Tag Archives: heart disease

Is White Coat Hypertension Causing You Undue Worry?

Over one third of Americans suffer hypertension: the silent killer. We took a look at masked hypertension (when someone experiences higher ambulatory blood pressure readings than those in the doctor’s office) in our last post, and up next, we’d like to check out its opposite phenomena: white coat hypertension.

White Coat Syndrome

White coat syndrome (or effect) refers to a fairly common type of nervousness or anxiety people experience when visiting doctors. The term ‘white coat’ derives from the fact that medical doctors traditionally wore white jackets. This type of anxiety can spur from a distrust of doctors based on bad past experiences, a worry of receiving the wrong treatment, or perhaps from a fear of hearing bad news from a doctor. It is common to feel stressed about visiting the doctor, especially if you are waiting for results or undergoing an examination. It is estimated that nearly 20% of Americans suffer from some degree of white coat syndrome.

What is White Coat Hypertension?

White coat hypertension is an offshoot of white coat syndrome. It occurs when a person is anxious to have their blood pressure taken or be examined by a physician, so their blood pressure numbers present much higher in the doctor’s office than if measured at home. Generally, a person’s blood pressure should only vary by a few millimeters of mercury (mmHg) when taken at the doctor’s office versus at another location. This means no more of a variance than 10mmHg for the top number (systolic) and 5mmHg for the bottom number (diastolic). People with white coat hypertension may have a large fluctuation in their readings at a doctor’s office and relatively normal blood pressure when measured throughout the day at home.

Could White Coat Hypertension Lead to A Misdiagnosis?

While it is possible that a doctor may misdiagnose a person experiencing white coat hypertension as having actual hypertension, this would likely be a rare occurrence as most physicians would double check with ambulatory readings (using a portable blood pressure monitor at home). If a doctor suspects high blood pressure due to several in-office readings, they often suggest home monitoring for a 24-hour period or longer to cross check with their own readings to ensure the diagnosis is accurate before proceeding with treatment. If your doctor does not suggest home monitoring before trying to prescribe blood pressure treatment, you should certainly request it.

What Can be Done To Prevent White Coat Hypertension?

If you know you are experiencing this phenomenon, it is important to try to de-stress before entering a doctor’s office. You should also let your doctor know that your home readings have been in the normal range so that no unnecessary treatment ensues. If you are having trouble bringing your anxiety level down before visiting a doctor, take a look at some of our stress busters. People with more severe white coat syndrome may need to seek psychological therapy to figure out the root of their fear of medical environments and work toward dealing with it.

Can White Coat Hypertension Turn into Hypertension?

Yes. While it is common for everyone’s blood pressure to fluctuate during the run of a day, it is possible that someone who experiences significant stress-related blood pressure spikes may go on to develop high blood pressure. For this reason, you will likely continue to be monitored by your doctor (and at home) to ensure your blood pressure is in check in the future as well.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! Remember, our qualified, board-certified doctors are standing by 24/7/365 to assist with any of your health-related inquiries! If you find it difficult to physically go to the doctor, telemedicine may be worth a try for you!


Tips For A Healthier Heart (Part 2)

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming over 610,000 lives annually. It is important that we all do everything we can to help lower our individual risks of developing heart disease. We looked at some heart-healthy tips in our last post, now let’s take a look at the rest:

Put Out That Cigarette For Good!

You’re well aware of how damaging smoking can be to the lungs, but did you know it can be just as bad for your heart? Smoking damages the walls of your arteries which can lead to a buildup of plaque (atherosclerosis). This can lead to heart disease or stroke. You should also note that second-hand smoke also raises your risk of heart disease.

Apple-shaped? Beware!

Those who tend to carry most of their weight around their midsection are at higher risk of developing cardiovascular complications, as the abdomen is the worst place for excess fat to reside. This fat is closer to all the major organs and it also increases a person’s risk of having higher triglyceride and blood sugar levels. If you have a bit of an ‘apple thing’ going on, it may be in your best interest to start shedding some of those extra pounds today!

Try HIIT to Get Fit

So, we’ve established that anyone carrying extra weight should do their best to get down to a healthier BMI. There are endless ways to do this, but if you’re looking for a great way to work out that heart while you work off those calories, high intensity interval training (HIIT) may be just the thing for you. Studies have found that stopping and starting exercise in short intervals may be one of the most efficient ways to burn calories fast.

Watch All Of Your Numbers!

