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Dr. Ashwani Bedi on Heart Health for Life and the Results of Decades of Research

Northern California Medical Associates (NCMA) Dr. Ashwani Bedi discusses the results of this month’s study on heart disease.

Earlier this month researchers from the Chicago Heart Association Detection Project released results of a study focused on 25,800 people who had turned 65 by 2010. Pulling data from the same participants who also made up a study from 1967 to 1973, researchers looked at heart health during younger years and how that played out over time.

They found that people with favorable heart health at younger ages lived about four years longer altogether, survived about five years longer before developing a chronic illness such as cancer or heart failure and spent 22 percent less of their senior years with a chronic disease compared to people with two or more heart risk factors earlier in life. This group also saved almost $18,000 in Medicare costs.

“Cardiovascular health is a lifetime concern,” says Dr. Ashwani Bedi, NCMA Cardiologist. “The American Heart Association says that about 41 percent of the U.S. population will have cardiovascular disease by 2030. That is a shocking statistic. This study clearly demonstrates that life-long heart health can be achieved, if patients make it a priority early in life. It’s hard to imagine a simpler solution than that.”

Cardiovascular disease includes conditions that affect the structures or function of the heart. It is the leading cause of death in the U.S. causing more than 800,000 deaths per year and $300 billion in direct medical expenditures. “The best way to prevent cardiovascular disease is to learn about it early and to take steps to prevent it from occurring,” says Dr. Bedi.

As a practicing Cardiac Electrophysiologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of abnormal heart rhythms, Dr. Bedi understands the importance of prevention and the need to make lifestyle changes early in life to help ensure a healthy heart for life. “It’s human nature to not focus on our cardiovascular health until later in life when it becomes a problem. This study shows the importance of making lifestyle changes to support heart health earlier in life.”

How to prevent heart disease

Heart failure is a major health problem for both men and women in the U.S., affecting nearly 5 million Americans. About 550,000 people are diagnosed with it each year. It is the leading cause of hospitalization in people older than 65. The hallmarks of prevention for heart disease include:

  • Eating healthy
  • Getting active
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke
  • Manage cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Take steps to manage stress

“Ultimately, it’s never too early or too late to learn about heart disease. The earlier in life a person can take steps to prevent cardiovascular disease, the better the chances that person has for staying healthy for life,” Dr. Bedi said.

About Dr. Bedi

Dr. Bedi is board certified in cardiac electrophysiology, cardiovascular disease and internal medicine. He brings specialty expertise in all aspects of cardiac electrophysiology including SVT and VT ablations, atrial fibrillation ablations, pacing (including BiV pacing) and defibrillation as well as intracardiac echocardiography. Dr. Bedi was the recipient of the Health Care Hero Award and received multiple WOW designations at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, Indiana. He has a professional interest in cardiac ablations, prevention and awareness of sudden cardiac death in communities and has been actively involved in cardiac screening for college athletes.

For more information about the full range of services offered by Northern California Medical Associates, visit the NCMA Health website. To make an appointment with Dr. Bedi, call (707) 573-6199

Taking a Mindful Approach to Heart Health During American Heart Month

Northern California Medical Associates Cardiovascular Services explores national trends in cardiovascular disease and shares insight into heart healthy living.

heart-718085-mThere is a lot going on in February pertaining to heart health. It’s American Heart Month and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are co-leading an initiative on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to educate people all across the U.S. about heart disease and prevention. The American Heart Association is championing the annual awareness campaign aimed at educating women on heart health called Go Red for Women. NCMA Cardiovascular Services is also taking this opportunity to share some news about heart disease and stroke and to offer some tips on how to have a healthy heart.

Heart Disease is No Joke

According to the American Heart Association more than 5 million people in the United States suffer from heart failure, less than 50 percent of those with heart failure live a full five years following diagnosis. The deadly duo of heart disease and stroke are among the most prevalent and costly health complications dealt with by doctors today. Heart disease or stroke wreak havoc on people’s lives measured in increased medical bills, lost wages and decreased quality of living.

• 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes occur every year in the United States
• 800,000 deaths occur from heart disease each year, a total of 1 in every 3 deaths – about the same number as die from cancer, respiratory disease and accidents – combined
• 150,000 of deaths from heart disease occur in people under age 65
• $320 billion in health care costs and lost productivity were attributed to heart disease and stroke in 2011

The top five ways to hedge your bets against heart disease include; managing high blood pressure (talk to your doctor), take up a daily routine of physical activity (at least 20 minutes per day), make an effort to eat whole foods (ditch processed alternatives), avoid excess salt and quit smoking.

