Heart Diseases

Heart diseases_ BP

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of heart diseases

Premature death rate in India increased by 59% between the years 1990 and 2010. Cardiovascular diseases are the major contributors to this drastic change. The heart is the most essential organ of the body that is responsible for pumping blood to different organs. Abnormalities in the functioning of  heart may lead to serious complications and even death. A large percentage of  world’s population is suffering from different types of “heart diseases” at present. According to global estimates by the World Health Organization, about 17.3 million deaths are reported annually due to cardiovascular diseases. They have also predicted that this count may rise to 23.6 million by 2030. Earlier, heart diseases were associated with old age only. But in the recent years, small children and young adults have also been diagnosed with heart diseases. Clearly, heart disorders have increased global mortality and morbidity rates to an alarming extent.

What are heart diseases?

Heart diseases patientHeart diseases refer to a group of symptoms arising from malfunctioning of the heart muscles that may eventually lead to heart attack

In such conditions, the heart fails to supply blood to different organs of the body, owing to some major dysfunctions. This causes increased oxygen demand in those organs which cannot be met.

Therefore, progressive failure of vital organs occurs, leading to death. Heart problems are normally observed after age of 60.

But recently, due to increased environmental stress and numerous other factors, heart disorders are observed at a much younger age as well (below 40).

What causes heart diseases?

Heart diseases are triggered by numerous environmental, physiological and psychological factors. These are described below-

  • Aging: Degeneration of heart muscles occurs at old age along with thickening and loss of elasticity of the arterial walls. This leads to defective pumping of blood to other organs and may lead to heart problems.
  • High blood pressure: Due to thickening and stiffening of the cardiac muscles, the heart has to exert more force to pump blood. This leads to high blood pressure that gradually progresses to cardiovascular diseases.
  • Existing diseases: Patients suffering from a few chronic diseases like high cholesterol (causes fat deposition in heart muscles) and diabetes (Type II) have high risks of developing heart diseases at some point of time. Diseases like Hemochromatosis (build-up of iron) and Amyloidosis ( abnormal deposition of excess amyloid fibrils protein) can also be major contributors to cardiovascular ailments.
  • Defective heart valves: Malfunctioning or structural abnormalities of heart valves impede flow of blood in the proper direction. This may lead to a reverse flow of venous blood (deoxygenated blood). Heart problems of chronic nature may result in these conditions that may lead to heart failure.
  • Congenital disorders: Many children are born with defective heart valves or structural defects of the heart muscles. In future, these may develop into heart disorders.
  • Genetics: A history of heart diseases in a family can lead to congenital heart diseases in the future generations. For example, Hemochromatosis is a genetic condition that leads to cardiovascular problems.
  • Substance abuse: Excessive intake of alcohol and tobacco cause stiffening of arteries, elevated blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat. These collectively lead to degeneration of cardiac muscles and thus make one more vulnerable to serious heart conditions such as a cardiac arrest.
  • Stress: Physical or mental stress due to environmental factors or other stressors can lead to heart diseases with time.
  • Diet: A regular diet rich in saturated fats, animal proteins (red meat), cholesterols and triglycerides can precipitate heart diseases after a certain age (above 55).
  • Obesity: Obesity and overweight conditions can cause deposition of excess fat within the heart muscles. This can cause delayed functioning of cardiac muscles and lead to heart diseases.
  • Physical activities: Leading an absolutely sedentary lifestyle with minimum or no physical exercise can increase chances of heart diseases. Again, excess physical activities after a certain age may cause palpitation and equally contribute to heart diseases.

What are the symptoms of heart diseases?

Heart diseases_ BPHeart diseases normally do not manifest themselves at an early stage. At an advanced stage, the following symptoms are prominent-

  • Chest pain, discomfort, and tightness around the chest
  • Pain may radiate to  back, jaw, and neck
  • Pain in arms and shoulder blades
  • Sudden breathlessness
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • A wheezing cough (may generate blood tinged sputum)
  • Bluish discoloration of the skin (cyanosis)
  • Shortness of breath during sleep (sleep apnea)

What are the types of heart diseases?

