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Dr. Adrian Danchenko weighs in on what patients need to know:

“The diabetes epidemic is contributing to the number of cardiovascular related issues and disorders that people are facing.”

Dr. Adrian Danchenko weighs in on what patients need to know:“Due to the lifestyle choices people have made in this country, many patients will require cardiac care at some point in their life, but most people will not have any of the classic symptoms. The diabetes epidemic is contributing to the number of cardiovascular related issues and disorders that people are facing. With a lack of exercise, obesity, and poor dietary choices, heart disease is looming. Given the longer lifespan that most people are experiencing, especially in Florida with the aging population, if people remain sedentary and live the “luxury” of not having to do much physical activity, they can be asymptomatic, until late in the disease process. Several reasons account for this. First, diabetes will mask the symptoms of angina and shortness of breath may be the only one present. Second, by not performing any regular physical activity, you are not “testing” you heart. As an analogy, it is just like having that nice shiny recently polished car in the garage. It may look great on the outside, but unless you take it out for a drive, you have no idea if it will even start or drive as expected. By performing some regular exercise, even walking around the block several times every other day, you will be performing a test drive. If you were able to walk the block 3 to 4 times in a half an hour last month, but now have to stop to catch your breath after half a block, you have a problem. Regular exercise, monitoring your sensations and overall comfort level during and after, is the “at home” version of a stress test. Chest discomfort with activity is the other major symptom people have been taught to look for, but many people confuse chest pain with discomfort and don’t consider that tightness, squeezing and pressure are major red flags. The harder it is for a patient to describe their symptoms to me, the more concerned I become. People tend to focus on the intensity and scale of pain, but in cardiology the scale of pain is irrelevant. It’s the nature of the discomfort – squeezing, pulling, tightness, aching, pressure, etc. – with which we are most concerned.

I am Board Certified in Cardiology and Nuclear Cardiology. Nuclear based imaging modalities are based on the actual perfusion of that heart. This provides a much more sensitive and accurate tool for diagnosing coronary artery disease as compared to a routine stress test that looks only at an EKG. We are also afforded the ability to investigate the heart in individuals who cannot negotiate a treadmill, by performing pharmacologic based imaging. The information obtained from such testing provides much better discriminatory value. To put it simply, it is much better in diagnosing whether you have a problem or not. It will determine whether additional invasive diagnostic testing is warranted. These tests should be done by a trained cardiologist to assure qualified, accurate reporting and proper communication of the results to the referring physician. To have these tests performed by a non-trained physician can be an immense disservice to the patient.

The most effective things that patients can do regarding their heart health are behavioral and lifestyle changes. There are multiple risk factors for coronary artery disease. Three of them are uncontrollable: gender, age and family history. The rest are controllable: diabetes, smoking, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), hypertension (high blood pressure) and obesity. If you have a family history of cardiac disease, then the controllable risk factors should be of a much greater concern to you. Patients need to stop smoking. By maintaining an ideal body weight, losing weight if necessary, exercising regularly, and avoiding sugar and simple carbohydrates, you can hopefully avoid diabetes and coronary artery disease. As I tell most of my diabetic patients, it is not whether you will develop coronary artery disease; it is a matter of when. Better to avoid diabetes in the first place.”

If you or someone you know needs a cardiology consultation, are concerned about the risk factors, or are experiencing symptoms of chest discomfort, shortness of breath or other related issues, please contact Dr. Danchenko’s office today at (239) 369-6115 for an appointment. He accepts Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance plans.

Lehigh Regional Medical Center’s current administration is focused on recruiting and retaining a dedicated group of specialists and subspecialists to further develop the hospital’s depth and breadth of services for the local community. Efforts are underway to open a diagnostic cardiac catheterization laboratory. Two months ago, they recruited Dr. Adrian Danchenko for his highly-sought after Invasive Cardiology expertise.  Dr. Danchenko has been practicing for over 25 years and specializes in cardiovascular disease. He obtained his medical education through the Uniform Services University of Health Science, Bethesda, MD, the only military medical school in the United States.


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