Our team of cardiologists has expertise assessing and treating a broad range of heart and vascular conditions. Depending on your diagnosis, your cardiologist may refer you to one of our dedicated subspecialty teams that focuses on the area of need, such as arrhythmia, peripheral arterial disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack, pulmonary hypertension, coronary artery disease, or valvular heart disease. The ability to provide highly specialized, coordinated cardiovascular disease care within our practice sets us apart and improves the experience and outcomes of our patients.

We also believe in building a care team that involves patients, family members, and referring physicians. We aim for shared decision making in the treatment of your heart condition, and this starts with heart health education. Explore our conditions index below to learn about many of the conditions we treat.

Anatomy of the Heart

The heart is a muscular organ made up of four chambers: the right and left atria (upper chambers) and the right and left ventricles (lower chambers). The right and left sides of the heart are separated by a wall called the septum, and the heart is enveloped in a membrane called the pericardium.

Blood in the human body circulates — it flows in a circle. Oxygenated blood (blood carrying oxygen) leaves the lungs and passes into the left atrium, which acts as a sort of reservoir.  When the left ventricle is ready, the mitral valve opens and blood from the left atrium fills the left ventricle. The left heart then squeezes, the aortic valve opens, and the blood flows from the left ventricle into the aorta — which supplies blood to the body. After the body takes up oxygen from the blood, the blood flows via the veins into the right atrium, across the tricuspid valve, and into the right ventricle.  The right heart squeezes, and the blood flows across the pulmonic valve into the lungs to pick up more oxygen. It then flows back to the left side of the heart, thereby completing the “circle.”

The heart also has an electrical system to coordinate the pumping. The electrical system has two nodes which coordinate the electrical activity: The sinoatrial (SA) node, which is in the upper right side of the heart, is responsible for setting the pace of the heartbeat by making the atria contract. The atrioventricular (AV) node, which is in the lower right side of the heart, receives a slightly delayed electrical signal from the SA node, making the ventricles contract once they have filled with blood from the atria. When these nodes fail, a pacemaker is often needed.

Heart disease may occur due to problems with the heart’s valves, the electrical signals sent and processed by the heart’s nodes, blockages in the arteries, or diseases affecting the heart muscle itself. Cardiology Associates of Schenectady has specialists and subspecialists to address all of these concerns.

Precursors to Heart Disease

People with certain risk factors are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease or have a cardiac event. In these cases, prevention and early diagnosis are the keys to favorable outcomes and long term health.

(Please note that underlined links will allow you to view a video regarding that particular condition)

High Cholesterol and Triglycerides

Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides over time can lead to the development of heart disease or vascular disease. Cholesterol is a molecule found in your cell membranes that plays a role in many processes in the body. Cholesterol is carried through the blood by molecules called LDL and HDL (low density lipoprotein and high density lipoprotein). Triglycerides are fat molecules in the blood. Our cardiologists may order a blood test to measure the triglycerides in your bloodstream as well as the amount of cholesterol carried by LDL molecules and HDL molecules. HDL is your “good cholesterol” and having high HDL is generally healthy. On the other hand, high levels of LDL and/or triglycerides can lead to plaque formation in the arteries and ultimately a heart attack or stroke. Treatment for high LDL cholesterol or triglycerides involves lifestyle changes and sometimes medication.


Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a very common type of cardiovascular disease. Approximately one in three U.S. adults have high blood pressure. Unfortunately, only about half of these people have their high blood pressure under control. When your blood pressure is taken using a blood pressure cuff, the result is given as two numbers: systolic blood pressure (the “top number”) and diastolic blood pressure (the “bottom number”). Many people do not realize that a normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. A value of more than 130/80 is considered high blood pressure and can be damaging to the heart and blood vessels — leading to heart failure, heart attack, stroke, dementia, and other cardiac complications. The main treatments for hypertension are lifestyle changes and medication.

