Archive For October, 2012
Congestive heart failure may sound frightening, but it can be cured with the help of advance medicines and treatment if diagnosed within few hours after the symptoms. In this medical emergency, the heart becomes unable to pump oxygen rich blood throughout the body. There are certain reasons or other medical conditions which tend to develop cardiac failure in a person:
- Disorders that cause heart muscle stiffening.
- Disorders that damage the heart muscle and weaken them.
- Diseases or disorders that increase the demand of oxygen by the body cells beyond the capacity of the heart.
Our heart is divided into two chambers: the upper chamber and the lower chamber. The upper chamber has two atria (left atrium and right atrium) and the lower chamber has two ventricles (right ventricle and left ventricle). The ventricles or muscular chambers pump blood when the muscles of the heart constrict. The process of ventricle muscle contraction is called systole.
Several medical conditions can damage and weaken the muscles of the ventricle and make them unable to pump adequate amount of blood. This disease can be infection (myocarditis), heart attack, toxins(some chemotherapy drugs, alcohol), etc. The inability of the ventricles to pump blood due to the weakening of muscle is called systolic dysfunction. After every systole (ventricular contraction), the muscle of the ventricle needs to relax, which allows the blood to get filled in the ventricles from the atria. This relaxation of the ventricle is referred as diastole.
Disorders such as amyloidosis or hemochromatosis (overload of iron) can stiffen the cardiac muscle and harm the capacity of ventricles to relax and fill; this is called diastolic dysfunction. The prime cause of this condition is longstanding hypertension or high blood pressure that thickens the heart (hypertrophied). In some patients, the pumping and filling capability of the cardiac system is normal, but the abnormally high demand of oxygen by the body tissues (sometimes due to anemia or hyperthyroidism) may trouble the heart in supplying adequate amount of blood, which ultimately results into high output heart failure. In few patients, more than one factor may cause congestive heart failure.
Few Facts about Congestive Heart Failure
This disorder develops when the heart fails to pump enough blood throughout the body. As an outcome, the body organs are deprived of oxygen and nutrient rich blood. Although the term “ heart failure” may sound frightening, it does not mean that the heart literally stops beating or working completely. But it does not work in an efficient manner.
In North America, more than 6 million people get affected by CHF. It is the prime cause for the hospitalization of people above 65 years old. Each congestive heart failure is associated with around 300,000 deaths.
As per studies, men get more prone to this medical condition as compared to women. It is observed that Africans have comparatively more chances of CHF than Europeans; their death rate is also high.
CHF have two basic problems:
Systolic Dysfunction: This occurs when the heart is unable to pump and supply enough blood to various body parts as per their requirement.
Diastolic Dysfunction: This occurs when the heart is not able to accept all the blood being supplied to it.
Several people undergo both diastolic and systolic heart failure.
Effects of Congestive Heart Failure on Various Body Organs
Cardiac heart failure may affect several body organs. For example:
- The lungs may get filled or congested with fluid causing pulmonary edema, which may decrease a person’s ability to workout.
- The intestine may become less efficient or weaken in absorbing the medicines and nutrients.
- The impaired cardiac muscles become unable or fail to supply the required amount of blood to the kidneys. This may cause the inability of the kidney to excrete water and salt (sodium). This disturbed functioning of the kidney may cause the body to build up fluid.
- This fluid may compile in the liver, thereby damaging its potential to eliminate the toxins from the body and develop essential proteins.
- Fluid may also accumulate in the external body parts, resulting in swelling (edema) of the feet and ankle.
Eventually, unnoticed, untreated and worsening cardiac failure will impair each of the body organs.
Several health problems may cause cardiac failure:
- Unrelenting high blood pressure develops force in the arteries which pressurizes the heart to pump more blood, which as a result weakens with time. Patients with uncontrolled blood pressure are at greater risk of developing CCF.
- Coronary artery disease is a medical emergency that narrows the arteries and interrupts the passage of blood flow towards the heart. This may as a result weaken and impair the various cardiac sections.
- Cardiac arrest impairs the muscles of the heart. The heart attack victims have greater possibilities of developing heart failure.
- Arrhythmias or abnormal heart beats may disturb the pumping action of the heart.
- Diabetes increases the risk of CHF.
- Heart valve may get damaged due to infection or rheumatic disease.
- Heart valve disease may develop due to the abnormalities present in a person since birth, or it may also develop over time.
- The heart chambers are divided by a wall and an enlargement in this wall may also be a cause. Enlarged wall can be a genetic condition.
