My Blog
By Virginia Y. Gonzalez
February 24, 2020
Category: Cardiology

An arrhythmia is defined as an irregular heartbeat. Essentially, you have arrhythmia if your heart beats too slowly, quickly, irregularly, or early. This means that having arrhythmia means that your heartbeat is out of the normal rhythm. In many cases, arrhythmias are harmless. But if they’re especially abnormal or caused by a damaged or weakened heart, they can result in severe symptoms.

With this in mind, don’t hesitate to visit us here at Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center, APMC, in West Monroe, LA, if you feel that something’s off with your heartbeat, but are not feeling any other severe symptoms. Dr. Virginia Gonzalez will be able to determine whether your arrhythmia is harmless or something to be concerned about.

Different Kinds of Arrhythmias


The most common heart arrhythmia is AFib or atrial fibrillation and it occurs in the heart’s top chambers. It happens when plenty of volatile electrical signals fail, causing your atria to quiver uncontrollably. Mainly, AFib increases your heart rate and makes it erratic.


This occurs when your heart beats too quickly, causing it to beat more than 100 BPM or beats per minute.


This is characterized by a slower than normal heart rate, causing the heart to beat less than 60 BPM. It happens when electrical impulses that travel from your atria to your ventricles are disrupted. Do note though that some people in great physical health, athletes, for instance, usually have slower heart rates, which is normal for them.

Atrial Fibrillation

AFL or atrial flutter usually occurs in the heart’s right atrium, but can also affect the left atrium. It’s caused by an electrical signal that travels quickly in the atrium, resulting in a fast heart rate.

Premature Contractions

In most cases of premature contractions, your heart seems to miss a beat when your pulse is taken in your chest or wrist. Others, however, include early and extra heartbeats. All these can happen in the lower and upper chambers.

Ventricular Fibrillation

VF or ventricular fibrillation is an immensely dangerous arrhythmia that affects the ventricles. VF stops the ventricles from pumping blood out of the heart to the brain and body because of the irregular heartbeat. Worst-case scenario, it could stop your heartbeat and lead to cardiac arrest, even death, if not treated right away.

Symptoms of Arrhythmias

If you have an arrhythmia, you might feel the following symptoms:

  • Irregular heart palpitations or pulse
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or faintness
  • Sweats
  • Pale skin

Concerned about irregular heartbeat?

As mentioned above, many arrhythmias are usually harmless. But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t worry if you have an irregular heartbeat, especially if you heart disease risk factors or have already been diagnosed with heart disease. Just to be on the safe side, visit us at Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center, APMC, West Monroe, LA. Schedule your appointment by calling (318) 338-3540. Dr. Virginia Gonzalez will check out your symptoms to figure out what’s causing your arrhythmia.

By Virginia Y. Gonzalez
February 24, 2020
Category: Cardiology
Tags: Heart Disease  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading cause of death for both women and men, and individuals of most ethnic groups and races in the U.S. is heart disease. In fact, approximately 647,000 people in the U.S. pass away from heart disease every year, thus accounting for one in four deaths annual deaths in the country.

This is why preventive heart care is immensely crucial. Here at Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center, APMC, in West Monroe, LA, we offer heart disease prevention services under the care of our cardiologist, Dr. Virginia Gonzalez—read on to learn more.

What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease is actually an umbrella term that refers to a variety of conditions that impact the heart. The most common heart diseases include:

  • CAD (coronary artery disease), PAD (peripheral artery disease), and other diseases affecting the blood vessels
  • Congenital heart diseases (heart defects from birth)
  • Arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats)
  • Cardiomyopathy (enlarging or thickening of the heart)

What are Heart Disease Risk Factors?

Certain lifestyle habits or coexisting health conditions could increase your risk of developing heart disease. You can change or control some of them, but others are out of your hands. These risk factors include the following:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Prediabetes or diabetes
  • Physical inactivity
  • A history of heart disease in the family
  • An unhealthy diet
  • Age; being older than 45 years old
  • Preeclampsia during pregnancy

During a consultation at our West Monroe office, your cardiologist will determine your heart disease risk factors so that you can take the necessary steps to control or change them.

