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Marijuana is no longer illegal everywhere, as many states have legalized its usage for both medicinal and recreational purposes. It is a commonly used drug. In recent years, more reports have emerged about marijuana’s cardiovascular side effects. These side effects may be uncommon, but they can still be potentially harmful.

Some studies and theories state that marijuana slows down the blood flow in the coronary arteries. One study showed a patient passing out after marijuana usage; this patient developed dangerous heart rhythms from the reduction of blood flow in the coronary arteries. After the marijuana was out of the system, the flow reverted to normal, as well as the heart rhythm. In another case, the slow coronary blood flow due to marijuana usage led to a major heart attack.

The body’s heart rate and blood pressure increase within minutes of using marijuana despite people saying the drug has relaxing effects. Statistically, people who use marijuana are more likely to use other illegal drugs, more likely to smoke, and have a poorer diet, which are all risk factors for heart disease.

One of the more common side effects of marijuana usage reported is an irregular heart beat (atrial fibrillation). Usually, the afib occurred right after inhaling. Often, afib can occur without the person even knowing. Usually, there was no recurrence once the marijuana usage stopped.

In one study, the risk of heart attack increased 5 times the average after one hour after using the drug. Other reports have found this same finding.
It can be hard to target marijuana as the sole reason a person is experiencing heart problems, because often the person is also a smoker or uses other drugs, so to put the blame solely on marijuana would be false. As more studies and reports study marijuana’s relation to heart disease and other heart problems, we will be able to see if there is a correlation, and if marijuana causes harmful side effects to the heart. Despite there not being many studies proving one way or another if the drug’s effect on the heart is bad, it is still good to keep in mind that the drug may have some harmful effects.

If you experience afib or any other issues with your heart, it’s time to get them checked out. If you suffer from heart valve disease and need surgery to repair or replace a valve, it’s time to talk to a heart valve surgeon about your options. Dr. Peter Mikhail is a heart valve surgeon who performs mitral valve surgery, TAVR and mini-AVR. To book a consult, click here or call 727-312-4844. He is based in New Port Richey, Florida, and treats patients in the Tampa and Clearwater areas.


February has just past, and whether you’re in a relationship or not, you may have had your share of Valentine’s Day candies. Who can resist the heart-shaped chocolates in the store? Since you may have consumed an excess amount of chocolate, you may be wondering, “Is chocolate even good for me? And my heart?” The good news: it is! However, you should be eating it in moderation. Too much of anything can be bad for the body.

Chocolate has positive benefits on the body. How? It can help promote better blood flow, lower blood pressure and improve some cardiac conditions. A few years ago, researchers from Boston to Birmingham conducted a trial and found that chocolate helps the heart because of the flavonoids it contains. Studies have showed people with higher weekly consumption of chocolate had the lowest risk for heart disease, but if you replaced that chocolate with candies (non-chocolate) they could actually double their heart disease risk.

Flavonoids are a nutritional subset of polyphenols, which help lower incidences of coronary heart disease and stroke. The highest flavonoid amount is found in dark chocolate.

According to the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, polyphenols help to improve the health of the blood vessels.  In one study, people who consumed 16-100 grams of chocolate per day benefitted the most from consumption.

Dark chocolate isn’t the answer to all your heart problems though! Eating chocolate all day will not make you the healthiest person. You still need to consume a heart-healthy diet full of protein, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

So, enjoy a piece or two of that left-over Valentine’s candy!

If you have a history of heart disease in your family or currently suffer from heart disease, it’s time to talk to your doctor about the best heart-healthy diet for your specific needs.  If you suffer from heart disease and potentially need surgery, it’s time to talk to a heart valve surgeon. Dr. Peter Mikhail is a heart valve surgeon who specializes in mitral valve surgery and TAVR. To book a consult, click here or call 727-312-4844. He is based in New Port Richey, Florida, and treats patients in the Tampa and Clearwater areas.


You just had heart valve surgery. Be proud of yourself and your body for undergoing some major surgery to enable you to lead a healthier, longer life. But, now what? What do you do after heart valve surgery? How do you take care of your heart? We want to share some basic things you will need to do to stay healthy after heart valve surgery.

Right after surgery, you will be told to walk regularly, perform breathing exercises and gradually increase activity. Your doctor will give you recovery instructions, such as to watch for any signs of infection, incision care, pain management, and post-op side effects. Your doctor will determine when you can return to daily activities. Cardiac rehabilitation (to help improve health and help with recovery) may be recommended by your doctor, as well as permanent lifestyle changes when it comes to diet, physical activities, tobacco usage, and stress management.