Heart diseases have a few important sub-types. Below is a list of all of them-

  • Coronary artery disease: In this condition, arteries become very narrow. This disrupts normal flow of blood through them. This leads to an acute shortage of blood supply to the heart. Two clinical conditions arise in this case- Angina (pressure and pain in the chest) and heart attack (complete blockage of a particular artery).
  • Peripheral artery disease: In this condition, obstruction of arteries supplying blood to legs and arms occurs.
  • Rheumatic heart disease: It is a Streptococcus infection. It causes severe damage to the valves and muscles of the heart.
  • Arrhythmia: It has features like- an abnormal heart rate that may cause patient to feel dizzy and even faint.
  • Tachycardia: It refers to a rapid elevation of heart rate.
  • Bradycardia: It is the abnormal reduction in heart rate.
  • Myocarditis: Acute inflammation of the heart muscles lead to myocardial infarctions in a few patients.
  • Cardiomyopathy: In this disease, the heart muscles expand and become stiff. It may predispose the person to cardiac failure in future.
  • Congenital heart disease: It arises from certain abnormalities present in heart from birth. These may include- holes in heart, defective valves, and defective heart chambers.

Diagnosis

Doctors recommend a few diagnostic techniques that help detect the occurrence of any heart disease-

  • Chest radiograph: It detects cardiac enlargement or pulmonary edema.
  • Echocardiogram: It measures the ventricular contractile functions (systolic and diastolic).
  • Lipid profile test: To check for high cholesterol.
  • Lyme serology: This test is used to detect the presence of Lyme disease. Such infections can trigger myocarditis.
  • Urinalysis: Urine tests are used to look signs of kidney malfunctioning and/or high blood sugar. Both kidney issues and diabetes can trigger heart diseases.

Treatment & Prevention

Arrhythmia 

Heart diseasesTreatment 

  • In cases of bradycardia (slow heartbeat), a pacemaker is implanted near the collarbone and the wire is attached to heart. If the heartbeat is slow or below normal, pacemaker passes electric impulses to help bring back the heartbeat to its normal levels.
  • Certain maneuvers such as holding your breath, coughing etc. can affect nervous system, thereby bringing the heart rate back to normal. This can be done in case of tachycardia (fast heartbeat).
  • In many cases of tachycardia, doctors will prescribe medications to help bring the heart rate back to normal. If the patient doesn’t respond to these, an external defibrillator will be used to delivered electric shock. These electrical impulses regulate heartbeat.
  • Catheter ablation is a popular method for treating arrhythmia. This makes use of radiofrequency energy to destroy the particular area of heart that is causing irregular heartbeats.
  • A surgical procedure is conducted if  patient does not respond to other treatment methods. Here doctors create a pattern of scar tissue in the upper half of the heart, thereby interrupting electrical impulses that cause arrhythmia.
  • In cases where patients have coronary artery disease along with arrhythmia, a coronary bypass surgery is conducted to help increase blood flow to heart.

Prevention 

  • Reduce stress levels as anxiety and stress can increase the risk of arrhythmias.
  • Refrain from smoking or any form of tobacco consumption. Smoking can lead to coronary artery diseases and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease along with arrhythmia. Nicotine can make the heart beat faster, and may add to the risk of developing an arrhythmia.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese (having a BMI higher than 25) can increase chances of hypertension, coronary heart diseases, and arrhythmia.
  • Consume clean and healthy food consisting of fruits and vegetables, whole-grain foods, omega-3 fatty acids and to help prevent arrhythmia.
  • Exercise regularly, this helps in increasing heart strength and stamina, therefore decreasing the chances of developing an arrhythmia.

Myocarditis 

Treatment 

  • Medications to relax the blood vessels, address heart failure along with controlling arrhythmia, reduce sodium levels, and increase blood flow are prescribed to those with myocarditis.
  • In patients with a weak heart, medical pumps are prescribed to help pump blood from the lower half of the heart to the rest of the body.
  • A catheter is implanted in the patient’s body that has a balloon at its tip. This balloon is inflated in order to maintain proper blood flow through the arteries
  • In cases of severe heart failure, blood is removed from the body (carbon dioxide is removed and oxygen is added to the blood). Once this is done, the newly oxygenated blood is put back in the body and circulated.

