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Heart

Heart diseases or cardiovascular diseases refer to a wide range of conditions affecting the heart including arrhythmia, atherosclerosis, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart defects, coronary artery disease (CAD), heart infections, etc.

Symptoms of Heart Diseases

    The symptoms of heart problems are considered very diverse: some of them are clear and certain, and many others are so common that can be only distinguished by a specialist. The different symptoms of heart diseases vary depending on their types. However, the common symptoms being considered a sign of the heart problem are:

    • Fatigue and weakness;
    • Swollen legs especially ankles;
    • Shortness of breath;
    • Bloating;
    • Discomfort in the chest;
    • Pain in unexpected areas;
    • Irregular heartbeat;
    • Snoring during sleep;
    • Nausea and vomiting;
    • Cold sweats.

Treatment of Heart Diseases

    There are many effective medicines that can reduce the risk of heart diseases and improve the quality of life by controlling the symptoms. The medications mostly prescribed to treat heart problems include:

    • Medicines controlling high blood pressure;
    • High blood cholesterol drugs;
    • Manage and stop angina;
    • Stop blood clots in coronary arteries;
    • Heart rate control medications.

    As well as the above medicines, there may be the other ways to treat heart diseases such as angioplasty, different kinds of surgeries, heart transplant, or even lifestyle changes, etc.

Heart Diseases Risk Factors

    The heart diseases are regarded as one of the main causes of death in the world, i.e. as statistics reveals, one of each four deaths is due to heart problems. Heart diseases can happen to everybody without any exception. However, some factors play an effective role in increasing likelihood of heart diseases. These risk factors are as followings:

    • Age;
    • Genetic;
    • Sex;
    • Smoking;
    • Certain chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapy;
    • Unhealthy diet;
    • High blood pressure;
    • High blood cholesterol levels;
    • Diabetes;
    • Obesity;
    • Physical inactivity;
    • Stress;
    • Poor hygiene.

Heart Diseases Prevention

    The modern lifestyle conditions are regarded as the main factor in occurring most of health problems, as well as heart ones. It is an undeniable reality. Experts believe that the health problems, particularly heart diseases which are mostly fatal can decrease, be controlled or even prevented through some changes in the lifestyle habits. The main factors to promote good health and have a healthy lifestyle involve:

    • Following a healthy diet (low-fat products and rich in fruits and vegetables) and having balanced meals;
    • Improving sleeping habits;
    • Doing exercise;
    • Keeping in shape;
    • Quitting smoking and tobacco products;
    • Reducing alcohol consumption;
    • Controlling high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes.

    The open-heart surgery is considered the traditional heart surgery. It refers to any type of surgery that chest is cut open to perform on the muscles, valves, or arteries connected to the heart. It is prescribed to treat various diseases including those of coronary arteries, congenital heart defects, and heart valve disorders particularly when vascular arteriosclerosis or heart valve dysfunction is above 70%.

Open Heart Surgery Types

    The open-heart surgery is usually done in different ways for different purposes. Generally, the most common types of open heart surgeries include:

    • Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG): it is regarded as one of the oldest methods for open- heart surgery to treat coronary artery disease (CAD). In this method, the blood is oxygenated and pumped via an artificial system like a heart-lung machine which allow the surgeon to do operation on the heart, while the heartbeat is stopped for an interim period;
    • Heart valve surgery: in the heart valve disease, at least one of the four heart valves carrying the blood flow does not function properly. The procedure is about fixing, repairing or replacing the damaged heart valves;
    • Heart transplant: when the other treatment ways do not respond properly, the transplantation is done and a normal heart is replaced;
    • Thoracic aortic surgery: the aorta, the large blood vessel, is responsible for carrying oxygen-rich blood runs through the body from the heart. The procedure of thoracic aortic surgery is carried out to treat the aortic diseases or the damaged aorta.

When is Open-heart Surgery Needed?

    The open heart surgery is usually recommended in the conditions such as:

    • The Congenital Defects: it is used to eliminate congenital heart defects that have been associated with the birth of a patient;
    • Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CAGB): the open heart surgery is performed to create a new pathway around coronary arteries using a healthy one;
    • Heart transplant: the patient’s heart is replaced by a healthy heart through the open heart surgery;
    • The repair or replacement of heart valves: open heart surgery is carried out for fixing, as well as replacing the heart valves that are responsible for managing the entry and exit of the blood to the heart;
    • The open-heart surgery is done for controlling the heart rate and making sure of its proper functioning through the implant surgery;
    • Transmyocardial laser revascularization: if the coronary artery bypass graft does not work the transmyocardial laser revascularization is done to create channels in order to supply the blood to the heart;
    • Maze surgery: if the ventricular fibrillation disease is not treated by medications or the other less invasive techniques, the procedure of Maze surgery is performed. In this method, the abnormal electrical flow path is blocked using a waste tissue.

