A stress test is an invaluable tool for assessing your risk for developing heart disease. Stress tests can also be administered to patients already diagnosed with heart disease to help doctors monitor symptoms, such as shortness of breath or an irregular heartbeat. At Grand Rapids Cardiology in Grand Rapids, cardiologist Dr. Ronald VanderLaan cab determine if you could benefit from undergoing a stress test.

How Stress Tests Work

If you are at an increased risk for developing heart disease or have already been diagnosed with it, your cardiologist might recommend a stress test. Such tests can reveal whether or not you are experiencing certain symptoms associated with heart disease, including shortness of breath, chest pain, and an irregular heartbeat. Dr. VanderLaan can determine if are a candidate for undergoing a stress test.

Stress tests are usually performed while the patient exercises, which allows the doctor to observe how your heart responds to the stress of moderate physical activity. Electrodes are attached to the arms, legs, and chest. As the patient exercises on a treadmill, stationary bike, or similar piece of exercise equipment, the electrodes transmit data about the heart’s activity to a monitor where the information can be interpreted by medical professionals.

Alternatively, a medicine can be administered to patients who are unable to exercise. The medicine prompts the heart to respond in the same way it would if the patient was exercising. This enables the cardiologist to still gather data about how the heart responds to physical stress. However the stress test is administered, it will be stopped immediately if a patient’s heartbeat becomes irregular or the blood pressure drops.

Another option is the nuclear stress test, in which a small amount of radioactive tracer material is administered into a vein prior to exercising. As blood flows through the vein to the heart, the radioactive substance travels with it. A special camera with the ability to detect the tracer is used to capture images of the heart while the patient exercises. This allows the cardiologist to determine if there is sufficient blood flow to the heart when the patient is engaging in physical activity.

A stress test can help your cardiologist monitor your heart health if you are at an increased risk for developing heart disease or have already been diagnosed with it. To learn more about stress tests and whether or not you need one, schedule an appointment with Dr. VanderLaan at our cardiology office in Grand Rapids by calling Grand Rapids Cardiology at (616) 717-5141.

By Grand Rapids Cardiology
February 19, 2020
Category: Cardiology
Tags: Hypertension  

Manage Your Hypertension

According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of Americans have hypertension - commonly known as high blood pressure - and for many it has gone undiagnosed. And without medical intervention, hypertension can lead to heart disease, stroke or kidney or heart failure.

If you suspect you have hypertension, or have been diagnosed with the condition, Grand Rapids Cardiology in Grand Rapids can help you manage your hypertension so you can live your healthiest life.

What are some of the signs of hypertension?

Symptoms of hypertension may not be immediately evident, so it is important you visit with the experts at our Grand Rapids office if you are considered at a greater risk for hypertension. If you are overweight, a smoker, sedentary, frequently stressed, consume a poor diet or have a history of the disease, be especially mindful of signs including confusion, dizziness, chest pains, headaches or fatigue.

How can I manage my hypertension?

Your specialist at our Grand Rapids office may recommend lifestyle changes, medication or a combination of the two.

Lifestyle changes may include incorporating regular exercise into your week and adapting your diet to consume less fat, salt and alcohol and more fresh fruits and vegetables. You may also be advised to practice stress reduction techniques, such as meditation.

Additionally, it is important to quit if you are a smoker, and if you are overweight achieving a healthy body weight can help with keeping your hypertension under control.

At our Grand Rapids office, we can also prescribe medications for hypertension management. Depending on the severity of your hypertension and your specific needs, you may be prescribed one or more of the following:

  • Beta and alpha blockers
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Diuretics
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Central agonists
  • vasodilators

Each of these medications performs a specific task, such as lowering heart rate, relaxing the vascular walls, or flushing excess sodium out of the body. Your specialist at our Grand Rapids office will walk you through the unique attributes and purpose of your recommended medication.

With the help of Grand Rapids Cardiology in Grand Rapids, MI, you can keep your hypertension in check and live life to fullest. Call us today at (616) 717-5141.

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