Your Questions Answered
"I have cardiomyopathy and heart failure my EF was 20-25 after 3 months of medicine I am now at 43%. What are the chances of it going back down and how often should it be checked? Thank you, Yvette Yates"yyates01, Support Network Member
"Most patients who show improvement in heart muscle function on medications, maintain these good results. I recommend continue on meds, avoid excessive alcohol and continue to exercise. Congratulations, and good luck.Dr. Nasser Lakkis, Cardiology
Dr. Nasser Lakkis"
"Is it possible to strengthen the heart using growth hormone?"mikea98092, Support Network Member
"No data suggest that such an approach will work. There are medications that have been proven to improve heart function, I recommend you consult with your cardiologist for prescription and dosing.Dr. Nasser Lakkis, Cardiology
Thank you, Dr. Nasser Lakkis"
"I have just gone through double bypass surgery. It is 2 months later and I have be very short of breath. It occurs mostly during the hot weather and sometimes when I get anxious. Will this ever get better or am i living with this forever. My heart function is between 35 and 40%. Thank you Sandy"SandyColombo, Support Network Member
"Hello, this is a good question. Your Heart muscle function should improve after bypass and your shortness of breath should improve. Sometimes, bypasses may close down early after surgery. Also, make sure you do not have any fluid in the lungs. My suggestion is for you to talk to your doctor about finding out. A brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) test might be in order.Dr. Nasser Lakkis, Cardiology
Dr. Nasser Lakkis"
"I'd like to learn more about the connection between AFib and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, why going hyper causes palpitations, etc."ljhall, Support Network Member
"Thank you so much for this good question. Any disease that leads into hyperthyroidism (increase in secretion of thyroid hormones) can increase the stimulation of the electrical activity in the heart leading into atrial fibrillation. Similarly, an increase in the dose of throid replacement medicine can do the same. If you have concerns about this or need further information, please talk to your medical team.Dr. Nasser Lakkis, Cardiology
Dr. Nasser Lakkis"
"what are the stages of heart failure?"206Pearwood, Support Network Member
"There are 4 stages or classes of heart failure. However, I am not sure that is the question. Heart failure takes many forms and can be due to structural heart defects and their effect on the heart-lung interplay, or it can be due to a weakening of the heart muscle that leads to its inability to perform its function effectively. Heart failure can affect either the right side, or the left side, and can also be differentiated by whether it is manifested by how well the heart “squeezes” or how well it “relaxes.” In truth, it is difficult to understand the question without better understanding the context in which it is being asked.Dr. John Breinholt, Pediatric Cardiology
Thank you, Dr. Breinholt"
"does the numbness on the right side go away in time?"MM1942, Support Network Member
"Good morning,Joseph S. Kass, MD, JD, FAAN, Neurology
It can sometimes and sometimes not. If it’s been years and you still have numbness it is less likely than if it’s only been a few weeks.
Thank you, Dr. Joseph Kass"
"I had a stroke on March 13, 2017, I suffered with my left hand/arm at first, but after several months of therapy, I'm delighted to say I am pretty much back to normal. The one question I have is why does my left shoulder hurt? I 've read that it's stroke related. That it is my brain not connecting with my shoulder (sensory nerve). How long before this condition is gone?"glad2behere, Support Network Member
"It could be that you have some spasticity or some element of a decreased range of motion that is leading to a bit of frozen shoulder. I would see an orthopedic surgeon or physical therapist to have it evaluated.Joseph S. Kass, MD, JD, FAAN, Neurology
Thank you for this question. Dr. Kass"
"Have HBP, neuropathy in feet, polyps on Thyroid-recently diagnosed with CHF. I know the physical sci. of condition but, need help understanding how to care for myself."suewonder, Support Network Member
"Monitor BP daily and keep it under control. Do not gain weight. Check for fluid retention in feet and abdomen. Monitor how many pillows you put under your head at night to feel comfortable. I would be curious to know, what is is your heart ejection fraction? These are good topics to discuss with your health care team.Dr. Nasser Lakkis, Cardiology
"ive been told i have hbp since the age of 17 so i stopped going to doctor ... a friend died in his sleep and i feel like its time to do something... i have no insurance ive lost my job bit i don'twant to die yet where do i turn for help?"Niegusashidd, Support Network Member
"Hello, Most cities have a county hospital where patients may not need to pay for their health care if they are below the poverty level. Churches may help too. I know of many doctors who volunteer there.Dr. Nasser Lakkis, Cardiology
Though you for this question.
