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What does a Holter monitor tell me about my heart?
A Holter monitor is a portable electrocardiogram (EKG) that monitors the electrical activity of an ambulatory (freely moving) patients heart for a 24hr. period. It is most often used when your physician suspects an abnormal heart rhythm often based on specific complaints of a sensation of a beating heart, a fast heartbeat, or palpitations. There is no special preparation for this painless test. Wires from the monitor are taped to the patient's skin via electrodes as the patients are asked to go about their usual daily activities. Patients will keep a diary of symptoms so it may be reviewed by the physician for symptom correlation.
What is coronary artery disease?
Coronary artery disease is a chronic condition which leads to the narrowing and hardening of the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle itself. This narrowing leaves less room for the blood to flow through and deprives the heart muscle its needed blood. There are many risk factors which can contribute to the development of coronary artery disease. These include smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, lifestyle, and family history. All of the risk factors aside from family history can be modified and risk of heart disease can be reduced.
What is a pacemaker?
A pacemaker is a small device that is implanted in the upper chest region for prevention of an abnormally slow heart beat. A slow heart beat develops when the heart's natural pacemaker slows down with age or when the heart's natural electrical conducting fibers wear out. Patients requiring pacemaker implantation often present with symptoms of dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue and/or fainting associated with a slow pulse. Not uncommonly, patients who require pacemakers are on necessary medications that result in excessive heart rate slowing. A pacemaker system generally consists of a pulse generator (which houses the pacemaker battery and circuitry) and two pacemaker leads. The leads are inserted through the veins into the top and bottom chambers of the heart. A typical pacemaker implantation is done under local anesthesia with light sedation and can be completed in 60-90 minutes. Patients with pacemakers can enjoy active normal lifestyles with minimal restrictions. Most electronic devices in the environment (including microwave ovens) have no effect on the pacemaker.
Is it normal to feel irritable or depressed after suffering a heart attack?
It is not uncommon for persons to have strong emotional feelings after going through an ordeal such as a heart attack. Many times heart attacks occur suddenly in otherwise healthy people. They are not accustomed to the idea to having to deal with any illness. Sometimes there are feelings of depression, hopelessness, irritability and fear. Any patient struggling with these emotions after a heart attack should discuss them frankly with his or her physician. Counseling and medication can help remove this obstacle to good health. Enrolling in supervised cardiac rehabilitation after a heart attack can also be quite beneficial.

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