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Dr. On Chen

From left, Tahmid Rahman, MD, Cardiologist and Associate Director, Center for Advanced Lipid (Cholesterol) Management and Associate Director, Quality and Safety in Cardiology; On Chen, MD, Interventional Cardiologist and Director, Center for Advanced Lipid (Cholesterol) Management; Director, Outpatient Services; and Director, Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) and Telemetry; and Sahana Choudhury, AGPCNP-C, MSN, CMSRN, Adult Cardiology Nurse Practitioner. Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

Specialty heart care is once again expanding at Stony Brook Medicine with the addition of the Center for Advanced Lipid (Cholesterol) Management at the Stony Brook University Heart Institute, the first of its kind in Suffolk County. Lipids are fatty substances in the blood that can lead to blockages in heart arteries. The new center will use testing tailored to each patient to get a complete understanding of inflammatory markers, lipid profile, apolipoprotein B levels and more. From there, Stony Brook experts can develop a cardiac disease prevention and cholesterol management plan.

“Our goal is to provide earlier diagnosis so that our patients can be proactive and prevent premature heart disease,” said Lipid Center Director On Chen, MD, who is also the Director of the Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) at Stony Brook Medicine. “As an interventional cardiologist, I treat patients with severe disease and blockages to the heart, and I’d much rather see patients early to be aggressive with prevention. Today, there is so much we can do to get ahead of heart disease.”

With clinic hours available in East Setauket and Commack, the Lipid Center is staffed with cardiologists who have specialized training and certification through the American Board of Clinical Lipidology. The opening coincides with September’s National Cholesterol Education Month, which aims to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol levels, and stroke.

“At Stony Brook Heart Institute, our cardiac specialists work to fight heart disease from every angle, and the new Center for Lipid Management is an important part of bringing advanced management of cholesterol disorders to our patients in a holistic and comprehensive way,” said Hal A. Skopicki, MD, PhD, Co-Director, Stony Brook Heart Institute; Chief, Cardiology; and Ambassador Charles A. Gargano Chair, Cardiology, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University. “Our clinicians are not only involved in the treatment but are also actively involved in the science of lipids and the role they play in our health and disease — so that we can be on the forefront of bringing best-in-class knowledge to our patients and community.”

High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. High cholesterol has no symptoms, so patients might not know that their cholesterol is too high – unless it’s measured by a doctor with a blood test.

“While there are risk factors that are not within our control — such as age or family history — there are many crucial factors that we can influence,” said Tahmid Rahman, MD, Associate Director of the Center for Advanced Lipid (Cholesterol) Management. “Even if you already have cardiovascular disease, it’s not too late to lower your risk. In fact, an effective lipid-lowering treatment plan can be lifesaving.”

“For patients who have already suffered a heart attack, had coronary artery bypass surgery or received stenting of their arteries, the need for optimum cholesterol management may even be higher as the consequences of a heart attack in these patients may be even more dangerous,” adds Dr. Chen.

About Stony Brook University Heart Institute:

Stony Brook University Heart Institute is located within Stony Brook University Hospital as part of Long Island’s premier university-based medical center. The Heart Institute offers a comprehensive, multidisciplinary program for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. The staff includes full-time and community-based, board-certified cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons, as well as specially trained anesthesiologists, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, surgical technologists, perfusionists, and other support staff. Their combined expertise provides state-of-the-art interventional and surgical capabilities in 24-hour cardiac catheterization labs and surgical suites. And while the Heart Institute clinical staff offers the latest advances in medicine, its physician-scientists are also actively enhancing knowledge of the heart and blood vessels through basic biomedical studies and clinical research. To learn more, visit www.heart.stonybrookmedicine.edu.


Pixabay photo
Dr. On Chen. Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

Now that temperatures are on the rise and humidity is surging , it is important to protect our hearts from the hazards of the summer sun. On Chen, MD, interventional cardiologist and Director of the CCU and Telemetry Units, Outpatient Cardiology Services and the Lipid Program at Stony Brook Medicine, has some suggestions to help you stay heart-safe all summer long.

People with an existing heart condition need to be careful with warmer temperatures, but even a healthy heart can be put under stress when temperatures climb. Following are tips for helping to make your summer heart-safe:

  1. Hydrate. Adequate hydration is nothing less than your best friend as the summer heat moves in. Drinking plenty of water helps regulate your temperature, helps your heart pump more easily and keeps all your organs functioning properly. Remember to drink before you are thirsty, and avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages, which can dehydrate the body. And, it is important to know that some common heart medications can make you more vulnerable to high heat and increase your hydration needs. Talk to your doctor about your specific hydration needs.

  2. Staying Cool. If you don’t have access to air conditioning, cold compresses (an ice-pack or ice-water filled bottle) applied to your ‘pulse points’ — the areas where your veins are closest to your skin’s surface, including wrists, neck, temples and armpits — can help you cool down.

  3. Eat Water-Rich Foods. You get about 20 percent of your water from the foods you eat. A hot weather diet that emphasizes cold soups, salads and fruits can both satisfy hunger and provide extra fluid. Strawberries, watermelon, peaches, cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, peppers and spinach, are all fruits and veggies that are 90 percent or more water.

  4. Know Heat Illness Warning Signs. Spending too much time in extreme heat may lead to heat exhaustion and, in turn, heatstroke, two serious heat-related illnesses in which your body can’t control its temperature.

    1. Heat Exhaustion Symptoms: Heavy sweating, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, tiredness, dizziness and fainting. Treatment: Move to a cool place, loosen clothing, use cold compresses, sip cool (not cold) water. If symptoms persist, call 911.

    2. Heatstroke (also called Sunstroke) Symptoms: Fever of 104 degrees or more; severe headache; behavioral changes; confusion; hot, red skin; no sweating; rapid heartbeat and loss of consciousness. Treatment: Heatstroke is a life-threatening medical emergency. Call 911 immediately. Quickly move the individual to a cooler place, use cold compresses, do not give anything to drink.

  5. Know Your Numbers. See your doctor to get a careful look at your “numbers,” including your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, your blood pressure and more. Knowing your numbers and your risk factors are an important part of heart health, especially before engaging in warm-weather activities.

  6. Timing is Everything. Avoid being outdoors during the hottest times of the day, when the sun is at its strongest and temps are at their highest. Your cardiovascular system has to work harder on a hot day in an effort to keep your body cool. In fact, for every degree that your body temperature rises, your heart has to pump an additional ten beats per minute. Everyone is at risk in extreme heat, but high temperatures and humidity are particularly stressful for those who already have a weakened heart.

  7. Be Sun Savvy. A sunburn can dehydrate you and impede your body’s ability to cool. If you’re going to be outside during the peak sun of the day, be sure to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before you head out. Reapply every couple of hours.

  8. Dress for Sun-cess. Think loose, light-colored clothing (to help reflect heat) that is made of a lightweight, breathable fabric like cotton. Add well-ventilated shoes, a wide-brimmed hat, shades and sunscreen and you’re good to go.

  9. Pace Yourself. Make your warm weather workouts shorter and slower, aim for morning or evening when the temps and humidity are lower, choose shady pathways and trails or an air-conditioned space. Work with your healthcare team to develop a plan that is best for you.

  10. Listen to your body. If you aren’t used to regular exercise, are over 50, have heart disease or have questions about your heart health, see your doctor before participating in any strenuous outdoor summer activities.

Although anyone can be affected by heat illness, people with heart disease are at greater risk.

For more information, visit www.heart.stonybrookmedicine.edu or call (631) 44-HEART.