- If the heart muscle develops a viral infection, it may weaken the heart causing cardiac failure.
- Certain problems of the kidney that elevate blood pressure and build up fluid can raise the chances of CCF by developing extra stress on the heart.
Additionally, all the risk factors that are responsible for increasing the chances of heart disease such as obesity, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, also elevate one’s chances of congestive cardiac failure.
Complications and Symptoms of Heart Failure
- It develops new muscle tissue which helps to pump harder.
- It dilates or enlarges to form a huge pump.
- It beats with faster rate.
When the heart compensates, a number of changes take place which ultimately develop symptoms. The heart fails to pump adequate amount of blood through the body, which results into the accumulation of fluid in the lungs and legs due to the back up of blood. This develops remarkable swelling on the legs and ankles and shortness of breath.
The most common warning signs may include:
- Wheezing and coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Weakness and fatigue
- Swollen ankles
- Breathing problem during the night or while lying down
Other symptoms may include:
- Fluid accumulation in the abdomen
- Urination at night
- Bluish skin around the mouth
- Cold feet or hands and pale skin
- Bloating, loss of appetite or abdominal pain
Causes and symptoms of congestive heart failure can be treated by prompt medical treatment, required changes in diet and intake of prescribed medicines on a regular basis.
Almost 6 million people in America are prone to cardiac failure. It is one of the leading cause for people above 65 years of age to get hospitalized. Cardiac failure is a chronic condition which develops gradually over the time. After diagnosis, the treatment option to be opted depends on the congestive heart failure stages and prognosis.
Cardiac failure or heart failure does not indicate that the cardiac system has stopped working completely; however, it refers to the condition in which the heat muscles get damaged or weakened due to certain reason and become unable to pump enough blood to the body parts. Due to this medical condition, blood flow through the heart and body slows down, thus increasing the pressure in the cardiac system. As a result, the body is deprived of the essential nutrients and oxygen. The heart chambers may respond and stretch a little or get thickened or stiffed to hold more blood for supplying to other body parts; however, this may eventually weaken the heart muscles and make them disable to pump efficiently. In this condition, the kidneys may start responding by retaining salt and fluid (water) into the body. If the fluid accumulates into the ankles, legs, arms, lungs, feet or other organs, a person may start feeling congested and this condition is defined as congestive heart failure. Once the heart failure is diagnosed, its evaluation becomes crucial. Doctors may ask the patient for the accurate and complete history of the symptoms.
Although this medical emergency is chronic (long-term condition), it may sometimes develop all of a sudden and may become a core reason for various heart problems. Cardiac failure may affect only the left or right side of the cardiac system. These are called left sided or right sided heart failure. In most cases, both sides of the cardiac system are involved.
Conditions during Heart Failure
- Heart muscles are not able to pump enough blood to fulfill the requirement of the body. This condition is referred as systolic heart failure.
- Heart muscles get stiffed and hence it becomes difficult for them to fill up with blood. This condition is refered to as diastolic heart failure.
Any of these conditions make the heart unable to pump the essential amount of oxygenated blood to the body organs. As the pumping capacity of the heart weakens, blood may start backing up into other body parts and the parts such as the arms, gastrointestinal tract, legs, liver and lungs get filled with fluid.
Usually, patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) have greater chances of developing failure in the functioning of the heart. CAD is a condition which refers to narrowing of the arteries or small blood vessels that are responsible for supplying oxygen rich blood to the cardiac system. If high blood pressure is not controlled appropriately, it may also lead to cardiac failure.
Other major causes may be:
- Heart attack or myocardial infarction
- Certain type of infection that impairs the heart muscle
- Congenital heart disease
- Arrhythmias or irregular/abnormal heart beat
- Heart valve disorder (this may occur in valves that are narrowed or leaky)
Congestive Heart Failure Stages
The American Heart Association has categorized this medical emergency into stages by considering the progression of cardiac failure.
Stage A : At this stage, the patient is at high risk of developing this condition.
Stage B: This stage involves a condition in which the left ventricle of the heart is dysfunctional or enlarged due to certain reason, but the patient does not show any symptoms (asymptomatic).
Stage C: Patients may start experiencing inability to workout, severe fatigue, shortness of breath, etc. This is called symptomatic cardiac failure.
Stage D: This can be considered as the last stage. Patients may undergo the symptoms in spite of rest and medical treatment. Mechanical devices, cardiac transplantation, end-of-life care or more aggressive medical treatment may be required.
