North Coast Cardiology, Inc. Katherine Ludington, MD, FACC
   4401 Manchester Avenue, Suite 106, Encinitas, CA 92024. Telephone (760) 753-0220. Fax (760) 753-2639.
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There are many types of "heart disease" not just heart attacks. Here is a brief introduction to some common illnesses that affect the heart and how modern day technology can help diagnose them quickly and treat them effectively.


Palpitations is the term used to describe the rhythm of the heart -- how regularly it beats. Some people feel that their heart beats very "hard" or fast, while others describe a feeling of "skipped beats" or the heart stopping briefly. Worrisome symptoms of passing out (syncope) or almost passing out (pre-syncope) may accompany palpitations as well. Monitors such as a 24 hour "Holter" monitor help identify the heart's rhythm during normal daily activities, during exercise, or during sleep. But some people don't feel these palpitations every day. "Event" monitors can be worn for up to 30 days, and allow one to push a button to record an EKG when the palpitations or other symptoms occur. It's a excellent way to diagnose a problem that may be intermittent.


Syncope is a term used to describe passing out, or loss of consciousness. Pre-syncope is when one almost passes out, often described as the feeling of "blood draining out of the head." Dizziness, syncope and near-syncope may signal nothing more than dehydration on a warm day. Or, they may mean that something more serious is happening -- such as a blockage in the carotid arteries (the arteries in the neck leading to the brain). Sometimes the cause of these symptoms is quite a challenge to identify by doctors. But modern tests such as EKG monitors (see above) or ultrasound studies of the heart and circulation can help exclude the most dangerous causes.


Many people say they don't have chest "pain" but pressure or heaviness, often with strenuous activity. Others experience pain after meals or wake up at night feeling pain in the chest. Shortness of breath with or without chest pain is also a worrisome symptom. The most concerning cause of chest pain is a blockage in one of the three coronary arteries, which supply the blood and oxygen to the heart muscle. A complete blockage of one of the arteries results in a heart attack and permanent, irreversible damage to the heart. This is why prevention and early diagnosis with simple tests is a key part of heart health!

What is your risk of a heart attack? Take the American Heart Association quiz here.


Women unfortunately often do NOT experience the typical symptoms of heart disease. Commonly, women have unusual symptoms including shortness of breath without chest pain, weakness, tiredness, jaw pain, tooth pain or arm pain or even dizziness. It is critical that physicians recognize these symptoms early to prevent heart attacks and other serious heart conditions from occurring. Treatment for women is not always the same as treatment for men. A physician familiar with all of the options in women's heart health can help explain the important differences. See our new program "Woman at Heart" for more information about services tailored specifially to women.


Problems of the circulation often go undiagnosed for years. Strokes are frequently caused by blockages in the carotid arteries, which are the main arteries in the neck that take blood to the brain. Identifying these blockages is critical. Unfortunately, people often don't exerience any symtoms until it's too late. Likewise, circulatory problems in the legs can be equally dangerous. Pain in the legs when walking is a sign that there may be a circulation problem in the legs. It is important to note that a problem in one part of the circulation can be a signal that other body parts are affected too. For example, when someone has plaque in the carotid arteries, there is usually plaque in the heart's coronary arteries too. Therefore, a comprehensive plan for diagnosis and treatment needs to be made before permanent damage occurs.


An irregularity of heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation is especially important to treat. In this condition, the heart beats in a "chaotic" way and blood can clot inside the heart. These little clots can dislodge and cause a stroke. Atrial fibrillation is quite common in the population, especially in men and women over the age of 70. Some people require a blood thinner to avoid strokes. Others may keep atrial fibriallation away with medicines or a procedure called "ablation." It is very important to see your cardiologist regularly to monitor this condition.







Our office is proud to offer a brand new program, called "PLAQUE DETECT." This painless, noninvasive 30 minute test uses state of the art ultrasound to diagnose blockages in the carotid arteries, which can lead to stroke. The abdominal aorta and the circulation to the legs is also thoroughly evaluated. Finally, the function of the heart is analyzed, something that no other screening program offers.

OUR OFFICE WINS 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, AND 2017 BEST OF ENCINITAS AWARD

The US Local Business Association awarded North Coast Cardiology the Best of Encinitas award again this year. This is our fourt year in a row! Congratulations to our team for earning this honor.

Dr. Ludington's expertise in hypertension and hypercholesterolemia treatment combines a thorough risk assessment with lifestyle changes and modern drug therapy, as needed.