We all know it is important to watch the scale, especially if you are concerned about extra weight putting you at higher risk for disease, but you should also keep an eye on what the blood pressure cuff may be trying to tell you. If you have high (or drastically low) blood pressure, or even borderline high, you should be keeping an eye on that and trying to calibrate it. Also, you should get your cholesterol checked regularly and have your doctor show you your numbers so you know if you should start watching it. Another number to keep an eye on? Your age. Even though you can’t prevent getting older, as you age your risk of developing heart disease increases as well. Because of this, you should start being even more vigilant and living healthier as you climb in years.

Healthy Mouth, Healthier Heart!

Numerous studies have pointed out the link between gum disease and heart disease. If you strive to take good care of your teeth and gums, you may lower your risk of heart disease in the process!

There you have some tips to set you on a better path to heart health! Thanks for visiting DocChat!



Tips For A Healthier Heart (Part 1)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming over 610,000 lives annually. Because of the alarming statistics, it is important that we all do everything we can to help lower our individual risks of developing heart disease. Some factors cannot be prevented or changed, but some of the things you can do to lower your risk include:

Trim The Fat

We are all a little guilty of having too much fat in our diets from time to time, but if you notice a large portion of foods you eat contain saturated fats, you should re-evaluate your diet. The USDA advises people to consume no more than 7% of their daily caloric intake in saturated fat.

Feed Your Heart Right

The type of foods you choose to fuel your body can have a big impact on your heart. By choosing lots of produce, whole grains and low fat dairy and limiting red meat, junk food and refined carbs, you’re doing your heart a better service. Try to include foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids as well, such as nuts, seeds and fish.

Nip Cortisol in the Bud

Stress can be a killer, especially when the heart is involved. While the link between type-A personalities and heart disease is still being debated, it is clear that too much stress isn’t great for the heart. According to the World Heart Federation, acute stress can raise blood pressure, alter the way the heart beats and lead to reduced blood flow to the heart which can cause (or worsen) blood clotting. So, if you tend to get very stressed easily, you should try to curb those tendencies to do your heart a favor in the long run.

Nab A New Hobby

A great way to chronically destress is to take up something that keeps the hands and mind busy like wood working, coloring, painting, playing an instrument or knitting. When you find yourself frustrated or stressed, pick up your hobby where you left off last to help chill out.

Pump it Up

Getting your heart rate higher than its norm each day will help get your blood circulating more efficiently, and in turn help condition your whole system. Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly will help put you in a better position to stave off heart disease or other chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes.

Thanks for visiting DocChat, stay tuned for the rest of our heart healthy tips next!


7 Surprising Health Benefits of Honey

Honey is more than a sweet treat courtesy of the bees, it actually has many health merits. Some of which include:

  1. Protection against harmful oxidative stresswhen free radicals over-replicate, they destroy cells which can lead to cancer when the mutated cells replicate. Honey contains antioxidants, which help defend the cells against oxidative stress. Antioxidants are instrumental in disease prevention, particularly cancer.
  2. Helping stomach conditionshoney is antibacterial because the bees add hydrogen peroxide during the process of making it. Largely because of its antibiotic properties, research illustrates that honey can help in the treatment of such stomach conditions as bacterial gastroenteritis. It can also help with wound healing.
  3. Soothing a sore throat – Singers have been using honey to sooth irritated throats for decades, and science says they were on to something. One study of over 100 children showed that a dose of honey was as effective as a dose of cough syrup in quelling cough and throat symptoms so sick children can sleep.
  4. A natural analgesic – Honey has shown to reduce pain perception in lab rats.
  5. Anti-inflammatory properties – honey has long been used to help inflammation, as it has natural anti-inflammatory Some studies suggest it may be offer supplemental help in the treatment of such inflammatory conditions as arthritis.
  6. Helps improve skin – honey is also a natural moisturizer, so it can help hydrate the skin. It can also help with the inflammation and bacteria caused by acne. Honey can relieve inflammation and prevent a breakout after shaving as well.
  7. May help with heart disease Surprisingly, studies have shown that honey may help increase antioxidants in the blood, which can help prevent narrowing of the arteries.

Even though honey has many health benefits, it still has its drawbacks as well, so as the old saying goes, “everything in moderation”. Adding some more honey to your diet may be helpful, especially if you are having stomach issues, a sore throat or have heart disease or cancer risk factors. Thanks for visiting DocChat! We hope you’ll return again soon.

