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A closer look at heart disease

Chief Meteorologist Steve Browne returns after heart procedure

Meteorologist Steve Browne returned to work Monday after having a stent implanted -- a potentially life-saving procedure to clear blocked arteries.

Clogged arteries are the main component of heart disease, according to University Hospital cardiologist, Dr. Hinan Ahmed.

“When they go up with the balloon, the stent stays in the artery, while everything else comes out,” said Ahmed, “and it stays in there to keep the artery open.”

So what causes arteries to clog?

“That’s the bad cholesterol we talk about,” said Ahmed, “Its deposited inside of the artery, and over time, the cholesterol activates other cells and it sticks to the artery and makes a whole ball of fat inside of your artery.”

Symptoms of heart disease can be chest pressure or pain, shortness of breath or sometimes even nausea and vomiting.

If arteries are less than 70 percent blocked, that can be treated with medications.

Any higher and a stent- or even open heart surgery- become necessary.

Physicians use a stress test to check for signs of heart disease or sometimes a calcium test.

“When you have these cholesterol deposits in the arteries, they are followed with calcium deposits so every time a blockage builds up, it starts collecting calcium,” says Ahmed.

A heart attack occurs when the three main arteries that supply the heart are clogged.

Controlling heart disease through diet, exercise and medications is key, Ahmed says, and smoking is a huge risk factor.


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