The patients can be classified on the basis of their physical restrictions.
Class I: No symptoms while performing routine activities, no restrictions of physical activity or workout.
Class II: Symptoms may develop while performing certain routine activities, slight restrictions.
Class III: Symptoms may develop even with less physical activities, marked restrictions.
Class IV: A person may undergo symptoms even while resting, severe restrictions.
Symptoms and Signs
In some cases, patient with heart failure may not experience any problem. Early signs of heart failure may include cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty in taking a deep breath, mostly when lying down. If the patient has usual breathing problems such as emphysema, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), or asthma, they should get a clue that they are undergoing an attack or certain heart worsening condition.
Shortness of Breath: A person with congestive cardiac failure may experience dyspne (difficulty in breathing), particularly while being active. Ordinary activities for example, walking, sweeping, doing routine tasks, etc., may be impossible or problematic. Shortness of breath can be relieved by taking rest. When the fluid gets filled into the lungs and starts interfering with the oxygen during blood oxygenation, the patient may experience orthopnea and dysnea. As the fluid deposits in the lungs become very critical, a foamy pink liquid may come out with cough.
Workout Intolerance: It means that a person becomes unable to tolerate physical exertion and sometimes routine activities that he or she may have been performing without any difficulty. The body requires nutrients and oxygen for performing any physical activity and an impaired heart is not able to fulfill the requirements of the body. The ability to workout or even perform some activity at a normal pace may get restricted due to severe fatigue and difficulty in breathing.
Swelling and Fluid Retention: Edema (puffy swelling) in the ankles, feet and legs may occur, especially after prolonged sitting or end of the day after office. Usually, the swelling is more evident on the lower leg or in the ankles at the front, where the tibia (bone in the leg) is near to the skin. Some patients may undergo severe swelling which may spread up till the abdominal wall, scrotum, hips and ultimately, the ascites (abdominal cavity). Patients should keep the track of his/her body weight on a regular basis, as the retention of fluid is often reflected by the increasing difficulty in breathing and amount of weight gain. Heart failure patients should know their dry weight (weight when they do not have pitting edema).
Pitting edema is a condition in which if the puffy area is pressed with finger, it will make an visible indentation for few minutes. This condition is not synonymous with cardiac failure; it may develop due to some other reasons such as kidney or liver failure. Generally, no pitting edema is caused due to heart failure.
Cardiac failure is a serious health problem that usually develops with age. Today, several victims are surviving with various heart diseases and are living a normal life. Some of them are unaware that they are developing a condition like heart failure. Recently, more effective therapies and medications have been evolved that enhance the outlook of this medical condition.
Medications and drugs are the protagonist of therapy with congestive cardiac failure.
- Implantable defibrillators and pacemakers have been modified. They are helpful in controlling the less common, but life-threatening disruption in the heartbeats.
- Novel and sophisticated treatments have proved beneficial for the patients to improve their quality of life and help them to live longer. New clinical trials and therapies are performed on patients under strict scientific and ethical monitoring.
- Certain sophisticated treatments such as use of LVADs, new form of temporary mechanical heart and heart transplants have been proved beneficial for many patients.
Understanding the congestive heart failure stages and prognosis in early days can help the patients to enhance their scope of survival for a long term. The therapies and medications show better result when used in early stages of heart failure.
Congestive heart failure indicates that the power of the heart to pump blood throughout the body reduces drastically than normal and a person starts developing its symptoms. After observing any of the symptoms, the patient should immediately consult a doctor for further diagnosis, confirmation and treatment. During diagnosis, the doctor will carry out certain medical and physical examinations along with considering the risk factors and medical history of the patient. When treating this medical condition, the goals are to improve symptoms, treat the core causes of heart failure and increase the chances of prolonging the life of the patient. Certain changes in lifestyle (such as exercising, changing eating habits and quitting smoking) and medications (such as diuretics and beta-blockers) are initial forms of treatment. For patients with severe cardiac failure, cardiologists may suggest heart transplant or mechanical heart pump.
Congestive heart failure treatment proves significantly helpful to improve the symptoms and aid the weakened cardiac function as effectively as possible. Heart failure specialists treat some patients by correcting the inexplicit cause of their condition, for example, by controlling the fast or abnormal heart beats, repairing or opening clogged arteries or replacing diseased valves. Cardiologists also treat other medical conditions that may contribute in aggravating the underlying cardiac problems such as anemia, thyroid problems, sleep apnea and other blood related abnormalities.
