Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center
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How a congenital heart defect will affect your child's life

A congenital defect is one that is present at birth. Congenital heart defects, of which there are many types, may affect the heart’s valves or interior walls, or the blood vessels near the heart. Although these are the most common type of birth defect, most of them are, fortunately, minor and require little to no treatment. Even if a child is born with a serious defect, there is specialized care available at heart hospitals like Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center.

Symptoms in heart defect patients
Children with minor, asymptomatic heart defects may be diagnosed during a routine exam. If the heart defect is severe, it may be diagnosed shortly after birth or within the first few months of life.

Some heart defects may cause these signs and symptoms:

  • Feeding problems

  • Poor weight gain

  • Breathing problems

  • Very low blood pressure

Potential complications of heart defects
Severe heart defects may result in additional health problems that may require medical management. Some possible complications include:

  • Heart failure

  • Heart rhythm problems

  • Delayed growth

  • Delayed development

  • Heart tissue infection

  • Heart valve problems

Doctors typically recommend that patients with congenital heart defects be examined by a cardiologist on a routine basis for their lifetime.

Physical activity for heart defect patients
In most cases, children born with heart defects can safely enjoy mild to moderate exercise. In fact, regular exercise is usually recommended to support cardiovascular health and overall health. But just in case, it’s always advisable for parents to consult a cardiologist about whether their children must follow any activity restrictions.

Cardiologists may recommend avoiding strenuous activities, such as weightlifting, if the child has an enlarged aorta. Enlarged aortas can occur in patients with Marfan syndrome, Turner syndrome or a bicuspid aortic valve.

The most sophisticated, comprehensive heart care program in Southern Nevada is available at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center . Our heart hospital in Las Vegas is home to numerous specialized programs and operating suites because we believe our patients deserve the best possible outcome. Call (702) 233-5300 for general information about our hospital services.

What tests can you expect to have in the emergency room?

Emergency care doctors and nurses evaluate patients based on their signs and symptoms, health history and vital signs. They often use diagnostic tests as well, such as blood and urine tests. Watch the accompanying video to hear from an emergency care physician at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. He explains some of the most common tests that he and his colleagues use.

Blood tests
A blood test measures the different components in your blood, including your red and white blood cells. This test provides a broad look at overall health. An emergency care doctor might request a blood test if you are:

  • Showing possible signs of an infection
  • Atypically tired or weak
  • Showing signs of inflammation or bruising

A blood test can also be useful when a patient shows signs of diabetes, a heart attack, kidney complications or blood thinning.

Kidney and liver function
A comprehensive metabolic panel is a special type of blood test that can check for several problems, including problems with kidney and liver function. An emergency care physician might suspect a liver problem because of these signs and symptoms:

  • Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in the upper right abdominal area

A kidney problem might be indicated by these symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Swelling of the lower extremities
  • Decreased urine output
  • Shortness of breath

Urine test
A urinalysis is a common test performed in the ER. Urine tests may reveal the presence of any of the following:

  • Kidney problems
  • Pregnancy
  • High blood sugar
  • Bacterial infection
  • Drugs

Radiologic exams
Imaging scans are used in the ER to quickly diagnose patients who might have internal injuries, such as a broken bone, or other problems like lung infections. An ER doctor may request any of the following:

  • Chest x-ray
  • X-rays of the extremities
  • CT scan of the abdomen, head or chest

Individuals in Las Vegas who are suffering signs of a true medical emergency, such as a heart attack or stroke, should call 911 immediately. Patient-focused emergency care is available 24/7 at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. For non-emergent inquiries only, you can call our registered nurse at (702) 233-5300.

What is the reason for Wear Red Day?

Each year, the first Friday in February is designated as National Wear Red Day. Red is a bold, eye-catching color that symbolizes love and the heart. And so it’s fitting that wearing red on this particular day is intended to raise awareness about heart disease. Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center is a renowned heart hospital in Las Vegas. This February, we’re proud to support National Wear Red Day, and we encourage our neighbors to take proactive steps to protect their heart health. Our physicians and cardiologists are here to help.

Background of National Wear Red Day
Many men and women still believe that heart disease kills more men than women. But according to the American Heart Association, heart disease results in the deaths of almost half a million women in the U.S. each year.

Since women weren’t receiving the information they needed to make informed decisions for their heart health, the American Heart Association decided to take action. In 2003, the group teamed up with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and created National Wear Red Day.

Progress in heart health
The American Heart Association has credited National Wear Red Day with empowering women to make the healthy lifestyle changes needed to reduce the risk of heart disease. Since 2003, fewer women are dying from heart disease, and many women have:

  • Gotten their cholesterol levels checked
  • Started or increased exercise
  • Changed their diets
  • Lost weight
  • Spoken with their doctors about heart health

Although this is promising news, there’s a great deal more work to be done, and it starts with you.