Chest Pain and Angina

Chest pain may be caused by the heart, lungs, muscle, bone, or digestive issues. Angina is a specific type of chest pain that is caused by insufficient blood supply to the heart, usually due to plaque buildup in the coronary arteries (coronary artery disease). Angina is a symptom that can sometimes be episodic (angina pectoris) or sometimes be a precursor to a heart attack (unstable angina). Angina can be treated with medications, angioplasty, stents, and/or cardiac surgery. New chest pain is an emergency requiring urgent medical attention.

Arterial disease

Age, diet, and lifestyle can all play a role in the arteries becoming blocked with a buildup called plaque. This is called atherosclerosis. When plaque involves the heart arteries, we call this coronary artery disease.

(Please note that underlined links will allow you to view a video regarding that particular condition)


Atherosclerosis is plaque buildup in the arteries, which carry blood from the heart to other organs in the body. When arteries become damaged, fats and cholesterol can build up and cause them to harden, restricting blood traveling to the organs. Blocked arteries can lead to chest pain (angina), heart attack, and stroke. Arterial blockages can affect almost any part of the body. Plaque buildup in the leg arteries can lead to pain while walking, while plaque buildup in the gut arteries can lead to pain after eating and weight loss. Treatment usually involves lifestyle changes, medication, and sometimes invasive procedures. If there is a dangerous amount of plaque buildup, catheterization and stent placement or bypass surgery may be needed. We assess and treat all of these related conditions.

Coronary Artery Disease and Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary artery disease is when blood flow to the heart begins to become blocked due to atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup in the arteries. Coronary heart disease may be treated with a combination of lifestyle changes, medication, and sometimes by opening the blockages with angioplasty, stent placement, and/or coronary bypass surgery.

Heart Attack

A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction (MI), is when an artery that supplies blood to the heart becomes blocked, generally by plaque. A heart attack can be fatal and it is a medical emergency. Heart attacks can be treated urgently with medications that dissolve the clot as well as catheterization and stent placement. Sometimes, coronary artery bypass surgery may be needed if there are many blockages or if the blockages are in difficult locations.


An arrhythmia is a problem with the heart’s rhythm, or when the heartbeat is too fast, too slow, or disordered. There are several different kinds of arrhythmia.


Bradycardia is when the heart beats too slowly. This condition can be caused by problems with the heart’s electrical impulses, diseases of the sinoatrial node, damage to the heart muscle, or as a side effect of a medication. Some types of bradycardia do not require treatment, but in many cases, a pacemaker is recommended.


Tachycardia is when the heart beats too fast. Atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, supraventricular tachycardia, ventricular tachycardia, and ventricular fibrillation are all types of tachycardia.

Supraventricular Tachycardia

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is an arrhythmia that originates in the top part of the heart, usually in the atria (above the ventricular chambers). SVT may be treated with vagal maneuvers (valsalva) during episodes, medication, cardioversion, or sometimes catheter ablation. Learn more about cardioversion and ablation.

Atrial Fibrillation and Atrial Flutter

Atrial fibrillation (afib) and atrial flutter are arrhythmias in which the atria (the heart’s upper chambers) beat in a disordered way, out of synchrony with the ventricles (the heart’s lower chambers). This can cause an irregular, fast heartbeat and can sometimes lead to stroke. Treatment may include anticoagulant medication, medications to slow the heart rate, and/or anti-arrhythmic medications. In some cases, a minimally invasive cardiac procedure like catheter ablation or AV node ablation may be recommended. The patient video section contains several videos with more information on the treatment options for atrial fibrillation.

Long QT Syndrome

Long QT syndrome is a problem with how the heart’s electrical system recharges after sending an electrical signal that generates a heartbeat. Long QT can cause a fast or irregular heartbeat that results in arrhythmia and sometimes even sudden death. This condition can cause apparent fainting or seizures. Once it is diagnosed, long QT syndrome is usually treated with medication, and sometimes with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD device).

Valvular Heart Disease

The heart has four valves that control blood flow between the heart’s chambers, the heart and the lungs, and the heart and the rest of the body. Valvular heart disease is when one of these valves becomes damaged and either does not open well or does not close well, causing blood to leak (sometimes referred to as regurgitation, and often detected as a heart murmur). Depending on the specific problem, valvular heart disease may be treated with medication, balloon dilation, valve replacement, or cardiac surgery. We offer the latest minimally invasive options to address both leaky and blocked valves.