10 Types of Cardiovascular Disease

According to the CDC, heart (cardiovascular) disease is the leading cause of death in American for both men and women, causing over 600,000 deaths annually. There are many types of heart disease, 10 of the most common are:

  1. Ischemic heart disease often results in a partial blockage caused by a lack of oxygenated blood to the heart (ischemia). This causes such symptoms as angina (chest pain), shortness of breath (SOB). If ischemia leads to a complete blockage, a heart attack will ensue.
  2. Cardiac arrest also known as a myocardial infraction, happens when there is not enough oxygen flowing to the heart because of a blockage. Most heart attacks are a result of coronary heart disease (CHD).
  3. Coronary heart disease develops when plaque builds up in the arteries (atherosclerosis), causing them to become hardened and clogged. Eventually these clogged arteries can lead to a heart attack because blockages don’t let enough oxygenated blood reach the heart.
  4. Cerebrovascular diseases are conditions that adversely affect blood supply to the brain, one of the main types of cerebrovascular disease is stroke.
  5. Heart failure happens when a person’s heart doesn’t pump strongly enough to circulate blood properly around the entire body, often not reaching the extremities which results in swelling in the legs and ankles, exercise intolerance and SOB. Heart failure can be caused by many things including a heart condition called cardiomyopathy or excess alcohol consumption.
  6. Congenital heart disease is a structural abnormality of the heart resulting from a birth defect. These can be minor, or cause severe disability or even death if not properly surgically corrected.
  7. Arrhythmia – An arrhythmia disrupts the heart’s normal electrical impulses causing irregular heartbeats. They range from mild to life-threatening. Some of the main symptoms include: dizziness, syncope (fainting or near-fainting), weakness, sensations of irregular beats.
  8. Aneurysm is a condition whereby an artery wall weakens and abnormally expands. They can occur in different places in the body, but an aortic aneurysm happens in the heart’s major artery. If they burst they can cause pain, clamminess, shock, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure or vomiting.
  9. Hypertensive heart disease occurs when a person experiences chronically elevated blood pressure which can eventually overburden the heart, leading to other types of heart disease or a cardiac episode.
  10. Inflammatory heart disease happens when there is inflammation in and around the heart which can lead to deadly complications if left untreated.

There many are other types of heart disease such as rheumatic and vascular heart disease as well. It is important to seek emergency treatment if you are experiencing these symptoms, or any others that could be related to a cardiac emergency. Thanks for visiting DocChat!

Know The Symptoms of a Heart Attack so You Can Act Fast

A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infraction, occurs when the supply of oxygenated blood to the heart is cut off or drastically reduced. This happens because of artherosclerosis, a build up of plaque on the artery walls which leads to narrow, hardened arteries and sometimes complete blockages. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, and approximately 730,000 Americans have a heart attack annually. Because of these startling numbers, it is vitally important to know the signs and symptoms of acute heart trouble so you can take immediate action and hopefully experience a better outcome.

What Are Common Symptoms Of A Heart Attack?

Some heart attacks are immediate but others come on gradually, so it is important to act quickly if you experience:

  1. Chest pain or discomfort (many women experience only a feeling of “pressure” in the chest)
  2. Shortness of breath
  3. Nausea or vomiting (along with other symptoms)
  4. Unusual pain in your upper body like your shoulders, neck or jaw
  5. Upper stomach discomfort that may feel similar to heartburn
  6. Syncope (fainting)
  7. Extreme unexplained and sudden fatigue
  8. Cold sweats

Symptoms May be Different for Everyone

Other symptoms include anxiety or unexplained fear, light-headedness or faintness. It is also important to know that men are more likely to experience classic symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath, whereas many women experience less chest pain, more jaw pain and nausea.

Know the Difference Between a Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest

While a heart attack often has several symptoms, as we mentioned above, a cardiac arrest is often more sudden and comes with little warning. According to ACLS Medical training, a cardiac arrest occurs when the natural electrical conduction of the heart is interrupted by an arrhythmia, causing the person to collapse until they are revived. A cardiac arrest can be fatal unless immediate CPR or emergency defibrillation action is taken.

Don’t Wait Around – Take Action!

