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February is Heart Month!

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the CDC, one person dies every 37 seconds from cardiovascular disease. It’s important to know the signs and risk factors of heart disease.

Nearly half of all Americans are at risk for heart disease. Risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, diabetes and family history.

As an accredited chest pain center, recognized for excellence in treating heart attack symptoms, UT Health East Texas provides quality care and cutting edge procedures from board-certified physicians.

Social Media

Follow us on Facebook as we spread awareness of heart disease, symptoms to look for and how it affects your overall health. We’ll have live chats about various topics that will allow you the opportunity to get to know the physicians and ask questions. We’ll also have several blog posts featuring physician insights and patient testimonials.

Facebook Live Schedule

February 4

12:15 p.m.

Heart Health with Dr. Vivek Patel

Watch Now

February 13

12:45 p.m.

Heart Health and Nutrition with Allie Redding

Watch Now

February 20

12:15 p.m.

Heart Disease and Bariatric Surgery with Dr. Charles Keith

Watch Now

 

Services

To learn more about specific heart conditions we treat, symptoms and related topics including cardiac rehab, fitness, weight management, diabetes, sleep and home health, click the boxes below.

According to the CDC, one of every four deaths in the United States is due to heart disease. Heart disease can take many forms, the most common being coronary artery disease. Symptoms of heart disease include chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, cold sweats and pain in the arms or shoulder. 

 

You can lower your risk of heart disease by choosing healthy habits. 

  • Eat healthy food
    • Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and limit processed food, salt, sugar and alcohol intake. 
  • Keep a healthy weight
    • Excess weight can greatly increase your risk of heart disease as it adds stress to the heart and blood vessels. 
  • Participate in regular physical activity
    • Physical activity can help you keep a healthy weight, regulate blood flow and lower blood pressure. 
  • Don’t smoke
    • Smoking drastically increases your risk of heart disease.

 

Know the signs of a heart attack

The most common heart attack symptoms are:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting
  • Jaw, neck or back pain
  • Pain or discomfort in arm or shoulder
  • Shortness of breath

UT Health Tyler is an accredited chest pain center, recognized for excellence in treating patients with heart attack symptoms. If you are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, call 911 immediately. 

 

Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure (CHF) occurs when your heart is not able to pump enough blood to meet the needs of the rest of your body. While there are many causes, the most common is a weakening heart muscle, called cardiomyopathy. This may occur after a heart attack, if you have high blood pressure for an extended amount of time or after an infection. Other causes of CHF include the following:

  • Alcohol abuse or excessive drinking
  • An abnormally functioning heart valve
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Certain illnesses

The most common symptoms of CHF are related to excess fluid buildup or the inability of the heart to pump enough blood to the muscles or brain. It’s important to consult your doctor if you have worsening symptoms. Other common symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath and cough
  • Swelling of the feet, ankles and legs
  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness or fatigue

CHF cannot be cured, but it can be controlled. With proper treatment and lifestyle changes, you can slow the progression of CHF and improve your chances of survival. Medications are an important part of treatment. Research shows that heart failure medications can:

  • Help reduce your symptoms
  • Help you breathe easier
  • Help increase your energy
  • Help reduce swelling or fluid build up

If you have been diagnosed with CHF, call your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Your ankles and legs become more swollen
  • Your shoes and socks suddenly become tight
  • You have shortness of breath that does not go away with rest
  • You gain two to three pounds in one day
  • You gain four to five pounds in five days
  • You are dizzy or weak
  • Your heartbeat changes (feels like a butterfly in your chest)
  • You have chest pain
  • You have blurred vision or you pass out
  • You have a cough that does not go away

In the case of an emergency, call 911 immediately.

 

Calcium Scoring

While heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans, most people don’t know they have it until they have a heart attack or stroke. Low-dose CT (computerized tomography) calcium scoring can identify the early stages of heart disease in patients without symptoms. 

A calcium score is a screening used to determine the amount of calcium in the coronary arteries of the heart. The purpose is to determine if a patient is at high risk for coronary artery disease, which can lead to a heart attack. The American Heart Association recommends this test for people over 40 years of age, with risk factors for heart disease.

In general, a high calcium score is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular events, like heart attack and stroke. The lower the calcium score, the lower the risk.