"I have been struggling to lower my bp for 18 years. I have changed my diet, quit smoking, and tried over 20 meds/med combinations. The meds make me horribly sick to the point I cannot complete ADL alone but don't actually lower my bp more than 5pts systolic. I feel just fine without the meds even though my pressure is thru the roof. I have been to several cardiologist, nephrologist, neurologist, over the years and none can find a combo or med that actually lowers my bp. Please help"asheehan34, Support Network Member
"Thank you for posting this question. Sorry I did not get your age with the email. Is your Potassium normal? How is your kidney function? You may have a secondary cause for your HTN which may need to be evaluated. Would be helpful to keep a chart of your BP 3-4 times a day for 2 weeks which may help to find the right meds. I suggest you talk to your doctor about next steps.Dr. Nasser Lakkis, Cardiology
"I had triple bi pass in 2008. I am on b/p meds and lipitor. I have had rapid heart beat in morning before I get up. after I sit for a few mins it goes back to normal. should I be on meds for this."Ellenlouise, Support Network Member
"First of all, I am glad you have done well after bypass. I assume you are having no chest pains or shortness of breath.Dr. Nasser Lakkis, Cardiology
Can you ask your doctor about taking one baby Aspirin (81mg) every day? Usually, patients like yourself are placed on beta blockers after bypass, are you on any beta blocker. These medicines usually control episodes of fast heart rate. You did not mention your ejection fraction (EF), which is a measure of the efficiency of your heart muscle. That may have to do with it.
My advice is to consult with your cardiologist and get at least a Holter monitor and re-evaluation of your heart condition.
Dr. Nasser Lakkis"
"My daughter had heart surgery at the young age of 2 months. She was diagnosed with Coarctation of the Aorta. She is now a beautiful young woman. Sometimes I worry that issues will arise as she gets older. Should I be worried? Thank you!"Guardmyheart, Support Network Member
"Children with congenital heart disease typically require routine follow-up throughout their lifetime. There are many defects that can be effectively managed with infrequent visits. Coarctation of the aorta is one defect that often only requires one surgery, however, there is a significant number of these children that will require an additional procedure, like a cardiac catheterization if the area has some narrowing that occurs with continued growth. A visit with your cardiologist should be sufficient to alleviate your concerns.Dr. John Breinholt, Pediatric Cardiology
Thank you, Dr. John Breinholt"
"hi. My name is ashma langford, 23 years of age. I lived in Dominica. I was born with a hole in my heart. "VSD". i;ve been struggling a lot through with this condition year round. And am seeking for some medical assistance and a other Doctor to give me a second chance with my condition. am i in the right place to get help or to get a doctor to help me? you can email @ firstname.lastname@example.org or call me @ 767 6174742. please help me."ashmal, Support Network Member
"Hello,Dr. John Breinholt, Pediatric Cardiology
There are medical missions that occur in the Dominican Republic on a regular basis. In truth, they often target children, but arrangements can be made to at least evaluate someone with a congenital defect. The biggest issue will be whether something can be done once a person is in their 20s. Depending on the size, some can be closed, while others cannot.
