Cardiology FAQ

If you’ve just been diagnosed with heart disease or are starting treatment, you may have many questions. Adventist Health Lodi Memorial and Dameron Hospital wants you to feel informed and confident, so we’ve compiled answers to commonly asked questions about heart health, heart disease and our cardiac care services.

Heart health and disease

What is coronary artery disease?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coronary artery disease is responsible for 1 in 4 deaths in the U.S. Smoking, high cholesterol diabetes and other factors can cause a combination of fats, cholesterol and other substances to accumulate in the arteries of the heart. Eventually, these deposits, called plaque, can clog the artery, preventing oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart.

If left untreated, plaque can harden and rupture, creating blood clots that can limit blood flow and trigger angina, or chest discomfort. This pain typically starts in the chest and can move to other locations in the body, like the arms, jaw and back. When blood flow is cut off from the heart for an extended period, it can lead to heart attack, stroke and other serious health complications.

What are the symptoms of heart attack and stroke?

If you or someone near you is experiencing heart attack or stroke, time is critical! In most cases, the faster you get treatment, the less damage there will be to your heart or brain. That’s why it’s important to take a moment now to become familiar with these symptoms of heart attack and stroke:

Heart and Stroke Signs and Symptoms Guide

When should I start paying attention to my heart health?

It is never too early to start! Coronary artery disease, the most usual form of heart disease, typically begins in young adulthood. Whether you develop heart disease will depend on your behaviors and environment, genetic factors or a combination of both. Some people are born with inherited heart or metabolic problems that raise their risk for the early appearance of heart health issues. That’s why it is a good idea to find out what you can about your family's health history.

Regular visits with your primary care physician and routine health screenings are also important. Screenings can help identify high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, high blood pressure or high blood sugar — conditions that are relatively symptomless but raise your risk for coronary artery disease.

Take a heart risk assessment

How can I avoid heart disease?

The key steps you can take to have a healthy heart include eating heart-healthy food, being physically active, not smoking and maintaining an appropriate weight.

Controlling your risk factors for heart disease by adjusting your habits and lifestyle — and sometimes with the help of medications like cholesterol-lowering statins — can reduce the risk of heart attacks.

For some people with specific genetic conditions, such as familial hypercholesterolemia and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, genetic factors tend to dominate environmental factors, although environment continues to play a role. Even without such a strong genetic component, a family history of heart disease may provide valuable insight. Some drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamines, and medical treatments, such as chemotherapy, can also damage the heart.

In addition, medical conditions like diabetes and sleep apnea, can raise your risk for heart disease, so carefully controlling those conditions with the help of a medical specialist is also important. As you grow older, it also makes sense to know the symptoms of a heart attack, so you can seek prompt medical attention if they occur.

If you have more questions or concerns, speak with your primary care physician or a cardiologist. Need to find a doctor? We can help!

Cardiac Care at Adventist Health Lodi Memorial and Dameron Hospital

What should I expect when I meet my cardiologist for the first time?

Your cardiologist will talk with you about your medical history and symptoms and conduct a thorough exam. You’ll also discuss next steps, including any additional tests you may need.

How do I know if I need heart surgery?

Your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan based on your symptoms, medical history, severity of your heart condition and your personal preferences. Typically, cardiologists start the treatment process with nonsurgical options when possible. If those methods do not relieve your symptoms, you may need surgery.

What do I need to know before my surgery?

Your care team will provide you with detailed instructions and guidelines to prepare for surgery. These important steps help to ensure a safe, smooth surgery and recovery.

What kinds of technologies do you use to diagnose and treat patients?

We use the latest technology to offer safe, effective cardiac diagnosis and treatment. Our cardiac imaging tools include ultrasound, X-ray, MRI, CT, PET and SPECT.

In many cases, our interventional cardiology team can perform treatment and repair procedures with minimally invasive surgery instead of traditional surgery. Minimally invasive methods use smaller incisions, which typically reduces post-surgical pain and speeds up recovery. We also have expertise in traditional, open surgery, which may be the best choice for your health status and needs.

Where will I receive treatment?

Depending on the severity of your case or technological needs during a procedure, treatment will be scheduled at either Adventist Health Lodi Memorial or Dameron Hospital in Stockton. Our team will communicate when and where you are scheduled.

Do I need a referral to see a cardiologist?

Yes, your primary care physician can refer you to our team. We have a large network of physicians and outpatient facilities near you who specialize in heart care. If you need primary care physician, you can schedule an appointment with our providers here.

I have a question for a doctor, but I don’t have a regular doctor of my own. How can I connect with one?

We can help you find an Adventist Health doctor near you who specializes in primary care, heart care or a wide range of other specialties.