UT Health East Texas offers CT calcium scoring for $79 at the following locations:

  • UT Health Athens
  • UT Health Carthage
  • UT Health Henderson
  • UT Health Jacksonville
  • UT Health North Campus Tyler
  • UT Health Pittsburg
  • UT Health Quitman
  • UT Health Tyler

To schedule CT calcium scoring, call 903-531-8000 and press 1.

 

Heart Valve Disease

Heart valve disease is a life-threatening condition where one or more of the heart’s four valves fails to pump efficiently. Common causes are valvular insufficiency, also called leaky valve or vascular stenosis, where valves have become hardened and narrowed. The Heart Valve Center at the UT Health East Texas Cardiovascular Institute at UT Health Tyler was created to diagnose and treat heart valve disease in addition to raising awareness of this condition. 

If left untreated, heart valve disease can lead to heart failure, infection and death. Treatment depends on the case, but our team strives to provide minimally invasive, innovative treatment options for heart valve repair and heart valve replacement. 

UT Health Tyler was the first in Tyler to perform the MitraClip procedure. This is a transcatheter mitral valve repair that is non-surgical and minimally invasive. This is a safe and effective treatment option for patients who are too high risk for surgery. Click here to learn more about the MitraClip procedure. 

Another treatment option is the transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a minimally invasive valve replacement procedure for patients with aortic stenosis. For more information about TAVR, click here. 

Are you at risk for heart valve disease? Take our valve screening questionnaire and our team will contact you to schedule a screening.

 

MyHeart First

In many cases, symptoms of heart disease don’t show until it’s too late. MyHeart First offers seven screenings in one visit, proven to most accurately detect heart disease and defects. Early detection can help prevent future heart attacks and strokes. 

Appointments are approximately 90 minutes and include the seven diagnostics tests below, followed by a review of the findings with a cardiologist:

  • Cholesterol panel
  • EKG
  • CT Coronary Calcium Scoring
  • Ankle Brachial Index
  • Carotid Artery Ultrasound
  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screen
  • Metabolic Disease Panel

MyHeart First is a one-time appointment with a one-time cost of $149. Appointments are available at UT Health Tyler and UT Health Athens. 

To schedule a MyHeart First appointment at UT Health Tyler, call 903-531-8000 and press 8. To schedule at UT Health Athens, call 903-676-2169. To learn more about MyHeart First, click here. 

 

 

Patient Testimonials

Brent and Donna Holt

Broken hearts CAN be mended. This is definitely true for Brent and Donna Holt, who together, conquered heart disease. In July 2019, Brent was showing signs of atrial fibrillation, but had other health conditions that made him too risky for surgery. In September 2019, Donna was diagnosed with a heart murmur. Both were referred to Dr. Vivek Patel at UT Health Tyler. On Oct. 9, 2019, Donna underwent mitral valve repair surgery. Just three weeks later on Oct. 30, Brent had the first MitraClip procedure in Tyler. Both procedures were a success, and the couple is continuing to recover. Read Brent and Donna’s story here.

 

Mistie Williams

Mistie Williams, a healthy, 42-year-old wife and mother of two was enjoying the Labor Day weekend with her family when she suddenly had a heart attack. She was taken to UT Health Tyler where Dr. Andrea Cooley performed a double bypass. Even after surgery, her heart was only functioning at 15%. She was transferred to a Dallas hospital for a heart transplant. When she got there, the doctors and nurses said that everything they did at UT Health Tyler saved her life. This is a truly remarkable story, featured in TylerToday about a woman who got a second chance at life. Read Mistie’s story here.

At UT Health East Texas, we offer a continuum of care. Cardiac events put a great amount of stress on your body. After you have a cardiac event, your body needs to recover and regain strength. We offer cardiopulmonary rehabilitation programs to help you return to your daily life. Our team of physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, psychologists and trainers work together to create a care plan that’s right for you. 

