Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Each year, more than 10,000 people lose their lives to cardiovascular disease, but the pioneering health care professionals at UofL Physicians – Cardiovascular Medicine are working to reverse those trends and help you and your loved ones live longer, healthier lives.
Our cardiology practice takes pride in being able to offer you the most advanced treatments available, with the widest range of procedures possible. Our cardiology doctors are dedicated to using their knowledge, skill and experience to improve the quality of your health because we believe that technology is best when it can help you enjoy the simple pleasures in life.
A longtime leader in cardiology, UofL Physicians offers some of the most advanced heart care available. Many of the cardiologists within the practice are on the faculty of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, bringing to their patients' innovative technology through the research conducted within the university.
Many of our physicians are also members of the Institute of Molecular Cardiology, which was formed by the University of Louisville in 2001 and has become a leading program in cardiovascular research both nationally and internationally. The Institute has made extraordinary contributions in many fields, particularly myocardial ischemia/reperfusion injury, cardioprotection, environmental cardiology, diabetes, heart failure, stem cells, and regenerative cardiology and performed the first study of cardiac stem cells in humans.
When to see a cardiologist
Heart disease is a broad term used to describe a range of diseases that affect your heart and blood vessels. The various diseases that fall under the umbrella of heart disease include diseases of your blood vessels, such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias), heart valve problems (narrowing or leaks of the valves), heart infections, heart defects you’re born with (congenital heart defects) and heart tumors.
The term “heart disease” is often used interchangeably with “cardiovascular disease.” Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, (angina) or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as infections and conditions that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or beating rhythm are also considered forms of heart disease. UofL Physicians - Cardiovascular Medicine specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of all diseases that affect your heart.
Conditions we treat
- Heart attack (coronary thrombosis, myocardial infarction): A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to the heart is blocked by a blood clot. If the clot blocks the flow to the heart completely, the artery will begin to die. Many people survive their first heart attack; however, many lifestyle changes will need to be made and medications could be prescribed. Common treatments other than medicine include coronary angioplasty and coronary artery bypass graft surgery.
- Coronary artery disease (CAD): A condition that develops when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries (atherosclerosis). This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can block the blood flow and can potentially cause a heart attack or stroke.
- Angina: Chest pain
- Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat): There are different types of arrhythmia. The heart beating too fast, too slow or irregularly. Tachycardia refers to a heart rate that is over 100 beats per minute. Bradycardia refers to a heart rate that is less than 60 beats per minute. An irregular heartbeat may cause your body not to get the nourished blood that it needs. Common treatments for arrhythmia include medications and a pacemaker.
- Atherosclerosis: Narrowed and hardened blood vessels through plaque buildup
- Atrial fibrillation: Fast and irregular heartbeat
- Cardiomyopathy: A weak or enlarged heart muscle
- Carotid artery disease: Atherosclerosis in the arteries that supply blood to the brain
- Congenital or acquired structural heart diseases: A problem with the structure of the heart, usually present at birth. It can involve the walls or the valves of the heart, and the arteries and veins near the heart.
- Congestive heart failure: A decrease in the heart’s pumping ability. It is not pumping blood as well as it should to meet the body's needs for blood and oxygen. Heart failure can occur if the heart cannot fill (diastolic) or pump (systolic) adequately. Heart failure does not mean that the heart stops beating; however, it can get a lot worse if left untreated.
- Endocarditis: Infection of the heart’s inner lining (endocardium) and valves
- High blood pressure/hypertension: High blood pressure directly increases the risk of coronary heart disease (which leads to heart attack), stroke, heart failure and kidney failure, especially when combined with other risk factors.
- Hypercholesterolemia/Hyperlipidemia: Chronic high levels of cholesterol in the blood, largely exacerbated by diet.
- Narrowed and leaky heart valves (valvular heart disease): When heart valves narrow and do not open enough to allow the blood to flow through, a condition called stenosis results. When the heart valves do not close properly and thus allow blood to leak through, it is called regurgitation. If the valve leaflets bulge or prolapse back into the upper chamber it is a condition called prolapse. Common treatments for heart valve problems include medications and heart valve surgery. Includes mitral valve prolapse, aortic stenosis, mitral stenosis and more.
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD): Occurs when arteries outside the heart and brain become blocked.
- Stroke: Affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. An ischemic stroke (the most common type of stroke), occurs when a blood vessel that feeds the brain gets blocked, usually from a blood clot. Brain cells will begin to die when this blood flow is cut off. This can result in a loss of functions that the brain controls including walking and talking. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a brain vessel in the brain bursts; this usually is related to hypertension (high blood pressure). If too many brain cells die from the stroke, the effects can be permanent; however, if the brain cells do not die they have a chance to repair themselves and you can recover over time.
- Tobacco dependency
- Ventricular Tachycardia: A condition in which the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) beat very quickly, usually caused by a problem with the heart's electrical impulses.
The signs and symptoms that relate to heart disease vary widely and can include:
- Chest pain, tightness, pressure and discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your arms or legs
- Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back
Common symptoms are chest pain and shortness of breath. However, some people have no signs or symptoms. This is called silent Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). It may not be diagnosed until a person shows signs and symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure or arrhythmia. Know your risks and talk to your health care provider about CAD. Taking action to control your risk factors can help prevent or delay CAD.
Take action and lower your risk
- Eat a healthy diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium
- Keep your weight under control
- Be physically active at least 30 minutes on most or all days of the week
- Control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Manage your blood sugar if you have diabetes
- Get regular medical check-ups
- Talk to your doctor about a prevention plan and medicines that may be right for you
- Do not smoke and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke
- Fast action can save lives. Call 911 or visit the nearest ER if you think you or someone else is having a heart attack
Need a cardiologist?