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Keeping tabs on your health in today’s digital age is easier than ever before. But did you know that when it comes to monitoring your heart rate, a wrist-worn device isn’t as effective as one that’s strapped to your chest?

PC Magazine recently offered a review of 10 wearable heart monitors, and four out of the top five personal devices used chest straps to record heart activity. The magazine noted that chest-strap models, which use an electrical pulse to measure heart rate, are more accurate than wrist-worn devices that employ optical technology.

That finding is backed by a March 2017 report by the Cleveland Clinic, which tested five wrist-worn fitness trackers and came to the same conclusion – that monitors worn across the chest are more accurate at measuring heart rate while exercising.

Heart monitoring during sustained physical activity is especially important for individuals with heart murmurs and mild-to-moderate mitral valve regurgitation (MVR).

Here’s a list of the top chest-worn models (prices may vary):

Wahoo Fitness Tickr X Heart Rate Monitor: “The Wahoo Fitness Tickr X is the best heart rate strap you can buy. It’s so much more than just a heart rate monitor, and yet it costs the same as other excellent chest straps that don’t offer nearly as much. It doubles as a run tracker. You can use it with or without your phone.”

$99.99 MSRP; $79 at (

Polar H7 Heart Rate Sensor: “Polar users in need of an accurate HRM can’t go wrong with the H7, but it’s also good for anyone looking to add heart rate data to their run-tracking using one of the five supported apps. And if it works with your home or gym fitness equipment, all the better. The price is right, too. The Polar H7 is one of the most versatile and accurate HRMs available.”

$79.95 MSRP; $62.99 at (

Polar H10 Heart Rate Sensor: “If your current H7 chest strap is showing some wear and tear, you might want to think about upgrading to the H10. The extended battery life and built-in memory make it a solid investment, especially if you have or are thinking of getting a Polar fitness tracker.”

$89.95 MSRP; $89.95 at (

Garmin HRM-Run: “For runners who want a plethora of data, the Garmin HRM-Run gives you advanced stats including cadence, oscillation, ground contact time, ground contact balance, stride length, and vertical ratio. It makes for a pricey bundle when paired with a compatible tracker, but one worth considering.”

$99.95 MSRP; $83.74 at (

Dr. Peter Mikhail is a cardiac and thoracic surgeon based in New Port Richey, Florida, who treats patients in the Tampa and Clearwater areas. For more information on his practice or to schedule a consultation, visit Dr. Mikhail’s Mitral Valve and Aortic Valve website or call 727-312-4844.


Blood pressure and heart health go hand in hand. Your blood pressure reading reflects two numbers, systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. Your systolic pressure measures the pressure of the blood against your artery walls when the heart pumps blood out during a heartbeat, while your diastolic pressure measures this pressure in-between heartbeats when your heart is full of blood. Ideally, your blood pressure should read below 120/80. One in three American adults suffer from high blood pressure.  One thing you can do to keep your blood pressure in check is to eat a balanced diet. Certain foods are known to increase your blood pressure.  We suggest you avoid the following foods or limit them in your diet to keep your blood pressure in a good range:

  1. Soda/sweetened beverages – Sugar-loaded drinks can quickly lead to weight gain; excessive weight on the body can raise a person’s blood pressure.
  2. Processed meats and other foods – Deli meats like turkey or ham are loaded with sodium, which can raise a person’s blood pressure. Lots of packaged foods contain high amounts of sodium, e.g. canned soup, frozen meals, tomato sauces, canned vegetables and bread. These foods have a lot of sodium, because this ingredient is used to preserve the foods.
  3. Baked goods – Cakes, doughnuts, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, pies and more are loaded with sugar, but also contain a lot of saturated and trans fats. Both these “bad” fats are known to increase blood pressure.
  4. Candy – When you eat a piece of candy, you’re basically consuming empty calories and a lot of sugar; candy can spike your sugar levels and can lead to weight gain.
  5. Alcohol – Excessive use of alcohol can lead to weight gain and dehydration both of which can lead to an increase in blood pressure.

Each day, you should aim to keep your sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams; sugar should be limited to 37.5 grams per day for men and 25 grams per day for women. It’s best to avoid or limit the above foods and opt for water, 100 percent fruit juices, fresh meat, fruit, homemade (healthier) desserts, nuts, legumes, vegetables, and whole grains.

If you currently have high blood pressure or heart disease, it’s wise to discuss with your doctor the best meal plan for you. If you suffer from mitral valve disease or aortic valve disease and need surgery, Dr. Peter Mikhail is a cardiac surgeon treating patients in the Tampa, Clearwater and New Port Richey areas of Florida. To book an appointment, click here or call 727-312-4844.