Know Your Blood Pressure

About 67 million people have high blood pressure according to the CDC. High blood pressure is a serious issue when it comes to heart heath. It makes the heart work excessively, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Blood pressure is the force of blood on the walls of the body’s blood vessels as blood flows through them. This pressure naturally fluctuates during the day, but when it is consistently too high, it is considered high blood pressure or hypertension. The best way to find out what your blood pressure is and to weigh current risk factors, is to talk to a cardiologist.

Get the Blood Pumping

Exercise is essential not only for maintaining a healthy weight but for keeping the heart healthy. According to the American Heart Association’s latest exercise standards, exercise can be viewed as a preventative medical treatment and should be pursued on a daily basis – or as close to a daily basis as possible. For maximum cardiovascular health the AHA suggests 30 minutes of aerobic activity at least five days per week combined with some type of muscle-strengthening activity twice per week.

Discover the Heart Healthy Diet

Adopting a heart healthy diet can reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke by as much as 80 percent. The most often recommended steps towards improving the diet is to eat more fresh, unprocessed fruits and veggies, choose whole grains over refined grain products, and limit unhealthy fats. Reducing salt consumed in food is another important aspect of the heart-healthy diet. Salt can contribute to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Don’t Light Up

Cigarette smoking greatly increases a person’s risk for heart disease. Risk factors rise as the cells that line the body’s blood vessels react to the poisons in tobacco smoke, almost immediately causing the heart rate and blood pressure rise. Over time blood vessels grow narrower, and chemical changes caused by tobacco smoke also increases the likelihood that blood will clot. When this happens clots (called plaque) can form and block the necessary blood flow to the heart. When arteries are blocked enough then sudden death can become an issue.

The Bottom Line

With heart disease being the leading cause of death for both of men and women, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined it’s important to take steps to improve heart health. Knowledge is power, and with just a little effort it is possible to protect against heart disease. In addition to exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, controlling blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, making lifestyle choices to improve cardiovascular health will also improve quality of life, and lower the risk for heart disease.

About NCMA Cardio Services

NCMA Cardiovascular Services offers patients a comprehensive range of cardiac services, interventional procedures and comprehensive care to meet the needs of patients with 11 offices, located in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Sonoma, Healdsburg, Fort Bragg, Mendocino, Gualala, Ukiah, and Lakeport. For more information, visit our website.

NCMA Cardiology Launches “Be Heart Smart” Campaign During National Heart Month

February is American Heart Month, and Northern California Medical Associates (NCMA) Cardiology is kicking off its “Be Heart Smart” campaign to do its part to spread heart health awareness. Since 1975, NCMA Cardiology has focused on educational outreach in addition to providing a comprehensive range of cardiac services from highly trained, elite physicians. With the “Be Heart Smart” campaign, NCMA Cardiology aims to educate the public about various aspects of heart health in order to empower people to make the right choices and to live a heart healthy life.

Be Heart Smart fb masthead

Heart disease has been the number-one killer of Americans for the past 80 years. In 2015, it isn’t news to most people that heart disease is the leading cause of premature death in the United States. It also isn’t news to most people that heart disease is preventable. The shocking news is that even though people know the risks of heart disease and that it is preventable, the incidence of heart disease and related deaths continues to grow. According to the American Heart Association, one in seven deaths is related to coronary heart disease, and one in nine is caused by heart failure. In light of the growing problem, February has been deemed “Heart Month” in America. NCMA Cardiology has launched its “Be Heart Smart” social media campaign this month as a means to help people realize the power of preventative healthy living to reverse the trend of rising heart disease.

While there are some risk factors you can’t control such as age, gender, heredity, and race, people can significantly mitigate their risk for heart disease by making healthy lifestyle choices. With its campaign, NCMA Cardiology hopes to reach as many people as possible and to cause them to stop and think about their hearts when making health-related choices. NCMA cardiologists have identified seven interrelated goals that will help people reduce their risk for heart disease. In essence, the “Be Heart Smart” campaign is about (1) managing diet and weight, (2) exercising regularly, (3) quitting smoking, (4) reducing stress, (5) keeping blood pressure in the healthy range, (6) managing cholesterol levels, and (7) controlling blood sugar.

First and foremost, managing diet and weight is the most important step towards minimizing one’s risk of heart disease. NCMA Cardiology strives to redefine the meaning of ‘diet’ in popular culture. One’s diet encompasses everything he or she ingests over a lifetime. Alternatively, when one ‘goes on a diet,’ this most likely means the dieter is resisting the foods that he or she prefers to eat for a set period of time for the sake of losing weight. This type of dieting is not an effective way to sustain weight loss, as once the diet ends, the person rewards themselves with the unhealthy foods they resisted while dieting. To truly have a healthy diet, NCMA cardiologists recommend eating smaller portions at meals, and snacking on vegetables and fiber-rich whole grains during the day. Allow yourself to indulge in high-fat, and high-sugar foods, but don’t overdo it. Your diet does not have an end-date.