Few health care centers have doctors or cardiologists that are well equipped with advanced training in cardiac failure to treat the congestive heart failure patients. They have vast experience in all types of surgery for treating various heart related diseases. Surgeons often perform heart transplants, implant ventricular assist devices and minimally invasive cardiac surgery.
Doctors have Certain Goals for Treating Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
While most victims with heart failure cannot be cured, changes in lifestyle and diet, medications and specialized treatment and care for those in advanced stages can often help to relieve symptoms and drastically enhance the quality of their lives. Specialized treatments can also prolong the life of a person by soothing the worsened condition to some extent. Since the causes of CHF vary for each person, the treatment options opted by the cardiologists may also differ.
The goals of CHF treatment are to:
- Improve the symptoms of a patient along with the quality of life
- Treat the core causes of heart failure
- Prolong the life of the victim
- Eliminate the causes and stop the condition from getting worse.
The doctor may also continue to treat other conditions or diseases that causes CHF (such as diabetes, high blood pressure or coronary artery disease).
What are the Options for Congestive Heart Failure Treatment?
Treatments for congestive cardiac failure may include medical devices, surgery, lifestyle changes and medications.
Biventricular Cardiac Heart Pacemaker: This can also be called cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) device. It sends electrical impulses to the lower chambers of the heart in a specific time. This device is used to treat the patients whose heart’s electrical conduction is abnormal or irregular and who have moderate to intense cardiac failure.
Ventricular Assist Device (VAD): This device is used for the patients whose weakened heart needs assistance in pumping blood. Surgeons implant VAD into the abdomen of the patient and connect it to the cardiac system. This can also be called mechanical cardiac pump that can be used as a bridge to cardiac transplant or as a permanent solution for patients who cannot undergo transplantation. VAD is suitable for most patients who are not left with any other treatment options.
Internal Cardiac Defibrillator (ICD): Surgeons implant internal cardiac defibrillator under the skin to monitor the abnormal or fast rhythms (arrhythmias) in patients undergoing heart failure. This device sends electrical signals to the cardiac system; if it detects abnormal or high rhythm, it will transform the beats into slow and more effective pumping.
Heart Transplant: Some patients with completely damaged cardiac system have to choose this treatment option.
Coronary Bypass Surgery: According to the diagnosis, if severly narrowed coronary arteries are found to be the reason for heart failure, most heart specialist may suggest coronary bypass surgery.
Heart Valve Replacement or Repair: Replacement or repair of heart valve is recommended to treat the underlying symptoms that have caused heart failure. This surgery will not only help to relieve the symptoms, but will also improve the quality of the patient’s life.
Myectomy: In this therapy, the overgrown septal muscle in the cardiac system is removed to eliminate the clogging that occurs in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Myectomy is usually performed when medications fail to relieve the symptoms.
Heart care specialists often use medications that are proven to increase the chances of survival and prolong life and relieve symptoms. The heart specialist may also prescribe certain medications that help to improve circulation, lower blood pressure and prevent clogging in the arteries or blood thinners to dissolve clots or prevent clotting.
A number of drugs may aid to treat the heart’s inability to pump enough blood through the respective chambers.
- Beta Blockers: These drugs help to lower blood pressure, slow the heart beat and reduce the risk of abnormal or irregular rhythms of heart.
- ACE (Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme) Inhibitors: These inhibitors improve blood flow, reduce blood pressure and decrease the workload of the heart.
- Angiotensin II (A-II) Receptor Blockers (ARBs): A-II receptor blockers have several benefits as compared to the angiotensin converting enzyme without any potential side effects such as persistent cough. It is useful in lowering down the blood pressure and enhance the heart efficiency to pump blood. These drugs may also amend the survival chances of the pateint following a heart attack. Candesartian and valsartan are the common forms of ARBs.
- Diurectics: This drug is used to prevent the accumulation of fluid in the body and lessen the accumulated fluid in the lungs by making breathing easy.
- Inotropes: These medications are intravenous and are used for the patient with severe heart failure. Inotropes help to improve the pumping action of the heart and keep the blood pressure under control.
- Digoxin: This drug can also be called digitalis. It helps to elevate the heart’s contraction strength, tends to reduce the fast heartbeat and controls the irregular heartbeat.
- Aldosterone Antagonists: These drugs may help to repeal scarring of the heart, encourage the cardiac system to work better, and prolong the life of the patient even with severe condition.
