St. Alexius Heart & Lung Clinic

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Below are some of the common disease management for Heart, Lung and Allergy provided by the physicians at the St. Alexius Heart & Lung Clinic.


Cardiology - Heart

Abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia)
An abnormal heart beat occurs when the heart has an irregular rhythm, beats too fast, or beats too slow. Many arrhythmias are minor, but some can be life threatening.

Angina is a type of chest pain that occurs when there is not enough blood flow to the heart, often as a result of narrowed blood vessels. Angina pain is often described as tightness or squeezing in the chest and a heaviness on the chest.

Aortic Aneurysm
An aortic aneurysm is a bulge in a section of the aorta, the body's main artery, that may cause the aorta to burst and can lead to death. High blood pressure and atherosclerosis can be the cause. Heredity is a factor in some cases.

Aortic Valve Stenosis
Aortic valve stenosis refers to the narrowing of the aortic valve. The heart has to work extra hard to pump blood through the smaller valve and eventually gets worn out, possibly leading to heart failure.

Atrial fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is a type of irregular heartbeats. In some people it increases the risk of blood clots, which can cause transient ischemic attack (TIA), stroke or other problems.

Atherosclerosis is hardening of the arteries. This occurs when cholesterol and calcium build up in the inner lining of the arteries, forming plaque. The buildup damages the artery and impairs the flow of blood.

Cardiac Rehabilitation
In recovery from a heart illness, cardiac rehabilitation teaches you how to be more active and make lifestyle changes to strengthen your heart and become healthier, while reducing your risk for future heart problems.

Cardiomyopathy is a group of diseases that affect the efficiency of the heart muscle's pumping ability. It can occur as a result of a heart attack, or a number of other causes including virus and heredity.

Carotid tamponade
Cardiac tamponade is caused by too much fluid in the space between the heart and the sac (pericardium) that surrounds it. This can put pressure on the heart, which means it can't expand properly with normal amounts of blood.

Chest Pain
Chest pain is the key warning sign of a heart attack. The pain may feel like a crushing or squeezing or like a heavy weight is on your chest.

Chest wall pain
Chest wall pain is pain in the bones, cartilage, or muscles that make up the chest wall. The pain is usually different than that of chest pain of a heart attack.

Congenital heart defects
Congenital heart defects are abnormalities of the heart that are present at birth. They can increase the risk for developing heart failure, endocarditis, atrial fibrillation and heart valve problems.

Coronary artery disease
Coronary artery disease is usually the result of the buildup of atherosclerotic plaque on the inside of the coronary arteries. The plaque decreases the space through which blood can flow and can result in a heart attack if left untreated.

Endocarditis is an infection of a heart valve caused by bacteria or fungi. If not treated, it can cause stroke, heart failure, kidney failure, or death.

Heart attack
A heart attack occurs when an area of the heart muscle is completely deprived of blood. It may result from plaque and/or blood clot inside the arteries that blocks the blood flow. Chest pain or discomfort usually occurs and you should seek immediate medical care.

Heart failure
Heart failure occurs when the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) are not able to pump blood effectively. The heart can be damaged by long-term high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart valve problems or other conditions that can affect the heart.

Heart valve disease
Heart valve disease occurs when a heart valve becomes leaky or narrowed and does not allow normal blood flow. Over time, a damaged heart valve can lead to enlargement of the heart, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation.

High blood pressure (hypertension)
High blood pressure is when the force of blood against the artery walls is too strong. This can damage the arteries, heart and kidneys and can lead to heart attack, heart failure and stroke.

High cholesterol
High cholesterol increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke and is caused by eating food that is high in cholesterol and saturated fat. Heredity often contributes.

Hypertensive crisis
Hypertensive crisis is a state in which blood pressure becomes so high that it causes immediate danger and needs to be reduced immediately.

Mitral valve prolapse (MVP)
MVP is one of the conditions in which the mitral valve between the left upper chamber and the left lower chamber of the heart does not function correctly.

Mitral valve regurgitation
Mitral valve regurgitation refers to the leaking or backflow of blood through the valve between the left upper chamber and the left lower chamber of the heart.