While obesity poses one of the most serious threats to heart health, you don’t have to be obese to have an increased risk of heart disease due to a poor diet. Everyone’s body processes food differently. Although it is unlikely, some people can appear slim and fit while sustaining themselves on potato chips and soda pop. This does not change the fact that these people are increasing their risk for heart disease through their diets. What foods are really the best for your heart? Recent studies have shown that the “Mediterranean diet” can reduce the risk heart disease by about 20% in both men and women.

“Just taking a walk in the morning or the evening will put you on your way to better heart health.”

After maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly is the next most important step towards reducing hearth health. Not only will living a sedentary lifestyle reduce muscle strength and endurance, it will also contribute to metabolic problems such as high blood sugar and cholesterol. Much scientific research has gone into how much exercise is enough, and today’s leading experts recommend getting at least 60 minutes of continuous, moderate aerobic exercise each day of the week. NCMA cardiologists recognize that this recommendation is more than what many Americans are willing to do or have time for, so they level with patients and tell them the raw facts—true up until the extreme, the more cardiovascular exercise people get everyday, the more they reduce their risk for heart disease. While 60 minutes a day brings about excellent health benefits, even just 20 to 30 minutes of continuous, moderate aerobic exercise five days a week has been shown to reduce the risk for heart disease by 30-50%. Just taking a walk in the morning or the evening will put you on your way to better heart health.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that smoking dramatically increases your risk of cardiovascular heart disease. Like it says on every cigarette box today, smoking causes heart disease. Smoking accelerates the progression of heart disease in people predisposed to having it, and drastically increases the chances of it developing in people who would otherwise be at a very low risk. In conjunction with the Northern California Center of Well-Being, NCMA offers smoking cessation classes. Even if you aren’t ready to quit, it is important to talk to your NCMA physician about your smoking habit so that he or she may provide you with all of the resources, clinics and classes offered through NCMA.

When it comes to reducing stress, it is important to clarify what kind of stress is most necessary to reduce for the sake of improving heart health. Reducing physical stress such as exercise, for example, should not be thought of as an effective means to reduce one’s risk of heart disease. Emotional stress, such as work-related, relationship, and financial stresses, has long been suspected and recently confirmed to increase one’s risk for heart disease. These types of stresses, however unpleasant or dangerous, cannot always be avoided. Reducing stress, therefore, is ultimately about finding ways to relax when confronted with stressful situations. No two people will ever react to the same type of stress the same way, so it is also important for individuals to determine the stresses that affect them most. Avoid them when you can, and find relief through deep breaths and communal support when you can’t. Include your doctor in conversations about your stress levels for further feedback and advice.

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and off-balance, volatile blood sugar levels are all relatively common in our society and can significantly increase one’s risk of developing heart disease. While the best way to mitigate these risks is through exercise, healthy eating, and not smoking cigarettes, treatment may require management with drug therapy and careful monitoring by your physician. Other contributing factors other than lifestyle choices such as genetics and metabolic disorders are often unavoidable and may warrant even closer care with your doctor.

Improving your heart health and reducing your risk for heart disease doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Simply making an effort to be conscious of heart health in your day-to-day living can go a long way. To start, NCMA Cardiology encourages everyone to pick two or three goals on the “Be Heart Smart” list to go after. In addition, keeping regular appointments with your cardiologist before any serious heart issues arise is the best way to stay on top of your heart health.

NCMA Cardiology is comprised of 14 cardiologists, two cardiothoracic and vascular surgeons, and one electrophysiologist—all board-certified in their fields. Since 1975, the group has focused on sub specialization within cardiovascular health to provide services by the most highly trained and experienced physicians and staff. In accordance with its practice of providing comprehensive cardiovascular health care, NCMA offers HeartWorks, pacemaker and defibrillator clinics, anti-coagulation clinics, congestive heart failure clinics, pulmonary hypertension clinics, lipid clinics, and an adult congenital heart clinic in addition to general check-ups with cardiologists. NCMA’s HeartWorks Cardiac Rehabilitation Center provides each patient with a personal diet and exercise plan supervised by a team of physicians, nurses, and cardiac exercise specialists.