Dr. John Breinholt"
"My daughter was just diagnosed with Anomalous R coronary artery from left coronary sinus of valsalva. Is surgery the only option?"JCeryans, Support Network Member
"Anomalous coronary arteries are a challenging diagnosis. We know that many go undiagnosed, while some are encountered because of symptoms from the patient. More challenging is those that are found incidentally while looking at other things. The challenge is whether they will cause problems. There are a number of studies that can be done to help risk-stratify the coronary anomaly. In the end, however, if your cardiologist thinks that an intervention to correct the abnormality is necessary, the only way to address it is with surgery.Dr. John Breinholt, Pediatric Cardiology
Thank you for posting this,
Dr. John Breinholt"
"Trying to understand heart attack from a mental health perspective. My husband is 62 and had a heart attack -- actually cardiac arrest -- they said sudden cardiac death. He was revived through CPR. He is now back at work but I feel he is pushing himself. He is recovering from broken ribs from CPR and says he is tired but he keeps doing thing. I fear he is overdoing it. He is closed to talking about his experience. How can I help him?"Linda1957, Support Network Member
"We men have big egos. We try to prove to ourselves that everything is okay after our heart attacks by pushing ourselves to resume our normal activities. His cardiologist should specify to your husband and you just what he is allowed to do within safe limits at this time. If he pushes beyond those limits, then I would call your husband on it and point out that he is being reckless. You might also remind him that he wasn’t the only one who went through cardiac arrest—you did, too—and that his choices now have ramifications for the both of you. Caution is wisdom here.—Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D., AHA volunteer and co-author of AARP Meditations for Caregivers"Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D., Clinical Psychology
"Hello my brother suffered a stroke 4 months ago and its still a challenge for him to remember his kids name or his wife name. He also has difficulties saying his name. He has speech therapy twice a week still his progress is slow. My question is, can we as a family do things at home to help the process and how ling does this condition last"Winbern007, Support Network Member
"One option would be to make a memory book for your brother. You can place pictures of each family member in the book. Then, beside each picture write names, birthdates or any other important information. Ask him to read the information daily. Often times, patients that have difficulty speaking find it easier with reading.Joseph S. Kass, MD, JD, FAAN, Neurology
To help the patient say his name, reading in unison (together) can be very helpful. Also, practice saying his name while using tapping. (While saying his name out loud, tap your hand in rhythm on the table)
After a stroke, we know patients do not plateau as previously believed. Patients can continue to improve for years.
Thank you for this thought provoking question.
Reyna Bohmann M.A., CCC-SLP
Traci Kurkowski, D.H. Sc., M.S., CCC-SLP
Harris Health Stroke Team under the Stroke Medical Director Dr Kass"
"I am seeking a residential option for my husband, who is hemiplegic with spasticity from hemorrhagic stroke in 09. He is only 63. Are there facilities that are better suited for him as a patient than the standard nursing homes , which cater mostly to elderly, memory impaired patients?"bobbiet, Support Network Member
"Depending on where you and your family are located, a post-acute brain injury facility may be able to properly assist you in finding a good place for your husband that will help provide the best environment possible. I would google post-acute brain injury facilities and find the closest one near you and see if they can guide you.Joseph S. Kass, MD, JD, FAAN, Neurology
Thank you for asking this.
Stephanie M. Hessel, PT, DPT-answering on behalf of the Harris Health Stroke Team under the Stroke Medical Director Dr. Kass."
"My mother recently had a stroke a severe stroke the stroke she's not hungry she won't eat and she has no desire to eat anything at all . What was the left side of her that she's having the most problems with his she can't use her left side but like I said with the eating or lack of it introduces entirely new problem. Have you heard of this before and do you have any suggestions.?"Crzy5150, Support Network Member
"Thank you so much for this question. Some survivors experience a decreased sense of taste and smell. A few things that may help are choosing healthy options with strong flavors, choosing visually appealing foods, consider nutritional beverages/supplements and continuing to try new foods. I often hear comments from patients regarding the differences of what foods they “liked” and “disliked” before and after strokes. It sometimes changes significantly.Joseph S. Kass, MD, JD, FAAN, Neurology
Depression is common following a stroke and may cause a decreased appetite.
Please make sure that her physician is aware if she is exhibiting signs and symptoms of persistent sadness, anxiety, empty moods, loss of interest in activities, and feelings of hopelessness. If diagnosed and treated, one may begin to see a change in appetite and nutrition.
Best, Naylon Bird BSN, RN-BC, SCRN-answering on behalf of the Harris Health Stroke team led by Dr. Kass."