The traditional cardiac rehab program consists of 36 one-hour, monitored exercise sessions, designed to help you regain your strength and promote lifestyle change. These are offered at the following locations:

City Address Phone number
Tyler 701 Olympic Plaza Circle
Tyler, TX 75701
903-596-3234
Athens 6444 S. Palestine
Athens, TX 75751
903-677-8424
Carthage 409 W. Cottage Road
Carthage, TX 75633
903-694-4728
Cedar Creek Lake 100 Municipal Drive
Gun Barrel City, TX 75156
903-713-1550
Chandler 123 Hwy. 31 E.
Chandler, TX 75758
903-849-4404
Henderson 701 N. High St.
Henderson, TX 75652
903-655-3614
Hideaway Lake 16911 Village Lake Drive
Lindale, TX 75771
903-882-7055
Jacksonville 414 S. Main St.
Jacksonville, TX 75766
903-541-5141
Lake Palestine 18118 FM 344
Flint, TX 75762
903-590-5967
Pittsburg 2801 Hwy. 271 N.
Pittsburg, TX 75686
903-946-5463
Quitman 117 N. Winnsboro St.
Quitman, TX 75783
903-763-6348

Our Tyler location offers the Pritikin Intensive Cardiac Rehab program. This program consists of 36, two-hour sessions that include one hour of monitored exercise, and one hour of education such as cooking classes, nutrition workshops and healthy mind-set workshops. This program will help you increase energy, decrease body fat, lower blood pressure, improve endurance and strength, decrease cholesterol and improve blood sugar control. 


For more information about rehabilitation programs, visit UTHealthRehab.com or call 903-596-3000. 

 

Staying active is one of the most important things you can do to prevent heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity per week, or 30 minutes per day, five days a week.

Even if you’re not able to do the full 150 minutes a week, start by just sitting less. Try to take small walks throughout the day. Even small amounts of physical activity are better than none. Gradually increasing the amount of time you spend and the intensity will improve results. 

Regular exercise will lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, but also benefits other areas of your health, helping you live a longer, healthier life. 

Benefits of staying active:

  • Lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and pregnancy complications
  • Improved brain activity, including memory, attention and processing speed
  • Less weight gain
  • Improved quality of sleep
  • Better bone health and balance
  • Fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Better quality of life
  • Boosted energy levels
  • Help managing stress
  • Help quitting smoking

To help East Texans stay active, UT Health East Texas offers medically-integrated fitness centers across the region that are equipped with state-of-the-art fitness equipment, warm water pools, integrated group fitness programs and exercise programs catered to your individual needs.

The UT Health East Texas Olympic Center in Tyler is Texas’ first and only certified medical fitness center. This means that all programs are medically based under the supervision of a physician. In addition to the fitness center amenities, we also provide personal training, massage therapy, group fitness, aquatics and medical fitness programs, such as Exercise is Medicine and Lite-4-Life.

Exercise is Medicine is a program that allows you the opportunity to receive a free, two-week Olympic Center pass upon meeting with a degreed, certified exercise specialist for an initial fitness assessment, goal development and exercise prescription. 

Lite-4-Life is a 10-week program designed to approach weight loss through lifestyle and behavioral modifications. This program features personal training sessions, group nutrition classes, a consultation with a certified program coordinator and full-access membership to the UT Health East Texas Olympic Center.

Click here to learn more about our medical fitness programs.

To see the specific amenities and programs offered at each UT Health East Texas Olympic Center, click the locations below.

UT Health East Texas Olympic Center Cedar Creek Lake

UT Health East Texas Olympic Center Hideaway Lake

UT Health East Texas Olympic Center Jacksonville

UT Health East Texas Olympic Center Lake Palestine

UT Health East Texas Olympic Center Pittsburg

UT Health East Texas Olympic Center Tyler

UT Health Olympic Center Chandler

123 Highway 31 E. Chandler, TX 75758 | 903-849-4404

UT Health Olympic Center Mineola

1616 N. Pacific Mineola, TX 75773 | 903-569-0842

UT Health Olympic Center Rusk

1325 N. Dickinson Rusk, TX 75785 | 903-683-3555

 

As mentioned in other sections, weight plays in important role in heart health. Carrying extra weight puts extra stress on your heart, which can lead to cardiovascular diseases. 

Obesity is often linked to the following conditions that lead to a greater risk of heart failure.

  • High blood lipids
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Hypertension
  • Enlarged left ventricle
  • Some cancers
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis

The most common ways to assess your risk of obesity and heart disease are by your body mass index (BMI) and weight circumference. 