During your annual physical, a doctor will listen to your heart with a stethoscope. If the doctor hears anything troubling or odd, he or she will recommend that you have an echocardiogram done on your heart. What is an echocardiogram? An echocardiogram (echo) will show doctors the size, structures, and movements of the parts within your heart. Through this test, a doctor will be able to determine several things, including: the size of your heart, the state of your heart muscles, heart valve problems, problems with your heart’s structure, and signs of blood clots or tumors.

During an echo, a technician will place three electrodes which are attached to an electrocardiograph monitor (ECG or EKG) on your chest. You will be asked to lay down on your left side. He or she will place a wand (with gel on the end) on your chest; the wand is a sound-wave transducer. You may have to change positions a few times during the test, so several areas of your heart will be photographed. Echos are safe and you should feel no discomfort.

An echo lasts for about 40 minutes; you can return to work or other daily activities immediately following. You can eat, drink, and take any medications normally before this test.

There are several different types of echocardiograms and your doctor will determine which one is right for you. Here are brief descriptions of the types of echocardiograms:

Transthoracic echocardiogram – This is the basic echo and is like an x-ray (minus the radiation).
Transesophageal echocardiogram – In this echo, the transducer is inserted down the throat into the esophagus, because the esophagus is close to the heart.
Stress echocardiogram – This echo is taken while the person exercises on a treadmill or stationary bike.
Dobutamine stress echocardiogram – This is a stress echo but without the exercise; the stress is obtained through a drug that makes the body think its exercising.
Intravascular ultrasound – This ultrasound is performed during cardiac catheterization, and the transducer is threaded into the heart blood vessels through a catheter in the groin.

If you’ve had an echo or other stress test, this can help the doctor determine if you are currently suffering from heart valve disease. If you found out you have mitral valve disease or aortic valve disease and need surgery, Dr. Peter Mikhail is an experienced cardiac surgeon who specializes in mitral valve surgery and mini-AVR. To book an appointment, click here or call 727-312-4844.


Have a sweet tooth? Cupcakes. Chocolate. Ice cream. These sweet treats are certainly delicious, but they’re best eaten in moderation. Sugar is the main ingredient that makes these foods extra tasty. Unfortunately, too much of this ingredient is harmful to our bodies, including our heart.

According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2014, a diet high in sugar can raise a person’s risk of dying of heart disease. Even if your weight is in a normal range, you can still be at a higher risk because of your sugar-heavy diet.  In this study, people who consumed 17 to 21 percent of their calories from this ingredient had a 38 percent higher chance of dying from heart disease compared to people who only had 8 percent of their calories coming from added sugar. The more sugar a person consumes, the higher the odds are for him or her to die from heart disease.

Most adults in America consume around 22 teaspoons of added sugar in their daily diet, which is well over the recommended amount. According to the American Heart Association, most women should consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day, and most men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons of sugar per day.

It’s easy to consume excess sugar in today’s world. Much of the packaged food out there is processed and made with added sugars. Some foods known for their high sugar count include: soft drinks, candy, cakes, cookies, donuts, bagels, fruit drinks, waffles, cereals, sports drinks, ice cream, sweetened yogurt, pies, pastries, and more.

When people consume too much added sugar, they also risk gaining weight, raising their blood pressure, and developing Type 2 diabetes. These high-sugar foods are usually devoid of quality vitamins and minerals, as well.

It’s OK to have these foods in moderation, but for daily sweet cravings opt for fruit instead.

If you currently have heart disease and are looking for a cardiac surgeon, Dr. Peter Mikhail performs mitral valve surgery and aortic valve surgery in the cities of Tampa, Clearwater and New Port Richey in Florida. To book an appointment, click here or call 727-312-4844.


If you’re experiencing symptoms of heart disease, there’s a good chance you’ve gone to see your doctor. Chest pain, dizziness, and shortness of breath are all red flags that should send you to your doctor immediately. If a doctor hears anything alarming through a stethoscope, he or she will suggest you have some testing done to confirm if you have heart disease. You will also need to make an appointment with a cardiologist. One such test you will have to take is a stress test.

A stress test can help the doctors determine if you have heart disease.  One type of stress test, and the one most often used, is the exercise stress test.  During an exercise stress test, you will either walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike. The doctor will use the test to track your electrocardiogram, heart rate and blood pressure.

What does this test do or show? An exercise stress test will show a few things to the doctor, including:

  • If enough blood is flowing to the heart during activity
  • If there are any abnormal heart rhythms
  • If the heart valves are functioning properly
  • If you have coronary heart disease
  • If your symptoms (chest pain, palpitations, dizziness) are being caused by a heart issue
  • If your heart medications are working (if you’re on any) and how

Before the test, you cannot eat or drink anything except water for four hours prior to the test, and cannot have caffeine for 12 hours before the test. There are also certain medications your doctor will tell you that you cannot take before the test, – your doctor will advise you.

