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One in every four deaths is linked to heart disease. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the most common type of heart disease affecting Americans right now. More than 700,000 Americans will have a heart attack this year alone. The most important defense against this disease is education and knowing when you need to act!

Harlingen Medical Center, a leader in cardiovascular care, in observance of National Heart Month (February), will devote a month-long series of its Doc Talk Lectures to some of the most important medical topics related to your heart – starting Wednesday, February 1, 2017, at 6:00 p.m., in the Harlingen Medical Center Medical Office Building (MOB) Conference Room, located 5505 S. Expressway 77 in Harlingen.

“Heart disease can affect just about anyone. That includes adults and children,” said Linda Bull, Director of The Catheterization Laboratory at Harlingen Medical Center. “Heart disease knows no limits essentially because this is a condition that develops in the arteries. A substance called plaque builds up in the arteries and over time it can narrow an artery causing a reduction in the blood flow to the heart, which can lead to a heart attack.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, symptoms of heart disease vary depending on the type of disease, which may include chest discomfort or a heart attack. Someone having a heart attack may experience several symptoms, including:

  • Chest pain of discomfort that doesn’t go away within a few minutes.
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
  • Weakness, light-headedness, nausea, or a cold sweat.
  • Pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulder.
  • Shortness of breath.

Heart disease can be managed and even prevented, according to the CDC. It’s all matter of knowing what you need to do – to keep the disease away.

The CDC summarizes that if you smoke, consume unhealthy food, and do not exercise (physical activity) – your chances of developing heart disease increase. But, if you do not smoke, maintain a healthy weight, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, you are less likely to develop the disease.

Heart disease refers to several types of heart conditions that include: coronary artery disease, malfunction of valves in the heart, the inability of the heart to pump correctly, and abnormal heart rhythms. And, this February, specialty physicians (cardiologist and electrophysiologist) from Harlingen Medical Center’s Cardiovascular Center will host heart-related educational lectures.

The first Doc Talk Lecture, scheduled for Wednesday, February1st, will feature one of the most experienced cardiologists in the region, Dr. Shereef Hilmy. His lecture, titled “Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm” will define what this condition is, how you can identify it ahead of a serious medical issue, and how it can be treated.

The second Doc Talk Lecture, scheduled for Wednesday, February 8th, will feature cardiologist, Dr. Darren Ramoutar. His lecture will cover the topic “Trans Aortic Valve Replacement: What You Need to Know.”

The third Doc Talk Lecture, scheduled for Wednesday, February 15th, will feature the only, highly-experienced, electrophysiologist in Cameron County, Dr. Frank Mazzola. His lecture, titled “Abnormal Heart Rhythms” will define what this condition is, how you can identify it in advance of a serious medical issue, and the treatment options available, right here, at Harlingen Medical Center.

The last and fourth Doc Talk Lecture, scheduled for Wednesday, February 22nd, will feature Dr. David Nunez, a Harlingen dentist and Partner-In-Care to Harlingen Medical Center. His lecture will make the connection between a healthy mouth and a healthy heart.

Heart disease, generally, may be diagnosed in your primary care physician’s office, according to the CDC. Your family physician can perform a chest X-ray, coronary angiogram, electrocardiogram (EKG), and exercise stress test. But, you must discuss, with your physician, which test is right for you.

Stroke Prevention: Vascular Screening

In observance of National Heart Month, Harlingen Medical Center will also offer its special, “Preventative Vascular Screening.”

The non-invasive screening is used to take an image of the 1) Carotid Artery, 2) Abdominal Aorta, and 3) Peripheral Arterial. The carotid artery is screened for buildup of fatty plaque, which can lead to a stroke if left untreated. The abdominal aorta is screened for the presence of an aneurysm, which can lead to a ruptured aortic artery and cause instantaneous death. The peripheral arterial are screened for plaque buildup in the lower extremities, which if present can lead to Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), also known as atherosclerosis, and even cause heart disease.

All three screenings are performed for the nominal fee of $139.00. Most insurance companies usually do not cover the cost of this screening unless the person has already suffered symptoms of heart disease. The screenings are completed all at once, in the same room (Radiology and Imaging Services at Harlingen Medical Center), and take about 45-minutes to complete.

If you wish to register for the “Preventative Vascular Screening,” please call the Harlingen Medical Center Scheduling Department at 956-365-1839 to schedule your appointment.

To attend any of the scheduled Doc Talk Lectures, please RSVP at the Business Development and Marketing Department at 956-365-1027, or at