Preventing heart disease and treating its symptoms with the latest in advanced care

Robert Greenfield, M.D., Medical Director of Non-Invasive Cardiology, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center

Robert Greenfield, M.D., Medical Director of Non-Invasive Cardiology, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center

There’s great reason for hope on the heart disease front. Never before have there been so many options for diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Two-thirds of adults survive the disease — 27 percent more than a decade ago, and impressive new technologies and techniques show tremendous promise.

While progress is impressive and risk factors well known, more Americans continue to die from heart failure than any other disease. While hereditary factors play a role, poor lifestyle choices remain the main culprit.

To learn more, Smart Business turned to Robert Greenfield, M.D., a cardiologist and lipidologist and the medical director of Non-Invasive Cardiology at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center; and Jason Shen, M.D., a Board Certified Cardiologist at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center.

Jason Shen, M.D., Board Certified Cardiologist, Saddleback Memorial Medical Center

Jason Shen, M.D., Board Certified Cardiologist, Saddleback Memorial Medical Center

What risk factors are most prevalent?

Smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyles and heavy consumption of saturated fats and trans fats are prevalent among too many Americans. These negatively impact cholesterol counts and blood pressure levels and can cause dangerous plaque build-up in coronary arteries. Too often, these are adopted by children who mirror their parents’ unhealthy habits. With one in three children and teens in California overweight, the elevated number of kids with risk factors for heart disease — high body-mass index, glucose intolerance, elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol — translates into higher risks of chronic disease as an adult. That’s why family fitness is essential.

How can risks be minimized?

Studies show that lowering cholesterol and treating high blood pressure reduce the risk of dying of heart disease, having a non-fatal heart attack and needing heart bypass surgery or angioplasty. Preventive measures include maintaining an appropriate weight and eating foods low in cholesterol and fat. Reducing stress, controlling blood pressure and exercising regularly are important, as well as getting regular check-ups and screenings and following a doctor’s advice.

How do heart attack symptoms vary among men and women?

For women — more of whom die of heart disease than men — symptoms can be so subtle they may not suspect they’re in trouble. Symptoms may include nausea, dizziness, uncomfortable pressure, tightness or heaviness in the chest that doesn’t go away quickly; cold sweats or pounding heart; pain radiating up the shoulders or neck or down the arms or back; difficulty breathing; and/or shortness of breath. Men, on the other hand, tell us they experience a crushing chest pain, as if an elephant were sitting on their chest.

What advances are available locally?

The residents of Orange County are fortunate to have access to world class heart care. Advanced and innovative diagnostic technologies, treatments and rehabilitation for heart disease are the norm at MemorialCare hospitals. These include open heart surgery, angioplasty, stenting and device implantation such as internal defibrillators and pacemakers. In addition, heart and vascular services offer catheter ablation, rehabilitation and centers for cardiac care for women. We are among just a few designated cardiac paramedic receiving centers in Orange County with emergency treatment times that beat the national average.

MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Memorial is the region’s first hospital, and one of a handful in the U.S., to introduce a Hybrid Cardiovascular Interventional Suite. This revolutionary approach to heart care allows our cardiac specialists to provide both interventional treatments and surgery in one suite, reducing procedure time and stress on patients. Based on diagnosis and condition, we may provide angiography, angioplasty, bypass surgery or combinations of these treatments in the Hybrid Suite.

Saddleback Memorial is a pioneer in beating heart surgery, which is surgery performed without stopping the heart. This can result in better preservation of heart function, reduced hospital stays and quicker recoveries. We received the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines Heart Failure Gold Performance Award, honoring our achievements in attaining stringent guidelines for treating heart failure patients. Our advances continue with the new center dedicated to managing heart disease and other chronic conditions.

How can we create a healthier workplace?

Current research reveals that a healthy lifestyle is your best defense against many diseases. This means that the workplace can be the source to better health. Employers, including MemorialCare, offer programs and screenings for employees that includes nutrition education, exercise tips and organized health activities, such as break times for walking groups. They can provide healthy lifestyle choices by ensuring there is an availability of a variety of choices of fruits, vegetables and nutritious foods in vending machines and eating places.

The website offers health tools and calculators that help evaluate risks for a number of diseases. It is a resource for health guides for heart attack symptoms, heart-healthy eating and women’s wellness. MemorialCare hospitals offer prevention programs and heart evaluations at your worksite and other convenient locations.

Robert Greenfield, M.D., is a cardiologist, lipidologist and medical director of Non-Invasive Cardiology at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center.

Jason Shen, M.D., is a board certified cardiologist at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center. The not-for-profit MemorialCare Health System includes Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley and Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente. For additional information on excellence in health care, please visit