- Nesiritide: This medication is intravenous (given through vein). Nesiritide is a synthetic form of BN (B-type natriuretic peptide), a hormone that is produced naturally in the human body.
In some cases, cardiac failure becomes so severe that the patient needs to be kept under observation in the hospital. During treatment, the patient may be given some medications that help the heart to relieve the symptoms and pump appropriately.
Doctors may also provide supplement oxygen. Patients with severe condition may require supplemental oxygen for a long time.
Doctors may ask the patient to make few changes in their lifestyle; this can help the patient in relieving symptoms and preventing the disease from worsening. The possible changes in the lifestyle may include:
- Cutting off the intake of excessive sodium and fat in diet
- Limiting or avoiding the intake of alcohol
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting or avoiding caffeine intake
- Losing extra pounds if the patient is overweight or maintaining the healthy weight
- Exercising according to the schedule structured by the cardiac rehabilitation program or by their own
- Reducing stress and thus the chances of high blood pressure.
A typical congestive heart failure treatment program may usually include all the above practices compositely. There may be a few changes in this program for each individual.
The fundamental purpose of the heart is to pump blood to various body parts. The right side of the heart impels blood to the lungs to receive oxygen. This blood becomes oxygenated and returns to the left side of the heart and then from the left side it moves into the blood vessels which forms a circulatory system from where the blood is carried into the various parts of the body. Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is the condition in which the heart becomes unable to pump and deliver oxygenated blood throughout the body.
The heart is divided into four chambers:
- There are two chambers at the upper side called atria and the two chambers at the lower side called ventricles.
- The body supplies blood through the veins to the right ventricle and right atrium, which is then pumped to the lungs.
- The left ventricle and left atrium collects blood from the lungs and then impels out into the arteries through the aorta. These arteries are mean to feed oxygenated blood to all the tissues and organs of the body.
- Since the function of the left ventricle is to supply blood to the whole body, it is stronger than the right ventricle.
Although the term heart failure sounds frightening, it does not mean that your heart stops working completely. It just indicates that the tissues of the body are unable to receive the required amount of oxygen and blood on a temporary basis. So, do not get discouraged if you came to know that you are undergoing heart failure. With the use of advance techniques for diagnosing and treating this medical condition, many patients are living longer and feeling better.
Overview of Congestive Heart Failure
In this type of medical emergency, the heart becomes weak and less powerful to supply oxygen rich blood to all the body parts. In this condition, the blood does not flow easily through the blood vessels and thus through circulatory system and starts developing pressure in the vessels due to build up fluid. Symptoms depend on which body part is deprived from the blood supply.
Symptoms also depend on which area of the body is most involved in the reduced pumping action.
- When the right ventricle (right side of the heart) stops functioning, a fluid builds up in the lower legs and feet. The prime indication of failure in the functioning of the right ventricle is puffy legs due to swelling (edema), especially pitting edema. In this condition, if a finger is pressed on the swollen part of the leg, it will leave an impression on it. Heart failure does not cause non-pitting edema.
- When the left ventricle (left side of the heart) stops working, fluid starts accumulating into the lungs and causes pulmonary edema or pulmonary congestion. This surplus fluid in the lungs creates difficulty in breathing (the airways do not expand properly when a person inhales), which may cause shortness in breathing even when a person is relaxing.
- As the condition with the right ventricle worsens, the abdomen eventually starts collecting fluid (ascites) and the upper legs start swelling. The fluid retention is accompanied with weight gain.
If this medical emergency is not treated early, it may worsen the condition of the patient over time. There are several causes of congestive heart failure and its outcome may differ for each individual. This emergency may develop step by step over many years or more speedily after a heart muscle disorder or a cardiac arrest. CHF is normally categorized into two types: systolic and diastolic heart failure. Possibilities of developing this CHF increases with age. In addition to this fact, it is observed that the patients who are at higher risk of developing heart disease are also at risk of developing CHF.
Systolic Heart Failure: When the heart fails to pump enough blood into the circulatory system due to the weakened muscles systolic, heart failure occurs.
Diastolic Heart Failure: When the heart is able to contract normally, but gets rigid or stiff during relaxing and refilling with blood, a person may tend to develop a diastolic heart failure. In this condition, the heart fails to fill with enough blood, which results into accumulation of fluid into the lungs and ultimately into symptoms of cardiac failure. This medical emergency is more common in women and patients above 75 years of age, particularly among those with high blood pressure.
Congestive Heart Failure Facts
- CHF is a medical emergency in which the heart is not able to pump adequate amount of blood to fulfill the requirements of the body.