BMI is a formula that uses a person’s weight and height to determine the level of obesity. In most cases, BMI is calculated into the following classifications: 

BMI below 18.5 - Underweight

BMI between 18.5 - 24.9 - Normal weight

BMI between 25 - 29.9 - Overweight

BMI 30 and above - Obesity

In some cases, these classifications may vary based on a person’s lifestyle, such as for a professional athlete. 

Waist circumference is a good judge of abdominal fat, which is a risk of heart disease. This risk increases with a waist circumference over 40” for men and 35” for women.

In addition to providing fitness centers across the region, UT Health East Texas has two designated clinics to help you manage your weight loss.

Weight-Management Clinic

Dr. Ryan Menard practices in the weight-management clinic at UT Health North Campus Tyler. Dr. Menard is a board-certified family medicine and obesity medicine physician who strives to help his patients reach a healthy weight. During your visit at the weight-management clinic, Dr. Menard will cover many aspects related to weight including:

  • Dietary and activity assessment
  • Sleep and stress assessment
  • Body measurement/ratios
  • Cardiovascular and metabolic risk assessment
  • Cancer risk assessment related to weight
  • Family history and risk associated with excess weight
  • Laboratory metabolic profile
  • Medication assistance to help lose weight and improve health
  • Collaboration with registered dieticians, behavioral coaches/counselors, physical therapists and sleep specialists

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Menard, call 903-877-7200.

 

Tyler Bariatric Center

If other weight loss methods have not been effective, it might be time to consider bariatric surgery. The UT Health Tyler Bariatric Center offers specialized procedures, such as the gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, Lap Band and more. In addition to weight loss, these procedures can improve and in some cases resolve health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, joint pain and more. 

Bariatric surgery is performed by one of our two surgeons, Dr. Hugh Babineau and Dr. Charles Keith. Both are board-certified in general surgery and specialize in bariatrics. 

Deciding to get bariatric surgery is a very important and life changing decision. To find out if you’re a candidate, you’ll need to know your BMI. Typically, someone is a candidate if

  • Your BMI is 40 or greater
  • OR your BMI is 30 or greater and you have diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, or certain other medical conditions diagnosed by a physician.

Determining if you’re a candidate and which procedure is right for you will involve a consultation with one of our surgeons. Our goal is ultimately to help you get healthier. To learn more about the services offered at the Tyler Bariatric Center, read patient testimonials, see cash pricing and more, visit tylerbariatrics.com or call the office at 903-593-0230.

 

Did you know that 65% of people with diabetes die of a heart attack or stroke? Cardiovascular disease is the most common complication of type 2 diabetes. In the United States, an adult with diabetes is hospitalized for heart disease every 80 seconds. For adults over 60, type 2 diabetes combined with cardiovascular disease can shorten life expectancy by an average of 12 years. 

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It occurs when your body does not use the insulin it produces properly. Medication or insulin may be needed to manage type 2 diabetes, but a healthy diet and exercise are key components of treatment. Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or even prevented. It’s important to know if you’re at risk.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes and prediabetes include:

  • Age, if over 45
  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Overweight/obesity
  • Lack of regular physical activity
  • High blood pressure
  • Low HDL cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes during pregnancy

Our Tyler and North Campus Tyler facilities offer diabetes education programs to help you learn how to manage your diabetes.

Diabetes University at UT Health Tyler is a referral based, outpatient diabetes education program. This program offers two separate services, in addition to individual instruction. Our team or your primary care provider can help you decide which is best for you based on your needs.

  • Diabetes education individual instruction only
    • Minimum of one 1-1.5 hour visit
    • Covers the meal planning, physical activity, diabetes medications and monitoring
  • Medical Nutrition Therapy 
    • Completely focused on the meal planning aspect of diabetes management
    • Minimum one 1-1.5 hour visit
    • This is a completely separate service from diabetes education
  • Complete Diabetes Education Program or Diabetes Education: 
    • One one-on-one session 
      • Meet one on one with your diabetes educator
      • Develop a diabetes treatment plan based on an assessment of your specific diabetes care needs
      • Set and plan to reach meaningful goals
    • One six-hour group class
      • Meal planning
      • Strategies for adding physical activity
      • Current medication therapies for diabetes
      • Adjusting your meal plan and medications based on blood sugar testing
      • Skills to prevent diabetes-related complications
      • Coping strategies for meeting the day-to-day challenges of having diabetes
      • New diabetes technologies

Empower Diabetes at UT Health North Campus Tyler is a free diabetes education program that occurs four times each year. This program provides information on self-management tools such as:

  • Meal planning
  • Glucose monitoring
  • Exercise
  • Medications
  • Insulin administration
  • Foot Care

Each program consists of four, two-hour sessions. For more information or to register, click here or call 903-877-8978.