If you had mitral valve surgery recently or even a few years back, you may be wondering “How do I take care of myself going forward?” If your repair went well, your doctor will check up on you periodically. If he or she doesn’t hear anything irregular through a stethoscope, no extra testing will be needed, especially if you feel fine and have no alarming symptoms. If you’ve had an artificial valve put in, your doctor will pay attention to its wear and tear and know when it needs to be replaced again.

If you’ve had a good repair by a good surgeon, your heart (and new valves) should be long-lasting. There is no need to repeat unnecessary tests if you feel fine and the doctor hears or sees no problem during a physical exam.

Your doctor will continue to recommend that you eat well, watch salt intake, watch your weight, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and aim to do some form of exercise regularly.

If you stick to healthy diet and exercise choices and get checked up once or twice a year by your doctor, you will continue to keep your heart happy and healthy.

If you suffer from heart disease, it’s time to talk to a heart valve surgeon about your options. If you’re looking for a great heart valve surgeon, Dr. Peter Mikhail specializes in mitral valve surgery and TAVR. To book a consult, click here or call 727-312-4844. He is based in New Port Richey, Florida, and treats patients in the Tampa and Clearwater areas.


Survival and mortality rates isn’t a subject anyone is excited to talk about, but we must talk about it when it comes to having heart valve disease and surgery.

There are potential risks when undergoing any surgery, even a minimally-invasive surgery. When it comes to heart valve surgery, there isn’t a set percentage, per se, for the survival or mortality rates, because it’s very situational; the numbers depend on the patients. For example, a healthy 50-year-old who needs to undergo heart valve surgery might have a 0.5 percent risk of death (1 out of 200), but an 85-year-old patient with other health problems could have a 10 to 15 percent (or more) mortality rate. However, to give you a ballpark average, according to The Society of Thoracic Surgeons the mortality rate for heart valve surgery is about 1.7 percent. In some clinics, this percentage is even lower.

If you’re having heart valve issues, an experienced heart valve surgeon, like Dr. Peter Mikhail, will meet with you, give you an exam and look at your history to determine if you are a candidate for mitral valve surgery, mini-AVR or TAVR. Even if you are a good candidate, the doctor will make you aware of the risks that come along with the procedure. If the procedure is too risky for you, the doctor will not suggest surgery.

If a person with severe heart disease is a candidate for surgery, then surgery is highly recommended. Without surgery, the patient could risk an early death. For example, a person who has severe aortic stenosis only has an average 50 percent survival rate after 2 years with the severe disease and only 20 percent after five years if he or she goes without surgery.

Each year, more than 700,000 heart surgeries take place globally, and more than 250,000 of these surgeries are valve repairs and replacements. With such a large number of people undergoing this surgery you don’t have to worry about having some new, untested surgical procedure.

If you’re hesitant about having heart valve surgery, we understand. You want to look for a surgeon who will answer all your questions, and who is extremely experienced in this type of surgery. Dr. Peter Mikhail, who is based in New Port Richey, Florida, is one of the foremost authorities and specialists in mitral valve surgery, mini-AVR and TAVR. To book a consultation, click here or call his office at 727-312-4844.


Heart valve surgery is a life-saving procedure. Today there are minimally-invasive mitral valve and aortic valve surgeries, so the patient has a shorter recovery period. However, the possibility of re-operations on the heart valve does occur. Why? Leaking can occur. Also, the valves are not everlasting and are subject to wear and tear over the years.

A mechanical valve can last inside a person’s body for more than 20 years. The valves are made from pyrolytic carbon. Most likely, you will need valve surgery only once, and never have to replace the valve. That is, unless you get this surgery done at a younger age. A biological tissue valve often has to be replaced because it lasts only 10 to 18 years. A patient’s life expectancy is strongly considered with this valve, since he or she will most likely need another surgery when the first tissue valve degenerates. This type of valve is recommended for patients 60 years old or older.

Nothing is perfect; sometimes, patients have leakage again just a few months after their surgery while others may never have a leak. Some patients will need a repair while others will need a whole new replacement. If a patient leaks soon after the surgery, this is called an “early failure.” How the doctor will fix this new leak will depend on what type of valve disease the person had to begin with. For example, mitral valve prolapse is almost always re-repairable. The doctor will examine you and do a workup to see if the time is right to do a re-operation. Mitral valves are living pieces of tissue, so the surgeon aims to preserve them whenever possible.

Re-operations have become safer in the last decade. You want to make sure you’re working with a heart valve surgeon who is experienced in re-operations. Re-repairs require extensive experience. It is a “super” specialty. Re-operations are challenging because after the first operation, the heart and tissues healed with scarring and tissues are stuck together, so the risks of injury to the heart and blood vessels when getting into the chest is higher. Also, scarring makes re-operating on the valves more challenging.