What Causes Heart Disease?

There’s no one cause of heart disease, although there are many contributing factors. However, these factors will differ depending on what kind of heart disease you have. Plaque and cholesterol buildup in the arteries, for instance, causes PAD and CAD. Conversely, irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, is usually caused by various factors, including:

  • Congenital heart defects
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption
  • Stress
  • Drug abuse
  • Certain OTC medications, herbal supplements, dietary supplements, and prescription drugs

What’s The Treatment for Heart Disease?

Treatment will significantly depend on what exact heart disease you have. For instance, CAD can be treated with medication and keeping your blood pressure under control. Surgery may also be required for opening or unclogging arteries to improve blood flow to your heart. You will also need to follow a heart-healthy diet and exercise plan, quit smoking, limit your alcohol intake, and find effective ways to manage your stress levels.

Take Charge of Your Heart Health Now

Contact Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center, APMC, in West Monroe, LA, now. Book your appointment with your cardiologist, Dr. Virginia Gonzalez, by dialing (318) 338-3540.

By Virginia Y. Gonzalez
February 20, 2020
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: EKGs   Stress Tests  

Stress tests and EKGs are heart tests that could aid your cardiologist in checking how well or not your heart is functioning. An electrocardiogram or EKG measures the activity of your heart, while a stress test measures how your heart manages stress.

These heart tests help your cardiologist here at Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center, APMC, in West Monroe, LA, Dr. Virginia Gonzalez, better assess your heart’s function to devise a treatment plan that will suit your particular needs.

What is a Stress Test?

A stress test, also known as an exercise test or treadmill test, helps your cardiologist find out how capable your heart is under stress. During the test, you’ll be hooked up with an EKG as you jog or walk on the treadmill. During testing, your body will naturally work harder and will need more oxygen, which means that your heart should pump out more blood. Essentially, the test will indicate if blood flow is decreased in your arteries that provide blood to your heart. Likewise, it will help your cardiologist determine the most suitable level of physical activity for you.

What is an EKG?

An EKG or ECG refers to an electrocardiogram, which is a heart test for measuring your heartbeat’s electrical activity. With every beat, a wave or electrical impulse travels through your heart and triggers it to pump blood from your heart. If you have a normal heartbeat, the EKG will display the timing of your heart’s lower and top chambers.

An EKG provides two main types of information about your heartbeat’s electrical activity. First, by calculating the time intervals, your cardiologist can figure out how long the wave takes when passing through your heat. In turn, this will show if your heartbeat’s electrical activity is slow, normal, irregular, or fast. Second, by calculating how much electrical activity passes through your heart, your cardiologist can see if some parts of your heart are overworked or too big.

Who Should Have a Stress Test and EKG?

Depending on your specific symptoms, our cardiologist, Dr. Virginia Gonzalez, may recommend that you undergo a stress test and an EKG here at our clinic in West Monroe, LA. For example, your cardiologist may recommend that undergo a stress test and EKG if you’re showing signs of heart disease including shortness of breath, chest pain, heavy heartbeat, or irregular heartbeat.

You may likewise have to do the tests if you’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes, or other underlying health risks. Additionally, your cardiologist may also recommend these heart tests prior to starting a new exercise regimen if you have an increased risk of developing heart disease.

Feel Like You Need an EKG or Stress Test?

Contact Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center, APMC, West Monroe, LA, at (318) 338-3540 for more information. Dr. Virginia Gonzalez will evaluate your specific symptoms and determine your eligibility for these heart tests.

By Virginia Y. Gonzalez
February 20, 2020
Category: Heart Conditions

Did you know that you have control over certain stroke risk factors? In fact, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke states that approximately 80% of stroke events are preventable if you’re fully aware of your risk factors and do certain lifestyle modifications to control them. Here at Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center, APMC, in West Monroe, LA, Dr. Virginia Gonzalez can help you identify your stroke risk factors. This way, you can take certain steps to reduce your risk of experiencing a stroke.