Prevention 

  • Ensure that you get the vaccinations for German measles (rubella) and influenza, as they could lead to myocarditis.
  • The HIV virus can lead to myocarditis. Practice safe sex to reduce your chances of acquiring myocarditis.
  • Maintain proper hygiene to reduce the risk of developing any viral infection that may cause myocarditis.

Cardiomyopathy 

Treatment 

  • Medications to help improve the heart’s blood pumping ability, improve blood flow, lower blood pressure levels, and reduce the formations of clots will be prescribed to those who have been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy.
  • A nonsurgical procedure, septal ablation, is conducted to help improve blood flow through the thickened area of the heart. Here, alcohol is injected into the thickened part of the heart through a catheter to destroy it.
  • A catheter is used to destroy part of the heart that may have been causing arrhythmia. Here electrodes are passed through the catheter to destroy arrhythmia-causing tissues of the heart.
  • A surgical procedure is conducted to remove the thickened part of the heart to improve blood flow.
  • In worse case scenario, where the patient does not respond to any of the other treatment methods, a heart transplant might be required.

Prevention 

  • Consume safe limits of alcohol.  Excess consumption could lead to weakening and thinning of the heart muscles and may also affect the heart’s ability to pump blood.
  • Exercise regularly. It can decrease blood pressure and improve breathing.
  • Quit smoking. The carbon monoxide that is present in cigarette smoke reduces the amount of oxygen that is carried in the blood and could lead to cardiomyopathy.
  • Consume a clean and healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole-grain products, and foods containing low levels of sodium.

Congenital heart disease 

Treatment 

  • Medications to treat mild cases of congenital heart diseases are prescribed along with medications to treat arrhythmia and prevent blood clots.
  • Some patients have implanted devices to help bring their heart rate back to normal. Devices such as pacemakers and implanted cardioverter-defibrillators (ICD) help in monitoring arrhythmia.
  • Procedures that do not require an open-heart surgery are conducted to treat congenital heart diseases. Here, doctors insert a catheter through a vein in the leg and use tools through the catheter to repair the cardiac defects.
  • In cases where catheterization (procedures using a catheter) is not successful, doctors recommend open-heart surgeries to help treat congenital heart diseases.
  • In the worst case scenario, where other treatment methods do not work, doctors recommend a heart transplant.

TL;DR?

Facts

  • 1 in every 4 adults succumbs to heart diseases every year in the United States.
  • Any individual with a parent or sibling (first-degree relative) or an uncle or grandparent (second-degree relative) who has been diagnosed with a heart disease before the age of 60 years, has a 10% chance of developing a heart disease early in his/her life.

Facts

  • Heart diseases are also known as cardiovascular diseases (CD) or coronary heart diseases (CHD).
  • Heart diseases are the leading cause of death among women, in the United States.

Facts

  • 735,000 people have a heart attack every year, due to heart diseases in the United States.
  • 70% of heart diseases can be linked to stress.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Consume green (2-3 cups) or black tea (2-3 cups) per day. Doing so will help in reducing the chances of developing atherosclerosis and buildup of plaque in the arteries.
  • Exercise regularly as it can help reduce stress levels, high blood pressure, and the chances of strokes and heart attacks.
  • Limit your consumption of saturated fats (found in foods such as butter, cream, beef, pork etc.) as they can increase the cholesterol levels in the body.
Don'ts
  • Consume tobacco or tobacco-based products. These products increase the triglyceride levels, reduce the good cholesterol (HDL) levels, and cause thickening of blood vessels in the body. .
  • Let your BMI exceed more than 25. BMI that exceeds more than 25 can lead to high blood pressure, increase in LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, decrease in HDL (good cholesterol) levels, and can also increase the risk of diabetes.
  • Consume illicit drugs. Doing so can lead to collapsed veins, bacterial infections of blood vessels and valves, and irregular heartbeat.