If you (or a loved one) are experiencing the above listed symptoms, don’t try to be a hero by ‘waiting it out’. Take immediate action. Of those who die of heart attacks, half die within the first hour of symptoms before even reaching the hospital. The earlier you receive emergency medical treatment, the better your chances of a positive outcome. If the heart is without oxygenated blood for too long you could die or become severely disabled for life. If you are wrong and aren’t having a heart attack, there is no harm done by seeking treatment. So, know the signs, know your own body and act fast.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! Stay happy and healthy!




20 Conditions That Are Linked to Obesity

Obesity occurs when a person’s weight is over 20% higher than the healthy range for their height, or a person who has a body mass index of over 30. People who are obese have excess body fat than puts them at higher risk of developing many health complications such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

20 Conditions That Can be Influenced by Obesity

Of course not all people with these conditions are obese, and not all obese people will go on to contract health problems such as these. Diseases are complex, and often develop from a culmination of different risk factors such as lifestyle or family history. However, people who are obese are at much greater risk of developing these health problems or worsening existing health issues such as these:

  1. Diabetes
  2. Gallstones
  3. Osteoarthritis
  4. Gout
  5. Fatty liver disease
  6. Pregnancy complications
  7. Skin problems
  8. Lymphedema
  9. Atherosclerosis
  10. Metabolic disorders
  11. Cardiovascular disease
  12. Stroke
  13. Kidney disease
  14. Asthma
  15. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
  16. Hypertension
  17. High cholesterol
  18. Sleep apnea
  19. Clinical depression
  20. Certain types of cancer

What Can You Do To Lower These Risks?

The best way to lower your risk of developing these health problems is to eat a healthy, balanced diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking or drinking in excess. If you are obese or overweight, try your best to lose enough weight to fall into a healthy range for your height. If you are having problems losing weight on your own, talk to your doctor (or one of ours!) today for help, such as a referral to a dietitian or individualized medical advice. 

Find the Right Exercise for You

Not everyone is a “gym person”, but where are plenty of ways to workout that don’t involve expensive memberships and other people. Take a look through some of our fitness posts:

50 Exercises You Can do Almost Anywhere

Hobbies That Can Double as Exercise

10 Simple Ways to Exercise Around the House

7 Fall Fitness Ideas

5 Strange but Cool Workout Trends

Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you have any health-related concerns, our board certified physicians are standing by 24/7/365 to assist you.

5 Causes of Fluid Retention

Fluid retention, medically know as edema, is a type of swelling that occurs when something malfunctions in the body and causes a build up of fluid in the tissues. We’ll be checking out 5 of the most common causes of edema today:

  1. Lymphatic problems – Because the lymphatic system is responsible for draining fluid from the tissues and sending it into the bloodstream, if it backfires or can’t work quickly enough, excess fluid begins accumulating in the body. Lymphatic disorders such as lymphedema can result in massive buildups of fluid in the lower limbs.
  2. Heart conditions – Many heart conditions such as congestive heart failure can cause swelling in the lower limbs, markedly the legs and ankles. This occurs because the heart isn’t strong enough to circulate blood around the entire body, resulting in neglected lower limbs.
  3. Kidney disorder – One of the common signs of kidney disorders such as chronic kidney disease (CKD) is fluid retention in the lower limbs because kidneys that aren’t working properly fail to filter or remove excess fluid.
  4. Allergies – In response to an allergen, your mast cells trigger the release of histamine, a chemical that causes surrounding blood vessels to leak fluid in the area which causes swelling.
  5. Diabetes – If left uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to poor circulation which often causes swelling of the legs, ankles and feet. In extreme cases, blood supply may be almost completely cut off to a lower limb, causing nerve damage and dead tissue, leading to terrible sores or amputation.

Other Causes of Edema

Other medical issues can cause swelling as well, such as:

  • An injury (typically causes a different type of swelling)
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Sodium-rich diet
  • Certain medications
  • Thyroid or hormonal issues
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Pregnancy

When to Seek Medical Attention

Swelling is usually cause for concern, as it is often your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Because it can be a symptom of serious underlying health problems like heart or kidney disease, you should consult your doctor (or one of ours!) if you have been experiencing edema so he or she can perform the necessary tests.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! Remember, our board certified physicians are standing by 24/7/365 so help with any medical-related issues you may have.