Mitral valve stenosis
Mitral valve stenosis is a condition of the heart in which the mitral valve- which regulates blood on the left side of the heart- does not open as wide as it should.

Heart palpitations are the sensation of an unusual or abnormal heart beat. Causes can range from stress, fatigue, or overuse of alcohol or other stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine.

Pericarditis is inflammation of the pericardium, or the sac that surrounds the heart. It usually improves without causing any damage to the heart, however, excess fluid can build up rapidly and cause the heart to fail.

Peripheral arterial disease
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a condition that results from the narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the legs, abdomen, pelvis, arms and neck, most commonly the result of plaque buildup from atherosclerosis.

Stable angina
Angina is type of chest pain that occurs when there is not enough blood flow to the heart, and is the result of narrowing of the blood vessels. Stable angina occurs at fairly predictable times, usually with activity and can be relieved by rest.

A stroke occurs when a disruption in the blood flow to the brain caused by a blocked or bleeding blood vessel. Symptoms may include numbness, weakness, lack of movement, confusion and trouble seeing, dizziness or sudden, severe headache. Emergency medical attention is needed.

Sudden Heart Failure
Sudden heart failure occurs when the heart stops pumping the blood properly needed causing rapid fluid build-up and congestion in the lungs. Emergency medical attention is needed.

Unstable angina
Unstable angina is chest pain that occurs at rest, and may become severe or even result in a heart attack.

White-coat hypertension
White-coat hypertension is blood pressure that rises above its usual level measured in a clinic setting. It tends to decrease with repeat measurements.


Pulmonology - Lung

Asthma is a chronic disease of the respiratory system that causes inflammation and tightening of the bronchial tubes. This causes episodes of difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness and coughing.

Black lung disease
Black lung disease is any lung disease developed by inhaling coal dust. The lungs look black instead of the normal pink color.

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes. It may be hard for air to pass in and out of the lungs and more mucus is produced. A cough is the most common symptom of bronchitis.

Chronic bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis is an inflammation in the bronchial tubes which causes a cough and brings up mucus.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
COPD is a group of irreversible diseases that make it difficult to breathe. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are two diseases that cause COPD.

Cystic fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects the lungs. Mucus in the lungs gets trapped and causes repeated infections.

Emphysema is a chronic, irreversible lung disease that occurs when tiny air sacs and blood vessels in the lungs are damaged, usually as a result of long-term smoking.

Lung cancer
Lung cancers occurs when cells start to grow rapidly and in an uncontrolled manner in the lungs, usually as a result of tobacco smoke.

Pneumoconiosis is an accumulation of dust in the lung causing shortness of breath and coughing.

Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs caused by infection with bacteria.

Pneumothorax (collapsed lung)
Collapsed lung is a buildup of air in the space between the lung and the chest wall. Therefore the lung cannot expand properly when a person tries to breathe.

Pulmonary edema
Pulmonary edema is the buildup of fluid in the lungs, resulting from the heart's inability to pump blood through the body effectively. It may be caused by heart or kidney failure, poisoning, widespread infection or near-drowning.

Pulmonary embolism
Pulmonary embolism is a sudden blockage of blood flow in an artery in the lung cause by a blood clot, tumor, amniotic fluid or fat in the artery.

Pulmonary fibrosis
Pulmonary fibrosis occurs by an infection or injury, or by breathing certain material, such as asbestos. This can lead to difficulty breathing.

Sarcoidosis causes inflammation and scar tissue throughout the body, especially the lungs, lymph nodes, liver, skin and eyes.

Sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is when an adult regularly stops breathing or has slowed breathing during sleep.


An allergy refers to an over-reaction by the immune system in response to contact with a foreign substance. This foreign substance, or allergen, is usually seen by the body as harmless. Some examples of allergens include pollens, dust mite, molds, danders and foods. When the allergen comes into contact with the body, the immune system develops an allergic reaction in some people.

Certain parts of the body are more prone to react to allergies including the eyes, nose, lungs, skin and stomach. The Allergy Clinic at St. Alexius can test and treat many types of allergies including allergies to animals, food, insect stings, medicine, latex and seasonal allergies.