Be Heart Smart IconNCMA Cardiology provides cardiac care in three counties, with 11 offices, located in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Sonoma, Healdsburg, Fort Bragg, Mendocino, Gualala, Ukiah, and Lakeport. Visit our website at www.ncmahealth.com for more information on NCMA health services and contacting NCMA offices. Please call (707) 573-6166 to schedule an appointment with NCMA Cardiology, and visit NCMA’s Facebook page to follow the “Be Heart Smart” campaign.

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Sonoma Medicine Publishes “Office-Based Balloon Sinus Dilation” by Dr. Stefan Zechowy

A veteran member of NCMA’s Santa Rosa Head and Neck Surgical Group (SRHN), Dr. Zechowy is an expert Otolaryngologist specializing in nasal and sinus surgeryear surgerysleep apnea surgery, as well as thyroid surgerySonoma Medicine Magazine recently published Dr. Stefan Zechowy‘s article detailing the efficacy of the state-of-the-art Balloon Sinus Dilation (BSD) procedure.

 

 

"Office-Based Balloon Sinus Dilation" Preview

Click Here to read Dr. Zechowy’s full article as published in Sonoma Medicine’s Fall 2014 Issue.

Dr. Reza Sepehrdad joins Northern California Medical Associates Cardiovascular Services Team

 

Sepehrdad, MD

Dr. Reza Sepehrdad, Interventional Cardiology

Northern California Medical Associates (NCMA) Cardiovascular Services proudly welcomes Reza Sepehrdad, MD, to the elite team of physicians at FountainGrove Cardiology in Santa Rosa. With interventional cardiology as his primary specialty, Dr. Sepehrdad has completed three fellowships in different cardiology subspecialty areas from UC Davis.

Dr. Reza Sepehrdad is a board certified cardiologist who practices the most current, innovative treatments in cardiovascular medicine. During medical school at New York Medical College, Dr. Sepehrdad distinguished himself from his fellow classmates, earning six research awards in six years. Dr. Sepehrdad obtained his residency training from UC Davis before going on to complete fellowships in cardiovascular medicine, interventional cardiology, and vascular medicine and peripheral arterial interventions from the same school. While completing his fellowship in cardiovascular medicine, Dr. Sepehrdad worked as an Emergency Room/Urgent Care Staff Physician for the VA Northern California Health Care System.

Dr. Sepehrdad carries professional society memberships with the American College of Physicians, the American College of Cardiology, and the Society for Cardiac Angiography and Interventions. He has also written papers on a variety of medical topics for multiple respected publications such as Cardiac Interventions Today, American Journal of Medicine, Cardiology in Review, and more. Dr. Sepehrdad is fluent in English and Farsi, and is partially fluent in Spanish. In his free time, Dr. Sepehrdad enjoys exercising, cooking, and spending time with his wife and family.

Dr. Sepehrdad plays an integral role in the team of highly qualified cardiologists at FountainGrove Cardiology. Providing treatment and services for everything from cardiac catheterization to open-heart surgery, from electrophysiology to rehabilitation and prevention, this highly qualified staff maintains its commitment to deliver the most current, innovative treatment in cardiovascular medicine and the best possible patient outcomes.

Dr. Sepehrdad practices cardiology and interventional cardiology at FountainGrove Cardiology in Santa Rosa, and he is currently accepting new patients. For more information about NCMA Cardiovascular Services, visit NCMAhealth.com. Call (707) 573-6199 to make an appointment with Dr. Sepehrdad or any other NCMA doctors at FountainGrove Cardiology.

NCMA Staff Visits New Sutter Medical Center Facility

WP_001858NCMA staff recently was given a tour of the new Sutter of Santa Rosa Hospital next to the Wells Fargo Center. The facility, currently under construction, will open in 2014 and will bring with it a higher standard in healthcare to Sonoma County. The project is expected to cost the organization $284 million. The hospital will focus on the many advances, treatments and innovative technology in healthcare.

The new facility is built on a dynamic, green design that will result in a significant reduction in green house gas emissions. The hospital will also implement a water and energy conservation program. Upon completion, the new hospital is expected to be LEED Certified, the internally recognized green building certification system that uses a rigorous 100-point checklist. The building also will boast a seismically sound infrastructure, electronic health records and advanced imaging technology that will make the new Sutter Medical Center an unmatched state-of-the-art facility that will enhance 21st century healthcare in Sonoma County.

WP_001869Project managers showed NCMA staff around the grounds where the efforts and progress made by the collaborating teams has reached a level that is worthy of Sutter Medical Centers’ high standards. You can see the facility, its progress and innovate design on Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa’s website. Also, watch live video of the construction progress, as the hospital’s countdown to opening gets closer. See the photos on our Facebook for a complete insight into our visit and the progress of the new hospital.