 

 

 

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Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
dandelion weight loss
Caralluma Fimbriata: How to eat this cactus to lose weight Caralluma fimbriata is a miracle cactus that can be safely consumed by most for losing weight and boosting…
Astaxanthin: Why experts believe it could be 550x more potent than vitamin E! What is astaxanthin and why is this new supplement on the block touted as the most powerful antioxidant…
How do neutrophils protect you from fatal bacterial attacks? During an infection, certain enzymes alert the mature neutrophils.  Neutrophils then travel through the bloodstream to the affected…
Is bronchitis contagious? And how to prevent this infection? It is acute bronchitis that is contagious which means you can contract it from another person or you…
Krill Oil: Does the solution to human illnesses really lie at the depths of the ocean? The word "krill" means “small fry of fish” in Norwegian. They are usually the primary food source of…
Bromelain: 11 reasons why you should start adding pineapple to your pizza! If you didn't love pineapples already, here are some of the top health benefits that bromelain can bring…
gout diet purines
Gout Diet : Get relief from painful joints by eating these foods Are you a victim of this painful condition? Are medications providing only short relief? Find a list of…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
Coconut sugar: What is it and is it healthier than table sugar? In the long list of things that the wonderful coconut gives us, coconut sugar is another remarkable addition.…
Muscle relaxers: Think twice before popping prescription drugs for muscle pain The market is brimming with OTC muscle relaxers. But these come with a host side-effects. Find out the…
Goji berry: A traditional Chinese berry that packs the best of antioxidants Goji berry is an ancient berry that is considered to be power-packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Which means…
Vagus nerve: 7 health benefits of stimulating the “gut-brain” connection As a matter of fact, there are two vagus nerves namely the left and the right but is…
Appendix pain: Recent findings on this not-so vestigial organ The exact function of the appendix is still not clear. Some consider it as an organ that once…
Inhale oxygen, exhale worries: The top breathing exercises and how to perform them Performing the breathing exercise is like becoming mindful of how you breathe.  Here is a list of breathing…
EEG
Electroencephalogram – EEG EEG or electroencephalogram is a diagnostic tool used to access the functioning of neurons and brain activity to…
BoneMarrow-Biopsy
Bone Marrow Biopsy Bone marrow biopsy is a diagnostic procedure where a small amount of bone marrow is extracted from hip…
liver biopsy procedure
Liver Biopsy Liver biopsy or hepatic biopsy is a diagnostic tool that collects a sample of live tissue from the…
malarial antigen test
Malaria Antigen Test A malaria antigen test is a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) that can detect malarial antigens (proteins) in your…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
BULIMIA NERVOSA vomiting
Can you get addicted to food? Learn everything about food addiction What is food addiction? How can people get addicted to eating? Is it an unhealthy eating habit or…
Dr. Gundry's diet
Dr. Gundry’s diet: A new concept in dieting American physician Dr. Steven Gundry created the "Plant Paradox" program based on a lectin-free diet to improve the…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
oral hygiene tips
6 shocking consequences of bad oral hygiene (and how to avoid them) Did you know bad breath is not just turning off, but also harms your body in ways you…
Is it possible to achieve full body detox with Master Cleanse? Master cleanse is a diet consisting of a lemonade based beverage, a salt water drink and a herbal…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Plexus Slim: Is this pink slimming drink the ultimate one-stop fat burner? How effective is Plexus Slim in helping people lose weight? What are its ingredients? Can it be safely…
Coffee Enema: Turn your favorite morning beverage into a powerful colon cleanser The wonders of coffee are not just limited to waking you up every morning. You can now use…
Vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 Test Vitamin b12 is an essential nutrient required for healthy functioning of the nervous system and also development of…
ANTIPHOSPHOLIPIDANTIBODY(APL)_IgG
Antiphospholipid (APL) antibody-IgG The Antiphospholipid Antibody testing is a blood test used to determine an autoimmune disorder called Antiphospholipid syndrome linked…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
carbamazepine
Carbamazepine / Tegretol test The carbamazepine is a drug that is used to treat epilepsy and the carbamazepine test is performed to…
cardioliin antibody iga
Cardiolipin Antibody (ACL) – IgA test Cardiolipins are phospholipids that are constituents of the platelets and the cell membranes. The IgA test detects the…
apolipoprotein a1 test
Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
stress adverse effects
Fight, flight, or freeze: 8 ways stress can ruin your body Did you know that stress is in-built in our systems? It helped our ancestors respond to danger. How…