Steps you can take
In addition to wearing red this February, make a commitment to support your heart health. Talk to your doctor about screening tests, choose low-sodium meals and get active. Every small change you make now can help you prevent heart disease later.

Call 911 immediately if you think you might be having a heart attack. If you just need to get in touch with a nurse in Las Vegas to request a physician referral, you can call (702) 233-5300. Heart Center at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center is an accredited Chest Pain Center, and offers an atrial fibrillation program and cardiac rehabilitation program.

Cervical cancer screening: Are you due for your Pap test?

Cancer is a frightening disease that’s difficult to treat, but there are many screening tests available to check for certain cancers. A screening test is a health exam or lab test performed despite the absence of symptoms. It enables physicians to find potential problems as early as possible. A highly recommended screening for women is the cervical cancer screening, also called the Pap test. If you have any questions or concerns about cervical cancer screenings, a physician at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center are here to help you.

When to schedule a Pap test
Women from ages 21 through 65 should receive cervical cancer screenings. The specific guidelines vary, as they are issued by different health organizations. Some of these guidelines are:

  • Pap test every three years for women ages 21 to 29
  • Pap test and HPV test every five years for women ages 30 to 65
  • No Pap tests after age 65 if recent results have been normal

Your doctor may give you guidance that deviates from these guidelines, depending on your health history or risk factors. Always follow your doctor’s suggestion, as they will consider your risk factors and age to provide customized recommendations for scheduling your Pap tests.

How to prepare for your Pap test
Pap tests are straightforward medical exams, but they do require a little preparation. Schedule your appointment for a time when you do not expect to have your period. Do not do any of the following:

  • Have sex for 24 hours prior to the appointment
  • Use contraceptives with spermicides for 72 hours before the test
  • Use vaginal medications, creams or douches for 72 hours beforehand

What to expect from a Pap test
When you arrive at the doctor’s office or hospital, you’ll be asked to change into a hospital gown. You’ll need to remove your underwear. You’ll be given a paper sheet to place over your lap.

When the doctor comes in the exam room, you’ll be asked to lie flat on your back, with your bottom at the edge of the table and your feet in stirrups. The doctor will then perform the following steps:

  • Use a sterile tool called a speculum to gently open the vagina
  • Insert a small brush or spatula
  • Swab a sample of cells from the cervix
  • Remove the speculum

It only takes a few minutes to perform a Pap test, although it’s often combined with a general physical exam and breast exam.

Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center is a trusted provider of comprehensive women’s care in Las Vegas. Our state-of-the-art hospital also includes an oncology unit, where patients and their families receive compassionate, personalized services. You can call a nurse at (702) 233-5300 to request a physician referral.

Which factors put your child at risk for congenital heart disease?

Any congenital defect is a medical problem that is present at birth, rather than acquired later in life. A congenital heart defect may affect the heart’s valves or interior walls. This sort of diagnosis is frightening for parents, but in many cases, congenital heart disease is minor and doesn’t cause any symptoms. Even when a heart defect is serious, treatment is available through our Heart Center at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas.

Genetic risk factors of heart defects
In some cases, heart defects can run in families. It’s possible for a child to have a higher risk of congenital heart disease if a parent also has it, but it’s not a guarantee a parent with a heart defect will pass it along to their child.

Congenital heart disease is often caused by genetic conditions, especially Down syndrome. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, about half of all children who are born with Down syndrome are also born with congenital heart defects.

Because of the possibility of a genetic cause of heart defects, some couples may choose to undergo genetic counseling. Genetic counseling is best done before pregnancy and works best if both parents do it. It involves testing a sample of blood for genetic problems that might cause heart defects.

Maternal risk factors of heart defects
Smoking during pregnancy leads to an increased risk of heart defects. Alcohol use and the abuse of recreational drugs also increase the risk. More research is needed regarding other possible maternal risk factors, but the following may have some influence:

  • Diabetes or lupus
  • Obesity
  • Rubella infection (German measles)
  • Phenylketonuria

Unknown cause of heart defects
All too often, the cause of congenital heart disease is unknown. When the cause of a medical condition is unknown, it’s often referred to as “idiopathic.” Individuals who were born with heart defects may decide to participate in research studies later in life, in order to help scientists learn more about the causes and risk factors.

The cardiologists and nurses at Heart Center at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center care for patients as if they were family. Our state-of-the-art heart hospital in Las Vegas provides rapid medical interventions for emergency situations, as well as long-term, supportive care. You can request a physician referral by calling a registered nurse at (702) 233-5300.

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