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Cardiovascular Care


The heart care specialists at South Shore Hospital’s Cardiovascular Center are committed to providing the education and support you need to prevent cardiovascular disease—the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States.

Learn the symptoms of the serious cardiovascular conditions below. For in-person support to take charge of your heart health, find a cardiologist at South Shore or call (781) 624-8272 and we’ll point you to the right physician.

What are the Symptoms of Cardiovascular Disease?

Heart Attack Symptoms

  • Pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest lasting two minutes or more
  • Pain that radiates to the shoulders, neck, arms, back, jaws or teeth
  • Lightheaded feeling, fainting, nausea, or sweating
  • Shortness of breath. May occur with or without chest discomfort
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat

Stroke Symptoms

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

Peripheral Artery Disease Symptoms

  • Leg or hip pain during walking (the pain stops when at rest)
  • Burning or aching pain in feet or toes when resting
  • High blood pressure
  • Cold legs or feet
  • Color change in skin of legs and feet
  • Loss of hair on legs

How is Cardiovascular Disease Diagnosed?

The Cardiovascular Center at South Shore Hospital features southeastern Massachusetts' largest diagnostic lab, where we perform a wide range of tests to diagnose cardiovascular conditions.

The most common tests we perform for heart disease include electrocardiogram (EKG), exercise stress testing and cardiac ultrasound (echocardiogram), as well as lightning-fast, 64-slice CT and diagnostic procedures in our advanced cardiac catheterization lab.

For peripheral artery disease, an ultrasound or CT scan may be performed. We also provide a routine test called an ankle brachial index (ABI), a quick, painless and non-invasive test that compares the blood pressure in the feet and arms.

For stroke, we frequently perform a CT scan or MRI to evaluate the brain for abnormalities.

Know Your Health Numbers

South Shore specialists use results from the screenings below to help them assess the quality of your health. High numbers can indicate that you are at risk for developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes and several forms of cancer. Use this guide to help you track your numbers.

Critical Health Marker Recommended Range More Information
Blood sugar
The amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood


Less than 100 mg/dL = Normal

100-125 mg/dL = Impaired/Pre-Diabetes

126 or Higher = Diabetes

Blood sugar is measured by the amount of glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) in your blood. An HbA1c test gives you a picture of your average blood sugar control for the past 2 to 3 months and provides you with a better idea of how well your diabetes treatment plan is working.
Blood pressure
The force of blood against the arteries when the heart beats and rests

Less than 120/80 mm Hg = Optimal

120-139/80-89 = Prehypertension (at increased risk for developing high blood pressure)

140/90 or higher = High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is typically measured by a device that uses the height of a column of mercury (Hg) to reflect the circulating systolic and diastolic pressures. Systolic pressure (top number) is the peak pressure in the arteries, and diastolic pressure (bottom number) is the lowest pressure.
Blood cholesterol
A waxy substance produced by the liver

Less than 200 mg/dL = Desirable

200-239  mg/dL = Borderline High

240  mg/dL or higher = High


Because cholesterol is unable to dissolve in the blood, it has to be transported to and from the cells by carriers called lipoproteins.
LDL cholesterol
Low-density lipoprotein (or LDL) cholesterol, is known as "bad" cholesterol

Less than 100 mg/dL = Optimal

100-129 mg/dL = Near Above Optimal

130-159  mg/dL = Borderline High

160-189  mg/dL = High

190  mg/dL or higher = Very High

Your actual LDL depends on your other heart disease risk factors. Talk to your doctor.
HDL cholesterol
High-density lipoprotein (or HDL) cholesterol, is known as "good" cholesterol.

Less than 40 mg/dL for men and 50 mg/dL for women increases the risk for heart disease.

An HDL level of 60 mg/dL or more helps lower your risk for heart disease.
Triglycerides are the chemical form in which most fat exists in food as well as in the body.

Less than 150 mg/dL = Normal

150 to 199 mg/dL = Borderline High

200 to 499 mg/dL = High

500 mg/dL or higher = Very high

Changes in lifestyle habits are the main therapy for hypertriglyceridemia. Patients should follow the specific plans laid out by their physicians and nutritionists.
Waist Measurement
Waist circumference is the distance around your natural waist (just above the navel). 

Men - Over 40" indicates increased risk for weight-related problems

Women - Over 35" indicates increased risk for weight-related problems

Your body is made up of water, fat, protein, carbohydrate and various vitamins and minerals. If you have too much fat — especially if a lot of it is at your waist — you're at higher risk for such health problems as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes. That increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.


Body Mass Index (BMI)
BMI assesses your body weight relative to height. It's a useful, indirect measure of body composition because it correlates highly with body fat in most people.

Below 18.5 = Underweight

18.5-24.9 = Normal

25.0-29.9 = Overweight

30.0 and over = Obese

A person's ideal body weight varies by gender, age, height, and frame. Your BMI and waist circumference provide good indicators of whether you are at a healthy weight.




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