Risk factors, both uncontrollable and controllable

Knowing the following risk factors will empower you to take the right preventive measures and prioritize stroke prevention:

  • You are older than 55 years old: The American Stroke Association (ASA) states that your risk for stroke doubles for each decade following your 55th
  • You’re female: According to the National Stroke Association, approximately 55,000 more females annually will experience a stroke than males.
  • You have a stroke history in the family.
  • You are Hispanic or African American: The ASA states that these ethnicities are more susceptible to stroke than other ethnicities.
  • You’ve already had heart problems: For example, if you have already had a stroke, TIA (transient ischemic attack), or heart attack, your stroke risk might increase. Other health issues associated with stroke include sleep apnea, sickle cell anemia, and atrial fibrillation.

Your stroke risk could likewise increase if these risk factors apply to you:

  • You have coexisting health issues: Heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, and other health issues can all raise your stroke risk.
  • You’re obese, overweight, and/or sedentary: If you sit around all day and are not regularly receiving sufficient exercise, you’re not only increasing your risk for stroke, but for a myriad of health problems as well.
  • You have unhealthy eating habits: Foods rich in fat, sodium, and calories can contribute to high blood pressure and high cholesterol, in turn, raising your stroke risk.
  • You’re still smoking: Cigarettes can cause a whole lot of damage to your heart and raise your stroke risk.

Concerned about your stroke risk?

Contact our office, Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center, APMC, in West Monroe, LA. Book your consultation with our cardiologist, Dr. Virginia Gonzalez by calling (318) 338-3540 now.

By Dr. Virginia Y. Gonzalez
December 26, 2019
Category: Cardiology
Tags: Chest Pain   Cardiologist  

Does chest pain always require immediate medical care? Find out more.

When people think about chest pain they often think about a heart attack. After all, chest pain is a classic symptom of this serious and possibly life-threatening condition; however, chest pain doesn’t necessarily mean that you are dealing with a heart attack. Furthermore, your chest pain may not even be heart-related at all. Find out the many causes of chest pain, when to seek emergency medical care, and when to see our West Monroe, LA, cardiologist Dr. Virginia Gonzalez for an evaluation.

Causes of Chest Pain

Chest pain is a common symptom of heart disease. With the growing number of people developing heart disease it’s so important that you see a doctor to rule out heart disease if you are experiencing chest pain of any kind. Heart disease can easily be managed with lifestyle changes and medication.

Other cardiac-related causes of chest pain include:

  • Angina: a blockage of blood flow to the heart
  • Myocarditis: inflammation of the heart muscle
  • Pericarditis: inflammation of the tissue around the heart

Of course, there are also non-cardiac-related causes of chest pain too. These causes include:

  • Lung infections and conditions: this includes inflammation of the lungs (pleurisy), airway problems (asthma), a blood clot, or a collapsed lung
  • Digestive problems: this includes heartburn or inflammation of the esophagus, pancreas, or gallbladder
  • Bone and muscle problems: rib fractures, muscle strain, or costochondritis
  • Anxiety disorder: sometimes a panic attack can lead to heart palpitations, breathing problems and chest tightness

When to Call 911

There are no clear-cut rules when it comes to determining whether chest pain requires emergency medical attention; however, there are some guidelines that you should follow. Call 911 or head to your nearest emergency room if:

  • You feel as if your chest is being crushed
  • You have pain, numbness, or weakness that travels to the shoulder, arms, neck, or lower jaw
  • You also experience shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • The pain gets worse within 15 minutes
  • You feel dizzy or lightheaded
  • Your chest pain occurs at rest
  • Your symptoms aren’t alleviated by medication (e.g. antacids)
  • You experience a rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Your chest pain is accompanied by nausea and vomiting

When to See a Cardiologist

If you are experiencing chest pain in West Monroe, LA, the only way to find out what’s going on is to see a heart doctor who will be able to perform the necessary diagnostic tests. A doctor should check out any cases of chest pain as soon as possible.

Nothing is more important than your heart health. If you are dealing with any symptoms or issues it’s important that you have a cardiologist that you can turn to for care. Call Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center in West Monroe, LA, today.

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