- Symptoms of this disorder may vary for each person, but usually include diminished exercise capacity, severe fatigue, swelling on certain body parts and shortness of breath.
- Many processes accompanied with various diseases may damage the functioning of the heart as a pump and results into cardiac failure.
- This condition can be diagnosed appropriately by taking the medical history of the patient, performing certain laboratory tests and a careful physical analysis.
- The statistics of cardiac failure vary for people in different age groups. This condition affects around 25 percent of people at the age of 85 or above, 5 percent of people at the age of 75 percent or above and 1 percent of people at the age of 50 or above.
- The course of cardiac failure is extremely variable for each patient.
- The treatment options for this medical condition include medications, addressing potentially correctable factors, mechanical therapies, heart transplant, and lifestyle modifications.
- Most of the Medicare patients are hospitalized due to heart failure.
- The death rate from cardiac failure is nearly 10 percent after a year.
You can’t inverse many factors that lead to cardiac failure, but heart failure can usually treated with better outcomes. Medications can reduce the symptoms and signs of cardiac failure and thus help you live for more years. Certain changes in lifestyle such as reducing intake of fats, salt and cholesterol in your diet, exercising regularly, treating depression, managing stress, and especially shedding those extra pounds can actually enhance the quality of life. Controlling the risk factors and other disorders such as high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes can work best to prevent the congestive heart failure.
Heart attack (myocardial infarction) is sudden failure in the functioning of the heart due to the interruption in the oxygen-rich blood supply to any section of the heart. If a person experiences severe chest pain or any of the heart attack symptoms, he or she should immediately consult a doctor. Heart attack diagnosis and treatment are performed at the same time when a patient undergoes severe pain in the middle part of the chest. The risk factors and symptoms of cardiovascular diseases should not be ignored because if they remain untreated, it may lead to death of a person.
Heart Attack Diagnosis
First of all, doctors take the medical and physical history of the patient. Then they carry out certain tests and examinations for the diagnosis of coronary artery disease. These tests can be:
Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
This is a simple, quick and painless test that analyzes and records the electrical activity of the heart. It measures the heart’s electrical activity and its conduction in the cardiac muscles. Electrocardiogram helps to direct what exactly happens in the ER. This test makes a graph that indicates how speedily the heart is beating along with its rhythm (abnormal or steady). It also records the timing and strength of electrical signals, as they move from every single part of the heart.
An ECG can show signs of a current and previous coronary heart disease along with the signs of damage to the heart because of the coronary heart disease. If the heart has undergone huge damage due to an attack, it can be seen in the EKG record, in case of damage to small portions of the heart muscle; the ECG may look comparatively normal.
If the ECG report does not find out the heart attack (an electrocardiogram can be normal even if the heart attack has occurred). In such case, the second step would be a blood test to indentify the level of heart damage. During myocardial infarction, cardiac muscle cells die and discharge chemicals into the blood vessels. These chemicals are proteins such as CPK, troponin and cardiac enzymes myoglobin, which are measured in combination or alone to detect whether the heart muscle is damaged. The most common type of blood tests to detect an attack include serum myoglobin tests, CK–MB or CK tests and troponin test. Blood test is helpful to measure how much proteins are present in the bloodstream and the higher level of protein in the blood indicates a heart attack.
Unfortunately, the chemicals take time for accumulating in the blood vessels after the muscles of the heart gets damaged. Samples of blood need to be taken after certain time so that the outcome can be interpreted. These tests are usually repeated to keep the track of changes with time.
This test may be carried out to find out various facts including the clarity of lung areas, width of the aorta and heart shape. If the X-rays fail to find out whether a heart attack has occurred, further tests such as CT scans, echocardiography, heart catheterization and stress test are taken. Doctors evaluate the overall condition of the patient and then decide the preferable diagnosis option. Diagnosis technique of cardiac attack may vary for each patient.
In this test, special x rays and dye are used to evaluate the coronary arteries from inside. Coronary angiography is often carried out during a heart attack; this helps to find the clogs in the arteries. The cardiac catheterization technique is used to insert the dye into the arteries.
A catheter (a thin elastic tube) is inserted into the blood vessel in your upper thigh (groin), neck or arm. The coronary artery is ribbed with this tube and a dye is injected into the bloodstream. The flow of the dye through the arteries and the heart is analyzed by the doctor with the help of special x rays. If your doctor finds any clogging, they recommended a technique called angioplasty. This technique helps to remove the blockage and restore blood supply through the artery. In some cases, a stent (a small mesh tube) is fixed in the artery to avoid further clogging after angioplasty.