"Are heart disease and stroke related to each other? If my child has heart disease, could she have a stroke?"AHA/ASA Katie Bahn, Support Network Member
"In adults, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, hardening of the arteries, and diabetes can play key roles in stroke. However, this is less common in children. Children can have cardiac issues like congenital heart defects or acquired heart disease that can increase the risk of strokes. It is important for families to discuss the underlying cardiac condition and the risk of stroke with their physician.Dr. Nivedita Thakur, Pediatric Neurologist
Dr. Nivedita Thakure"
"Do children have the same stroke symptoms as adults?"AHAASAKatie, Support Network Member
"Strokes in children, especially infants and newborns, can present differently than in adults. The symptoms could be misdiagnosed with more common conditions that mimic a stroke like viral illness, migraines, or epilepsy.Dr. Nivedita Thakur, Pediatric Neurologist
-Change in mental status--Example: extreme sleepiness
-Using one side of the body more than the other
-Focal signs like weakness
-Change in mental status
-Sudden difficulty with speaking or comprehension
-Sudden vision problems
Should your child experience these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately."
"My baby had a stroke in utero. What are the main developmental achievements that I should look for as he grows?"AHA/ASA Katie Bahn, Support Network Member
"Monitoring development will be important, especially milestones that a baby should achieve by a certain age.Dr. Nivedita Thakur, Pediatric Neurologist
Development can be impacted by areas damaged in the brain. Thus the location and extent of injury are important factors. Another important aspect is brain plasticity. Brain plasticity can be seen in babies because the brain is developing and so different parts of the brain or an undamaged area in the same location can take over function. Therefore it is difficult to predict exactly how much difficulty a child will have in the future.
It’s important to follow development closely and get them in therapy to help practice skills they may be struggling with. This will allow the brain to use the pattern of repetition to build pathways that may have been disturbed due to the injury.
Thank you, Dr. Nivedita Thakur"
"What Causes a Pediatric Strokes in children?"AHA/ASA Katie Bahn, Support Network Member
"Strokes in children can be caused by a variety of factors:Dr. Nivedita Thakur, Pediatric Neurologist
Cardiac: Examples--Congenital heart defects or Acquired heart disease
Hematologic: Examples--Sickle cell disease or Clotting disorders
Infection: Examples--Meningitis or Encephalitis
Vascular: Examples--AVM malformation or Moyamoya
Metabolic or Genetic: Examples--Marfan syndrome or MELAS (Mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes)
Trauma: Example--head and neck trauma"
"I'm a caregiver of an adult Schizophrenic son . I am also a person who had 1 heart attack and now has what they call 'broken heart syndrome '."Krossin303, Support Network Member
"The fact that you have “broken heart syndrome”—a temporary condition in which stress hormones cause one area of the heart to stop pumping normally—suggests that you are under great duress. Is it the heart attack or your caregiving for your son (or both) that is affecting you so? Physiological symptoms of stress are the body’s signals that you need to reduce the stress you are under. I’m sure that’s easier said than done. But is it possible to change your caregiving plan, at least in the short term, by getting increased help for your son? Are there ways you can focus on increasing your self-care activities (e.g., proper sleep, diet and exercise)? You have survived your heart attack and have been given another chance at life. Your well-being and your son’s depend on your ability to make necessary changes.—Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D., AHA volunteer and co-author of AARP Meditations for Caregivers"Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D., Clinical Psychology
"My husband had a stroke 4 months ago to the brain stem. He is walking, talking, and appears to be almost back to his normal self. He is however easily frustrated and is having trouble making decisions. His doctor thinks he is perfectly recovered. I don't think so, he is still having cognitive issues that are not apparent to people that did not know him before the stroke. How can I talk to his doctor without upsetting my husband?"taggartc, Support Network Member
"You probably have the greatest insight into what has changed in your husband’s behavior as you spend the most time with him. His doctor will appreciate the ‘big things’ like walking and talking, but you probably can see the more subtle changes that only someone who lives with the patient might appreciate. That’s understandable. These changes may or may not return to normal. It’s worth raising your concerns with your husband. It sounds like you don’t mean to be critical. You are simply concerned and want to make sure any residual changes are evaluated and addressed. Then perhaps you can talk to his doctor together. Separately, it can be tough to be a caregiver and the emotional burden can take a toll. Make sure you are getting the support and counseling you need.Dr Reena Pande, Cardiologist-focus on Emotional Well Being
Thank you for this thoughtful question.