Before you begin exercising on the test, an EKG will be done to take your heart rate at rest. After the EKG, you will begin exercising. The exercising will gradually get more difficult to get you exhausted. You will be asked throughout how you are feeling and if you’re experiencing any symptoms. The test lasts about 60 mins, but you’re only exercising around 10 minutes.

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it may be time to talk to your doctor and see if a stress test is a good idea. Depending on the test’s results, you’ll want to see a cardiologist. If you’re looking for a cardiac surgeon, Dr. Peter Mikhail specializes in mitral valve and aortic valve surgery. To book an appointment with him, click here or call 727-312-4844.



By now, most people know that smoking cigarettes is not good for the body. However, many people associate smoking with only its negative impact on the lungs, teeth, and mouth area. This is far from the truth. Smoking can affect the entire body, including the heart. There are many studies out there that suggest cigarette smoking is a major cause for coronary heart disease, which could ultimately lead to a heart attack. One out of five deaths from heart disease is related to smoking.

When a person is smoking, the combination of smoke and nicotine raises blood pressure, decreases good (HDL) cholesterol, decreases a person’s ability to exercise effectively, and increases the likelihood for a blood clot.  Smoking also reduces the amount of oxygen that goes to the heart, increases heart rate, gives the blood a sticky consistency, and harms the blood vessels.

People who smoke and have a family history of heart disease have an even higher chance of developing heart disease themselves. The odds are not in a smoker’s favor. If you are a smoker, your chances of developing heart disease can double or even be quadrupled than if you didn’t. If you’re a woman, your odds are even higher as a smoker (25 percent more likely) to suffer a stroke.

If any one of these facts scares you, you may want to rethink putting that next cigarette in your mouth. Once you quit smoking, your risk for heart disease and stroke is cut down in half just after one year of being smoke free.

If you are diagnosed with heart valve disease, your doctor will recommend several lifestyle changes – quitting smoking will be one of them.

Heart valve disease can turn deadly if it leads to a heart attack or stroke, so it’s in your best interest to practice heart-healthy habits that will keep you healthier longer.

If you currently suffer from heart valve disease and are considering surgery, contact cardiac surgeon Dr. Peter Mikhail in Tampa, Clearwater, and New Port Richey, Florida. Dr. Mikhail specializes in mitral valve surgery and min-AVR, which are minimally invasive surgeries. To learn more about heart valve surgery, click here or call 727-312-4844 to book an appointment with Dr. Mikhail today.


Heart valve problems don’t just develop and occur from poor dietary and lifestyle choices. Many times, patients who suffer from heart disease were born with heart valve deformities. For some, these deformities end up causing problems or raise concern later in life. For this article, we wanted to discuss the topic of bicuspid aortic valve disease, which is one type of heart disease.

When a person has bicuspid aortic valve disease, their valve has two flaps (leaflets) instead of three. Because of this missing flap, the valve does not function properly; however, it can function properly for many years in a person’s life. Even with this missing flap, a person may experience no symptoms for his or her entire life. How can a person be missing a flap? Much research has suggested this missing valve flap is due to a connective tissue disorder, which can also cause circulatory system problems. It is believed the two flaps develop in the womb and the defect usually is there from birth.

Even if a person is born with this defect, he or she often does not know about it until his or her adult years. As the valve gets older, symptoms occur; however, a murmur is usually present during childhood. It is a common disease that runs in families.  As a person ages, the valve and leaflets begin to thicken and restrict blood flow.  In older age, a person may experience chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, and fainting.

A doctor can determine if a person has bicuspid aortic valve disease by listening to the heart, by performing an echocardiogram, or by ordering CT scans or MRI of the heart. If a person is diagnosed, it is important to stay under the watch of a heart valve specialist. If this disease goes unwatched or untreated, a person can develop aortic aneurysms or heart failure.

About 30 percent of people with bicuspid aortic valve disease will develop complications. About 80 percent of people with this type of heart disease need surgery. Aortic valve surgery is performed on patients to repair or replace the diseased valve with a mechanical or biological valve.

If you’ve been diagnosed with bicuspid aortic valve disease and are looking for a heart valve surgeon, Dr. Peter Mikhail performs mini-AVR on patients. He works in Tampa, Clearwaters, and the New Port Richey areas of Florida. Mini-AVR is a minimally-invasive procedure. To learn more about mini-AVR, click here. To book an appointment with Dr. Mikhail, click here or call 727-312-4844.




Dr. Peter Mikhail is a thoracic and cardiac surgeon in Tampa, Clearwater, and New Port Richey, Florida. Dr. Mikhail is Board Certified by the American Board of Surgery, The American Board of Thoracic Surgery and The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

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