Heart Attack Treatment
Understand your symptoms of cardiac arrest to take immediate medical assistance. Early treatment can help to limit or prevent impairment to the heart muscles. Taking quick action when you experience the first symptoms of cardiac failure can save your life. In some cases, doctors start diagnosing and treating the patient even before they reach the hospital.
Some treatments are initiated right away if a cardiac failure is suspected, even prior to the confirmation of the heart attack. These treatment options may include:
- Aspirin is given to the patient, as it helps to thin the blood and prevent it from further clotting.
- Oxygen therapy
- Chest pain treatment
- Nitroglycerin is used, as it helps to reduce the work burden on the heart and enhance the flow of blood through the arteries.
Once the cardiac arrest is strongly suspected or confirmed, more effective treatment options are adopted to promptly reinstate the flow of blood towards the heart. The two prime treatment options to open the clogged coronary arteries are angioplasty and clot busting.
This is a non surgical technique that clears up the narrowed and blocked arteries. This technique can also be referred as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). During angioplasty, a thin elastic tube with a balloon attached to its end is ribbed through a blood vessel to the clogged or narrowed coronary artery. In some cases, the balloon is replaced with some other device.
Once the tube is placed, the balloon is blown up to constrict the plaque against the artery wall. This helps to restart the blood supply through the artery. During angioplasty, the doctor may place a stent in the artery. This helps to prevent clogging in the artery for several months or year after angioplasty.
Clot Busting Medicines
These medicines are called clot busters (or Thrombolytic medicines), which are meant to dissolve the clots of blood that are clogging the arteries. Clot busters work best if given within few hours of the initiation of cardiac failure signs.
Other Treatment Options for Cardiovascular Diseases
Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is a surgical process that is used to treat this medical emergency. During this process, a healthy vein or artery from the patient’s body is taken off to graft or connect it to the blocked artery. This grafted vein or artery bypasses the clogged area of the artery and provides a new path for blood to move towards the heart muscle.
ACE Inhibitors: They help to lower the strain on the heart as well as reduce the blood pressure. ACE inhibitors also reduce further debilitation of the heart muscle.
Beat Blockers: This medicine decreases the rate of workload on the heart. Beta blockers are also used to get relief from the discomfort due to chest pain and also forbids repeat cardiac attack. They can also be used for treating arrhythmias.
Anti-clotting Medicines: These medicines prevent the formation of unwanted blood clots and clumping of platelets. Clopidogrel and aspirin are the anti clotting medicines.
Anticoagulants: These are blood thinners which prevent the formation of blood clot in the arteries. Anticoagulants also restrict the existing clots from getting huge.
Doctors may sometimes give medicine to relieve anxiety and pain, lower the cholesterol level and treat arrhythmias. The treatment for heart attack is long lasting because after getting discharged from the hospital, you may have to continue with the medicines on a regular basis along with visiting the cardiac rehabilitation often. You may have to take the pneumococcal vaccine and flu shot every year.
Conducting heart attack diagnosis and treatment once you experience the first symptom can save your life and help you recover quickly.
Nowadays, heart diseases (cardiovascular diseases) are getting more common all over the world. According to the study of the American Health Association, they are becoming the prime killer for both, men as well as women. Moreover, the main concern is that often people are not aware that they are at risk of getting heart related disorders. Cardiac disorders include several conditions that not only affect the heart, but also damage the blood vessels and arteries surrounding the heart. Some of the heart diseases include:
- Congenital heart disease
- Heart failure
- Vascular disease
- Pericardial disease
- Aorta disease and Marfan syndrome
Among all other types of heart diseases in men, coronary heart disease is more common and it is caused due to the blockage or narrowing of the arteries through which blood is supplied to the heart.
With an aim to prevent such medical condition, it is significant to understand the functioning of your heart. The intensity of cardiovascular diseases can be minimized by taking care of your health, diet and learning about the required care and treatment.
Heart Diseases in Men
When we think of cardiovascular diseases, generally heart attack or coronary heart disease comes to our mind. But unfortunately, this is just one type of cardiac disease, and there are several other such diseases that affect the functioning and structure of the heart. They are listed as below:
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD): This is a form of atherosclerosis in which the arteries that supply oxygenated blood and nutrients to the heart get harden.