(Please note that underlined links will allow you to view a video regarding that particular condition)

Aortic Stenosis

Aortic stenosis is a kind of valvular heart disease in which the opening of the aortic valve becomes smaller, restricting the flow of blood from the heart into the aorta and out to the rest of the body. This valvular heart disease is usually caused by damage to the valve over time, but can sometimes be congenital. A blocked aortic valve can lead to angina, heart failure, and passing out (syncope). To treat aortic stenosis, valve replacement may be recommended. Our specialists can replace an aortic valve with open heart surgery or using the most modern, catheter-based minimally invasive methods. We work with the patient to determine the optimal approach.

Heart Muscle Conditions

Some conditions of the heart are specifically related to the ability of the heart muscle itself to pump blood.

(Please note that underlined links will allow you to view a video regarding that particular condition)

Cardiomyopathy and Heart Failure

Heart failure means the heart cannot effectively pump blood to the body. In some cases, it means that, while the squeezing function is intact, the heart is unable to relax and refill adequately after each pumping cycle. Cardiomyopathy generally means that the squeezing and pumping function of the heart is compromised. Treatment of heart failure and cardiomyopathy involves identifying the underlying cause of the cardiomyopathy. Common causes of cardiomyopathy include coronary artery disease, poorly controlled hypertension, and excess alcohol intake Medications, lifestyle changes, and sometimes a pacemaker or an implanted cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) are needed in the treatment of heart failure. In other cases treatment consists of opening blocked coronary arteries. In rare cases when a heart transplant becomes necessary, we work closely with a heart transplant referral center.

Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease, or a congenital heart defect, is when malformations in the heart, the heart valves, or the blood vessels occur before birth. For example, a heart valve may not develop normally and may be blocked or leaky as a result (in which case we might detect a heart murmur). Similarly, the septum (the wall between the two sides of the heart) may sometimes not develop normally. These conditions can have a variety of manifestations and many lead to heart failure. While some congenital heart disease only requires observation, in other cases, a congenital heart defect may need to be treated with catheterization or surgery.

(Please note that underlined links will allow you to view a video regarding that particular condition)

Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome

Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW) is a congenital heart disease arrhythmia that occurs because of an extra electrical signalling path between the upper and lower chambers of the heart that is present at birth. Although WPW doesn’t always require intervention, some cases need to be treated with medication, cardioversion, or ablation.

Other Heart Conditions


The heart is enveloped in a membrane called the pericardium. Pericarditis occurs when the pericardium becomes inflamed. The condition is usually not chronic and improves on its own or with medication. Rarely, pericarditis can cause fluid buildup around the heart, requiring catheter drainage or surgery.

(Please note that underlined links will allow you to view a video regarding that particular condition)

Peripheral Vascular Disease

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD), also called peripheral arterial disease (PAD), is a type of vascular disease that involves blockages in blood vessels outside the heart. PVD most often occurs in the neck and legs, and it is most commonly caused by atherosclerosis. Treatment may include lifestyle changes, medication, and in some cases angioplasty, stent placement, and/or vascular surgery.

Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in the arteries in the lungs. As a result, the right ventricle — the chamber of the heart that is responsible for pumping blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen — has to work harder and can fail. Pulmonary hypertension can have a number of different causes, and treatment depends on the specific diagnosis and focuses on managing the condition. Pulmonary hypertension is often diagnosed with a pulmonary artery catheterization. Christopher Dibble, MD is the pulmonary hypertension specialist at Cardiology Associates of Schenectady.

Syncope & Vasovagal Episodes

Syncope is fainting because the brain isn’t receiving enough blood, usually due to low blood pressure or an arrhythmia. Vasovagal syncope is when blood pressure drops because of a strong reaction to a physical or emotional trigger, causing fainting. It is important to determine why syncope episodes occur, as they can sometimes be caused by a dangerous underlying heart condition, such as arrhythmia.

Women’s Heart Disease

Women sometimes have less common symptoms of heart disease, making it more difficult to detect. We put a strong emphasis on prevention and awareness with female patients.