 

Sleep is essential to your health, and lack of enough sleep can lead to serious health conditions, such as heart disease. Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night, while kids need even more. Your body needs sleep to process, restore and strengthen. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body gets thrown off. This can affect your immune system, hormones and overall health and wellbeing. 

This is not just a problem for adults. Not getting enough sleep as a child or teenager can lead to health problems down the road. 

It’s important to stick to a sleep schedule with healthy habits and routines to keep your body at its best.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following tips for getting a good night's sleep:

  • Stick to a sleep schedule, even on weekends
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual
  • Exercise daily
  • Evaluate your bedroom to ensure ideal temperature, sound and light
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows
  • Beware of hidden sleep stealers, like alcohol and caffeine
  • Turn off electronics before bed

The UT Health East Texas Sleep Disorders Center became the first sleep center in East Texas to receive program accreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in 2004.

Sleep disorders we commonly treat include:

  • Circadian Rhythm Disorders
  • Insomnia
  • Pregnancy and Sleep
  • Narcolepsy
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Nightmares
  • Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a very serious sleep disorder. This occurs when you stop breathing for at least 10 seconds during sleep. This can cause fragmented sleep and low blood oxygen levels. This can lead to many health problems, including hypertension, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Patients with sleep apnea often have problems with their heart. The fragmented sleep patterns keep your body from being able to lower your heart rate and blood pressure.

Symptoms of sleep apnea:

  • Excessive snoring
  • Awaking with a headache
  • Awaking without feeling refreshed
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Waking up gasping for breath
  • Sudden body movements during sleep
  • Weight gain

For more information on sleep disorders, treatment options and clinic locations, click here or call 903-531-8079.

 

For East Texans who need medical support and services outside the hospital setting, UT Health East Texas Home Health provides in-home care. Our highly trained, licensed and certified UT Health East Texas Home Health caregivers deliver personalized plans and compassionate care with high-tech options and physician oversight. 

UT Health East Texas Home Health commonly treats patients with congestive heart failure (CHF), hypertension, atrial fibrillation and coronary artery disease with a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG). We use protocols set by a cardiologist for different scenarios and complications that we follow with our patients. 

For many patients, we use telehealth, a monitoring system that connects patients with their healthcare team on a daily basis. This system monitors vital signs and symptoms and transfers the data directly to the home health office, where care and treatment plans are discussed with a physician and adjusted accordingly.

Patients typically receive one to three visits in home per week, depending on the diagnosis. We start out with a higher number of visits each week and taper down as the patient improves or better understands their diagnosis and treatment. 

Home health is beneficial for patients who no longer need to stay in the hospital, but still need care. Our team helps the patient and family adapt to lifestyle changes due to the diagnosis and become more aware of the prescribed medications as well as the uses and side effects of each. We review and instruct on any diet changes needed to help prevent exacerbation of their disease process. 

Our team performs an overall assessment of the patient each visit to coordinate care with the physician. We offer therapy following surgeries or when a patient has been in the hospital and become weak during their stay. If a complication arises with a surgical incision, we’ll monitor it and teach the patient, family and or caregiver how to care for it until it heals. 

For more information on UT Health Home Health services, click here or call 800-256-7091.

 

Keeping your heart healthy can have a great impact on your life. Heart disease is linked to many other health conditions, so practicing healthy heart habits not only will benefit your heart, but other areas of your health. For more information on cardiac care available at UT Health East Texas, click here. To find a doctor or schedule an appointment, call 903-596-DOCS.

Information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Heart Association, Cleveland Clinic, American Diabetes Association and the National Sleep Foundation.