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Cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer today – Get the facts on Medical Rounds

February 03, 2016
Medical Rounds

Dr. Ari Kugelmass, vice president and medical director of the Heart & Vascular Program at Baystate Health, appeared on last night’s new Medical Rounds – a collaboration between Baystate Health and Western Mass News. The weekly Medical Rounds is broadcast in the 5:30 p.m. portion of the Tuesday night news and will focus on family health and wellness and breakthrough technologies. Each session will be followed by an interactive live chat. Last night’s discussion focused on heart health. A transcription of last night's edition follows.

Q: Can you elaborate as to why heart disease is the #1 killer and what might a patient, who doesn’t know they have any heart-related issues, experience for symptoms?

A: You are correct. Cardiovascular disease, including the heart and blood vessel conditions, remain the leading killer. Chest pain or pressure, often radiating to the arm or jaw, shortness of breath, fatigue or decreasing exercise tolerance, fainting or near fainting, pain in calves when walking, and foot swelling are all symptoms that could be due to heart or vascular problems.

Q: What care is available in Western Massachusetts for patients who experience these symptoms?

A: First, they should consult their physician. If they experience chest pain, then they should call 911 or proceed to the nearest emergency room. While no one wants to have heart and vascular problems, many are very treatable. Fortunately, the people of Western Massachusetts have access to world-class, nationally- recognized cardiovascular care here at Baystate, with almost all treatments being performed in our community hospitals or at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.

Q: What is an example of the care a patient will receive if they have a heart attack?

A: The Western Massachusetts Regional Heart Attack Program is one of the country’s busiest systems designed to provide time-sensitive, life-saving unblocking of arteries for heart attack victims from Williamstown all the way into Northern Connecticut.

Q: What other life-saving procedures does Baystate offer?

A: We treat aortic aneurysms, basically through a ballooning of the major blood vessel in the abdomen or chest. Even 10 years ago, this usually required a very complex open operation, which often had many serious complications. Today, the surgeons at Baystate are able to treat this through catheters or tubes placed in the leg, with many fewer complications. Patients often go home in just a few days, returning in little time to their normal and healthy lives.