Frequently Asked Questions about Cardiovascular Health and Conditions

Q: How does having diabetes effect my cardiovascular system and health?

A: Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is a major risk factor in the development of coronary and peripheral arterial disease.

Q: What is the difference between cholesterol, HDL and LDL?

A: Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like substance found in the bloodstream and in all your body’s cells. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL or ‘bad’) cholesterol can join with fats and other substances to build up in the inner walls of your arteries. The arteries can become clogged and narrow, and blood flow is reduced. High-density lipoprotein (HDL or ‘good’) carries harmful cholesterol away from the arteries, keeping them open.

Q: How can I improve my HDL, or “good cholesterol,” without taking medications?

A: Consuming monounsaturated fats can improve your HDL as well as reduce triglycerides and bad cholesterol (LDL). These include olive oils and other vegetable oils, nuts and avocados. Some foods such as peanuts, green peas, sunflower seeds and corn can also raise HDL. Other important strategies to raise HDL include a regular exercise program, alcohol in moderation and the cessation of smoking. Calcium supplements have also been shown to increase HDL levels.

Q: What is a stent?

A: A stent is a circular spring-like device. It is placed inside a blockage after a balloon procedure to prevent the blockage from collapsing and blocking the artery again.

Q: What is an angioplasty or coronary intervention?

A: Angioplasty or coronary intervention involves clearing a blockage in your coronary artery either with a balloon or some other device. Usually stent may be placed after the angioplasty.

Q: What is a heart catheterization and why do I need one?

A heart catheterization – otherwise known as heart cath, coronary angiogram or coronary arteriograms – is an invasive test to identify blockages in the coronary arteries or valvular heart disease. This information enables your cardiologist to appropriately treat you either with invasive therapy or with medications.

Q: My Cardiologist has F.A.C.C. after his name, what does it mean?

A: If your cardiology specialist adds F.A.C.C. – Fellow of the American College of Cardiology – to his or her name, it is a sign of significant accomplishment and commitment to a profession, to a specialty, and to the provision of the best health care for the patient.

Election to ACC membership is based on training, specialty board certification, scientific and professional accomplishments, length of active participation in a cardiovascular-related field, and peer recognition. Members are expected to conform to high moral and ethical standards

Q: Why can’t I eat or drink for four hours before my stress test?

A: One of our biggest concerns with consuming food or water before a nuclear or treadmill stress test is vomiting. The other concern is that during a nuclear stress test study the imaging agent goes to working muscles in the body; if the patient has been eating, the imaging agent will go to the stomach instead of the heart muscle.