Re-repairs are done on:

  • Patients who had a previous heart operation unrelated to the heart valves, but now need heart valve surgery.
  • Patients who had a mitral valve repair who developed a new leak in the valve or the valve was unable to be fully corrected in the first operation.
  • Patients who had a valve replacement who now need a new valve replacement, because the previous valve is worn out, not working properly, or is infected.

If you’re looking for a cardiac surgeon to perform your heart valve surgery and discuss valve replacement or repair options, book a consult with Dr. Peter Mikhail who is based in New Port Richey, Florida. Dr. Mikhail is one of the foremost authorities and specialists in mitral valve surgery and he also performs mini-AVR and TAVR. To book a consultation, click here or call his office at 727-312-4844.


February is American Heart Month! This is a great time to commit to a heart-healthy lifestyle and make small changes that will lead you to living a longer, healthier life.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. African American men are at the highest risk for heart disease. In America, one woman dies from heart disease every 80 seconds. What can both men and women do to make a difference in their heart health?

  • Book an appointment with your doctor to talk about your heart health. See if your diet and exercise regimen should be changed. Let your doctor know of any heart problems in your family’s history or any strange symptoms you’ve had or currently have.
  • Add exercise into your daily routine. Start off with a 15-minute walk a few times a week. Gradually work your way up to 30 minutes a few times per week.
  • Eat heart-healthy foods: lean meats, vegetables, fruits, whole grains. Avoid sugary treats, high sodium foods and fried foods.
  • Quit smoking. Quitting smoking can drastically cut your risk for both heart disease and stroke.
  • Talk to your doctor about medications you may need to help your heart, including high blood pressure and cholesterol medicines.

During the month of February, the American Heart Association wants to remind Americans to focus on their hearts to encourage a culture of health where making healthy choices is easy. The first American Heart Month, which took place in February 1964, was proclaimed by President Lyndon B. Johnson via Proclamation 3566 on December 30, 1963. Back then, more than half of American deaths were caused by cardiovascular disease.

This disease, unfortunately, still claims the lives of 17.3 million people each year across the globe. Fortunately, 80 percent of cardiac events may be prevented with education and lifestyle changes.

February 2 is National Wear Red Day. The American Heart Association teams up with Support Go Red For Women to help support programs that generate awareness and research to discover knowledge about cardiovascular health. To donate, click here.

February 22 is the 2nd annual Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day. According to the Alliance for Aging Research, “The goal of the National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day is to increase recognition of the specific risks and symptoms of heart valve disease, improve detection and treatment, and ultimately save lives. While heart valve disease can be can be disabling and deadly, available treatments can save lives, making education and awareness particularly important.” To learn more, visit

Looking to take charge of your heart health? Don’t ignore the symptoms any longer and seek treatment.  If you suffer from heart disease, it’s time to talk to a heart valve surgeon about your options. Dr. Peter Mikhail is a heart valve surgeon who specializes in mitral valve surgery and TAVR. To book a consult, click here or call 727-312-4844. He is based in New Port Richey, Florida, and treats patients in the Tampa and Clearwater areas..



High blood pressure is not good for your body. Chronic high blood pressure can lead to serious health conditions, including hypertensive heart disease. Hypertensive heart disease is the number one cause of death associated with high blood pressure. It’s important to monitor your blood pressure to ensure it’s in a healthy range, so you don’t run the risk of developing left ventricular hypertrophy, ischemic heart disease, or heart failure.

Unfortunately, many people don’t even realize they’re living with high blood pressure. It is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it has no obvious symptoms. High blood pressure usually develops slowly over time; it cannot be cured, but it can be managed through lifestyle changes and medication.

Although most people don’t experience symptoms with high blood pressure, some people do have episodes of shortness of breath, dizziness, blurred vision, and headaches. However, there has been debate regarding whether or not high blood pressure and headaches actually are related. Overall, there doesn’t appear to be an association between headaches and high blood pressure. Sometimes, extremely high blood pressure can lead to a headache, but it’s not easy to determine if less extreme cases do.  Patients with headaches can develop high blood pressure due to the pain and stress of the headache, but in these cases the blood pressure usually returns to baseline levels after the headache goes away.

Pheochromocytomas, which are rare tumors, can cause headaches and high blood pressure. The headaches from this tumor are usually accompanied by palpitations, sweating and anxiety. These symptoms, and the high blood pressure, are due to the tumor producing hormones and biochemical substances.

Moderate (140s) and severe (160s) levels of high blood pressure are usually not associated with headaches, but a danger level (180s and above) can be.

There are several reasons why you can be experiencing headaches or high blood pressure, and you should not ignore any painful or worrisome symptoms. Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss and evaluate your symptoms.