Heart Failure: This term is really frightening; however, heart failure does not mean that the heart stops working or fails to function completely. Failure of heart refers to the condition in which the heart is not able to pump adequate or required amount of blood. This is one of the major issues of concern that is affecting around five million people in the United States. Often, men above the age of 65 get more prone to this condition. Heart failure is diagnosed among 550,00 people every year.
Congenital Heart Disease (CHD): This type of disease refers to the defect in one or more blood vessels or structure of the heart and is often present since birth. There are several type of heart defects, most of which either cause blood to flow in an abnormal pattern or obstruct the blood supply in the heart or vessels surrounding it. As per the study of scientists, genetics and heredity may contribute to CHD as well as exposure to certain viral infection; drugs and use of alcohol during pregnancy may also play a vital role. Heart defects are the major cause of deaths due to birth related defects. Around 7 out of every 1000 children get affected due to congenital heart defects. Symptoms of this disorder may begin during childhood, at birth and in some conditions during adulthood.
Heart Valve Disease: The heart has four chambers and heart valves are located at the end of each heart chamber. They are responsible for maintaining the one way flow of blood through the heart. When these valves do not function in an appropriate manner or typical pattern, a person tends to develop a heart valve disease. Causes of this disease may be congenital valve disease, acquired valve disease, endocarditis, rheumatic fever or mitral valve prolapse (MVP). Examples of this disorder may include mitral valve insufficiency and aortic stenosis.
Enlarged Heart or Cardiomyopathy: Enlarged heart is a type of heart muscle disease. People with this medical condition have their hearts abnormally thickened, enlarged, or/and stiffened due to which the ability of the heart to pump blood gets affected or weakened. If cardiomyopathy is left untreated, it may worsen with time and may often lead to abnormal heart rhythms and heart failure.
Pericardial Disease: This is a disorder which affects the membranous sac in which the heart is enclosed. Pericardial disease is an inflammatory process that develops clinical syndrome due to the pericardial friction rub, alterations in the electrocardiogram (ECG) and chest pain.
Vascular Disease (Blood Vessel Disease): The heart pumps blood with each of its beat through the circulatory system (system of blood vessels). The circulatory system involves veins (that return blood back to the heart) and arteries (that carry blood from the heart to other body parts). Vascular disorder includes any medical condition such as peripheral artery disease that affects the circulatory system. This may involve various diseases related to blood disorders, veins, lymph vessels and arteries that affect blood circulation.
Arrythmias (Abnormal Heart Rhythm): In a normal state, the heart beats in a pattern; even rhythm and in a steady form. It beats around 60 to 100 times in one minute. But when the heart gets out of rhythm, it beats in an abnormal and irregular manner, and this condition is referred as arrhythmia. This condition can also be termed as dysrhythmia and can involve alteration in the rhythm which produces a change in the rate or uneven heartbeat, resulting into a very fast or very slow heartbeat.
What are the Risk Factors?
Risk factors of heart diseases in men can be controllable as well as uncontrollable.
The term controllable refers to the risk factors that can be controlled by making changes in your lifestyle and such risk factors involve:
- Activity level of a person
- Drinking and smoking habits
The term uncontrollable refers to the risk factors that cannot be controlled. This may include:
- Family history
- Body type
Other major risk factors may involve high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
How to Lower Your Risk of Developing a Heart Disease?
In most cases, a man’s risk of cardiovascular disease begins to rise gradually after the age of 45. Fortunately, you can minimize your risk by adopting certain steps. These may include:
- Avoid or quit smoking and using other tobacco products.
- Often check your triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
- Often check your blood pressure. If you are a high blood pressure victim, follow the precautions and medications given by the doctor.
- Start having a heart-healthy diet. Add plenty of fresh and green vegetables, fruits, and fiber rich foods in your diet. Restrict foods rich in cholesterol, sodium, saturated fat and trans fat.
- Perform regular physical activity that will burn your extra calories and will keep you active.
- Know about your BMI (body mass index) and maintain your weight accordingly.
- If you are a diabetic patient, control your diabetes by following the instructions give by the doctor.
- Limit consumption of alcohol since excessive intake may cause high blood pressure.
After learning about the risk factors and types of heart diseases in men, you should be alert about your health. Consult your doctor and discuss about your risk factors and available preventive measures. It’s critically significant to get educated about your prospects of developing any of these fatal diseases. Eat healthy, stay active and protect your heart from developing any type of heart disease. Follow the above mentioned steps and don’t delay in getting prompt medical aid if you think you may develop any of these cardiovascular diseases.