By AnnElise Makin
When the doctor is in, this cardiologist is all there.
Time is of essence for Dr. Afroze Ahmad. Not in the rush-rush sense, but as in dedicating enough time to a patient. Over the years, she has developed a keen ear for matters of the heart.
"We have to take better care of cardiology patients," Dr. Ahmad stated in view of her mission. She established the Las Sendas Cardiology BC, on the corner of Power and Thomas roads, this January. The clinic offers a full-service cardiology practice, with high-tech diagnostics and a comprehensive treatment approach.
"I felt compelled to offer a practice style where the patient is actively involved in his or her care," Dr. Ahmad pointed out. "We have so many disabling and chronic diseases in heart health, but follow up and intervention still only play a miniscule part in therapy. Patient initiative, however, is crucial to the success of a treatment plan."
Dr. Ahmad divides her clinical assessment into three main steps. First, the specialist identifies the predominant problem through exam and interview. Then, she configures the most appropriate treatment plan, for example, to lower the blood pressure.
Now, add to the highest medical standard, the third component—time and care. "For me, it is crucially important to search for possible causes of disease with the patient," the specialist explained. "Together we ask, why is the blood pressure high?"
So, the patient understands what the bad influences are and learns to avoid relapses into illness. If the intake of salt needs to be reduced, a patient may be advised to cut down on canned or cured foods. Or increase exercise for heart strength. Or accept any beneficial modification of lifestyle.
"Unfortunately, there is no cookie cutter approach for such a customized therapy plan," Dr. Ahmad summarized. "In our two-way communication, I always want to let a patient know why a certain risk factor needs to be avoided or how to take their medications correctly."
In her work in the field of heart disease, Dr. Ahmad has observed many cases of depression. She has a compassionate view about this concomitant disease.
"It is very simple and easy," she said. "We must develop a task force, because depression and heart disease travel together, like brother and sister. Heart patients frequently are depressed. This is common but not normal."
"Depression feeds on heart disease and vice versa," the cardiologist continued. "The cause for depression is not a known mechanism, but depression has been observed leading to heart disease.
"What we do know is that people who are depressed and in a low mood, exhibit certain dynamics in blood pressure that may not be favorable," she continued. "The immune system and clotting mechanisms also are adversely affected and mortality rate increases."
Whatever the case, a thorough interview and medication review can be life altering for heart patients. Dr. Ahmad assesses side effects and possible interactions, as well as affordability of brand versus generic medications.
"The perfect care for heart patients has not yet been devised," Dr. Ahmad conceded. And there is no such thing as a one-fits-all therapy. Some factors (genetic lipid profile, age-related dysfunction) cannot be changed, but keen awareness can save lives.
"A young patient of mine achieved normal test results, but later she still had chest pains. The doctor has to be accessible when a patient calls and reassure them. In her case, the symptoms were stress related."
As uninformed behaviors may put a sound heart at risk, Dr. Ahmad routinely asks family members about their observations. What about the diet? How much salt? Do your legs retain water? Can you keep your legs elevated?
"We can't change our genetics, gender or age," Dr. Ahmad said, "but so much intervention can be done to achieve a favorable outcome and promote well-being. Every heart truly matters." Dr. Ahmad is a doctor who listens.