Heart Matters – OTC Meds That Can Exacerbate Heart Problems

If you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure) or a type of cardiovascular disease, you have to live strategically to ensure a long and healthy life. That means making changes such as avoiding certain foods, getting more exercise, limiting drinking and smoking, but the caution doesn’t end there. Certain OTC medications and supplements can dangerously exasperate existing heart problems by raising blood pressure or causing interactions with heart medications, and the results could be deadly. Some medications to watch out for include:

  1. Phenylephrine-containing medications – such as certain allergy medications or hemorrhoid creams shrink blood vessels, thereby interfering with heart or stroke medications.
  2. NSAIDs – such as naproxen, ibuprofen or toradol can significantly increase blood pressure, putting you at a higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
  3. Decongestants – can both raise blood pressure and decrease the effectiveness of heart medications, largely because they may contain a mixture of NSAIDs and pseudoephedrine. Talk to your doctor before trying sinus or cold and flu decongestants.
  4. Migraine medications – bring pain down by constricting blood vessels in your head, which could contribute to the risk of heart attack or stroke.
  5. Some antibiotics – research illustrates that macrolide antibiotics such as azithromycin can actually change the electrical impulses of the heart, causing rapid heart rate or even an arrhythmia. Be sure to ask your doctor what kind of antibiotic would be better for your condition if you have an infection and also take heart medications.


If you have a heart condition (especially if you take heart medications) you should be extremely careful with vitamins and dietary supplements as they are not closely regulated by the FDA like medications are. Many can interfere with how well your medication will work or may worsen a heart condition. While there a few that have proven to be beneficial to the heart such as fish oil (though it is better to obtain it naturally through a diet rich in fatty fish and nuts), many supplements can cause serious problems. Some of the worst offenders that can speed up blood pressure or interact with medications are:

  • Weight loss supplements
  • John’s Wort
  • Garlic
  • Glucosamine
  • Ginseng
  • Evening primrose oil
  • Danshen
  • Dong quai

This isn’t a comprehensive list, so be sure to talk to your doctor and pharmacist before trying any OTC medications or supplements as you never know the damage they may do to an already weak heart. Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you have any health concerns, our excellent board certified doctors are standing by 24/7/365.




Heart Matters – 40 Important Questions to Find Answers For (Part 2)

If you have a heart problem (or recently suffered a heart attack) and have an upcoming appointment with your family doctor or cardiologist, it is important you ask the appropriate questions that will help you learn more about your condition and overall health. The answers to these questions will help you better understand what you can do to help better your quality of life. In part 1 of Heart Matters – 40 Questions to Find Answers For, we looked at fitness level, surgery and diagnostics. Next we’ll take a look at diet, medication and outlook questions for you to ask your doctor:


  1. Do I need to follow a low sodium diet, or are my levels and blood pressure fine?
  2. Are there any particular foods I should be avoiding? How much alcohol can I safely drink, for example?
  3. Are there certain foods (such as those containing omega-3 fatty acids) you suggest I introduce into my diet?
  4. Are there any dietary supplements which may be dangerous for my condition that I should avoid?
  5. Are there any dietary supplements I should start taking to better my condition?

Heart Medications:

  1. How often, at what times and what dosage should I take my heart medication?
  2. Is it dangerous to miss a dose? What will happen if I do?
  3. How will this medication interact with the other medications (such as birth control) I am taking? What schedule should I follow to ensure all of my medications will be effective?
  4. Are there any common side effects of this medication I should watch out for?
  5. Should I take daily baby aspirin as well or will the benefits not outweigh the risks for me?

Other Conditions:

  1. Do I have high blood pressure? Should I be monitoring it? What is the target range I should be looking to fall under?
  2. How are my cholesterol levels? Should these be monitored every few months?
  3. I have diabetes (or another chronic condition), how will my heart problem impact my other disease(s)? Do I have to take special precautions?
  4. Is my heartrate stable and regular? Should I be tested for an arrhythmia?
  5. Am I at higher risk for developing other diseases because of my heart disease? How can I lower my risk?

Maintenance and Outlook:

  1. Am I at risk for future heart attacks? How can I better my odds?
  2. Am I at higher risk for a stroke because of my cardiovascular condition? How can I prevent this?
  3. Should I see another type of heart specialist in the future such as a vascular surgeon? Or should I see a dietician to help me formulate a personalized heart-healthy diet plan?
  4. Will my heart disease affect my job or vice versa? Should I ease back on work stress?
  5. Should I seek emotional support such as a support group for my condition? What mental health resources are available to help me cope?

All these questions will be a good start in helping you learn more about your condition and what will best help it, but you should try to write down any questions that come to mind so you make the best of your appointment. Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you would like to direct any of these questions to us, our doctors are on stand-by 24/7/365 to help!