Dr. Reena Pande"
"Being a relatively young, single (61) widow maker (100% Blockage) survivor which was followed by a stroke and double pneumothorax, it is difficult going through this alone.. My doctors did not think I would survive. I keep asking people to go to lunch or dinner, but they are busy with their jobs and families. My family is less than supportive, which is nothing new. I have sought counseling, but cannot find anyone who is accepting both new patients and my insurance. I know depression is setting in making it even more difficult to become involved. I want to do something about it but am unable to get the initiative after having been turned down so many times. Thoughts or suggestions?"Samplake, Support Network Member
"Nearly 1 out of every 4 patients with heart disease suffers from major clinical depression in the wake of a cardiac event. So you are not alone. First off, the American Heart Association’s Support Network is a wonderful online community where you can find others just like you who have similar medical experiences and may be feeling exactly as you are. The emotional well-being forum in the community may be a great place to start. Separately, it is unfortunately how challenging it can be to get the help you need. You might start by calling your insurance company or looking on their website to try to find counselors covered within your network. Your primary care doctor and even a cardiac rehab team can be a great resource. Increasingly, there are digital tools and online therapy resources that may be covered under your insurance as well. Addressing your emotional well-being and ensuring you are supported is an important component of recovery."Dr Reena Pande, Cardiologist-focus on Emotional Well Being
"How do other caregivers without any family help manage 24/7 care and still stay caring, seamlessly available, and always uplifting? He is in a wheelchair and gets help with nearly all tasks."JaneV, Support Network Member
"First off, know that you are not alone in how you feel. There are roughly 40 million adults in the US who are serving as caregivers, often for ailing or aging parents. Caregivers do a variety of tasks from activities of daily living like shopping, feeding, and even bathing to providing more medical or nursing care. On average, family caregivers spend more than 20 hours a week taking care of their family member. I’ve been one of them. And I know it’s not easy. And I’ll readily admit I was not always caring, available, or uplifting. And I’m a physician… You and I are not alone. Studies show that as many as one-half of caregivers report significant emotional stress. Not only that, if you are employed, being a caregiver can have an impact on your work productivity, and we also know that caregiver stress can impact the health of the caregiver too. It’s expected and normal to feel stress as a caregiver. But it’s equally important to seek support and help to make sure you take care of yourself, emotionally and physically. Consider talking to your physician, or exploring a support group or individual therapy. Taking care of you will make you more able to take care of others.Dr Reena Pande, Cardiologist-focus on Emotional Well Being
Thank you for this great question. Dr. Reena Pande
This question originally posted in the caregiver section. The AHA reposted in the Emotional Well-Being section as the emotional health of caregivers relevant as well."
"I am a 25 year old Type 1 Diabetic with depression and a terrible binge/sugar eating disorder. Where do I begin? How do I stop eating foods that are literally killing me? I know what I should eat, I just can't fight the cravings. I don't want to die young from complications, and I feel I'm heading there."smagnolia49, Support Network Member
"The first and most important step is recognizing that you have an issue that you need to address. Depression is common amongst patients with diabetes. Not only does having a condition increase the risk of developing or having worsening depression. But also, depression makes it much more challenging to take care of yourself, sleep, eat right, take medications, and stick with all the lifestyle changes your doctor might be recommending. It sounds like you would benefit from both emotional support and from nutritional support. You will be able to understand better how your mood affects your eating habits and how better managing your emotional well-being can have an impact on food intake and how that affects your diabetes. Talk to your doctor about getting support for both.Dr Reena Pande, Cardiologist-focus on Emotional Well Being
Thank you for bringing this question to me. Dr. Reena Pande"