If you suffer from heart valve disease and need surgery to correct a valve, it’s time to talk to a mitral heart valve surgeon about your options. Dr. Peter Mikhail is a heart valve surgeon who performs mitral valve surgery, TAVR and mini-AVR. To book a consult, click here or call 727-312-4844. He is based in New Port Richey, Florida, and treats patients in the Tampa and Clearwater areas.


It’s the New Year, which means there’s a lot of New Year’s Resolutions being made. One of best New Year’s Resolutions you can make for yourself is to get serious about your health. You don’t have to swear off all junk food or never drink coffee again, but now is a great time to make some lifestyle changes, so you can be heart healthy this year. Studies have shown that half of heart disease deaths are caused by modifiable risk factors that people can control. Since your health is in your hands, it’s time to take charge and help your heart stay strong in 2018.

In this article, we share with you some lifestyle habits to pick up that will help you live a healthier life.

  1. Keep your weight in check – Talk with your doctor about what the healthy or ideal weight range is for someone your height, age, and gender. Try to keep between 18-25 on the BMI (body mass index) scale. A high BMI correlates to excess body fat, which is associated with a higher risk of heart disease.
  2. Eat healthy – One way to keep your weight in check is to eat healthy. This doesn’t mean your diet should be “perfect,” but you should focus on nutritious food sources. Choose fruit, vegetables, lean meats, low/non-fat dairy products, nuts, whole grains, and keep the sugar, sodium, processed foods, and alcohol to a minimum.
  3. Exercise – Exercising is also another way to keep your weight in check. Aim for either 150 minutes of moderate intensity of exercise each week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity. The more you exercise, the more you reduce your chances of dying from heart disease.
  4. Sleep – Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep helps in lowering a person’s risk of heart disease.
  5. Quit smoking – Tobacco smoke is responsible for 30 percent of heart disease deaths in the United States each year.
  6. Monitor blood pressure – High blood pressure is the leading cause of death around the world and a risk factor of heart disease. Lower blood pressure leads people to live longer lives. Find out where your blood pressure should be numerically, and keep an eye on it, whether at home or with your doctor. If you need to be on blood pressure medication, take it!
  7. Drink plenty of water – Higher intakes of water have correlated with lower risk of heart disease.
  8. Get the influenza vaccine – This vaccine is encouraged for people with heart disease and heart failure; it is known to offer protection against atrial fibrillation.
  9. Stress less – Find ways to reduce stress. Heart disease is often associated with stressful life events.

If you suffer from heart disease, it’s time to talk to a heart valve surgeon about your options. Dr. Peter Mikhail is a heart valve surgeon who specializes in mitral valve surgery and TAVR. To book a consult, click here or call 727-312-4844. He is based in New Port Richey, Florida, and treats patients in the Tampa and Clearwater areas.


We all know that exercise and physical health go hand-in-hand. But did you know that exercising can help prevent heart disease and stroke, and even help individuals with some minor heart conditions?

The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise — or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise — to improve overall cardiovascular health. For individuals looking to lower their blood pressure or cholesterol levels, the organization recommends 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise three to four times per week.

Aerobic exercises include walking, jogging, swimming, or biking.

Your heart is a muscle, and it gets stronger and healthier if you lead an active lifestyle. The resting heart rate of a person who stays active is slower than a non-active person, because less effort is needed to keep blood pumping. People who don’t exercise are twice as likely to develop heart disease compared to those who stay active.

Exercise promotes weight maintenance and reduction, and can reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol levels in the blood. Those “bad” lipoproteins lead to plaque buildup in the arteries, which narrows vital pathways for blood flow and raises the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Some cardiologists recommend combining short bursts of high-intensity exercise with slightly longer periods of recovery, so that the body becomes more efficient at clearing fat and sugar from the blood. Weight training can also help with heart protection for healthy individuals.

It’s been shown that exercise decreases symptoms of angina and heart failure, and even overweight people who have trouble shedding pounds can still achieve heart benefits with routine physical activity.

Experts also agree that the worst kind of exercise for heart health is “overdoing it” with vigorous physical activity without prior training, such as shoveling snow. The excessive adrenaline that is released throughout the body can lead to a sudden heart attack.

For people with mild-to-moderate mitral valve regurgitation (MVR) without symptoms, regular activity – even if it’s walking – will help heart functions. Using a treadmill with a digital heart monitor is one of the easiest ways to work out while keeping tabs on your pulse.

It’s important to note that people with MVR who are experiencing irregular heart rhythms should be cautious about physical activity, avoid a high-intensity workout, and consult their doctors about what type of exercise is appropriate.

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 our Mitral Valve  contact page 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.


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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