    Mitral regurgitation occurs when the mitral valve does not close completely in each pumping cycle and the blood returns to the heart. So, the blood does not flow through the body well and the patient feel tiredness and shortness of breath.

Mitral Regurgitation Symptoms

    The symptoms of mitral regurgitation include:

    • Shortness of breath during activities;
    • Coughing;
    • Congestion around the heart and lungs;
    • Swollen legs and feet.

    Cardiomyopathy describes the disease connecting to the myocardium or heart muscle. The disease causes some changes and makes the myocardium large, thick and inflamed. In cardiomyopathy, the heart becomes weak and loses its ability to pump blood. Moreover, cardiomyopathy is sometimes detected associated with the high blood pressure or heart valve disease. Cardiomyopathy may result in heart failure. It can also affect anyone at any age.

Cardiomyopathy Types

    Cardiomyopathy generally includes different types such as:

    • Dilated cardiomyopathy;
    • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy;
    • Restrictive cardiomyopathy;
    • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia;
    • Transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM).

Cardiomyopathy Symptoms

    Some patients with cardiomyopathy may feel no symptoms. But when the disease develops, the main symptoms include:

    • Coughing;
    • Fatigue;
    • Dizziness;
    • Shortness of breath;
    • Irregular heartbeats;
    • Fainting during physical activities;
    • Swollen legs, ankles, and feet;
    • Chest pressure after physical activities or eating heavy meals.

Cardiomyopathy Causes

    The certain cause of cardiomyopathy remains unclear. However, it may be acquired, appeared due to another disease, or inherited, i.e. genetic causes and family history, passed on from the parent to the child.

Cardiomyopathy Risk Factors

    Moreover, there are some effective risk factors which lead to cardiomyopathy. The risk factors are as follows:

    • Viral infection;
    • Alcohol abuse (alcoholism);
    • Family history;
    • High blood pressure;
    • Heart attack;
    • Obesity;
    • Thyroid disease;
    • Diabetes;
    • Heart valve problems;
    • Coronary heart disease;
    • Complications of pregnancy;
    • Nutritional deficiencies.

Cardiomyopathy Treatment

    The treatment is not required in the conditions that reveal no symptoms. But in other cases, depending on the type and symptoms of the diseases, the treatment will be different including surgery and nonsurgical procedures such as changes in lifestyle concentrating on heart health, medicines and implanting devices.
    When the heart is not able to pump the enough blood effectively, Heart failure happens which affects the right side or the left one or even both sides of the body. Heart failure is a long-term disease that worsens over time. However, it can be approximately controlled for many years. However, the high blood pressure, heart attack, cardiomyopathy, as well as the coronary artery disease are regarded as the reasons for heart failure.

Heart Failure Symptoms

    Heart failure include symptoms such as:

    • Shortness of breath;
    • Fatigue and weakness;
    • Swollen ankles, legs or stomach;
    • Rapid or irregular heartbeat;
    • Weight gain;
    • Losing the appetite;
    • Nausea;
    • Dizziness;
    • Coughing.

Then at least one of the coronary arteries, supplying blood to the heart, is suddenly and completely blocked usually by a blood clot, the heart attack occurs. It is considered one of the most common types of heart disease that may seriously damage the heart muscle and as a result, it can be fatal.

Heart Attack Symptoms

    The symptoms depend on the sex and can be different among men and women. However, there are some common some symptoms for a heart attack listed as below:

    • Feeling pain on the left or right arm, neck, jaw, back or stomach (It can make a severe pain; however, some people experience just a sense of being uncomfortable);
    • An irregular or quick heart-beat;
    • Feeling Pain or discomfort in the chest that suddenly occurs and doesn’t go away;
    • Nausea or vomiting;
    • Shortness of breath;
    • Fatigue;
    • Indigestion;
    • Stomach burning.

    It is highly important to pay attention to the symptoms of heart diseases and it should not be overlooked. If the treatment delays, it can lead to further damages to the heart tissue.

The coronary arteries are responsible for supplying the needed blood, oxygen and nutrients for heart. Actually, coronary artery disease (CAD) develops when the coronary arteries got damaged, narrowed or blocked due to being filled up with cholesterol or atherosclerosis.

Coronary Artery Disease Symptoms

    The disease may reveal no symptoms. However, the most common ones can happen as angina or chest pain that can be associated with the pain in the neck, jaw, shoulders, throat, back, and teeth. Also, angina is usually diagnosed with symptoms such as:

    • Heaviness;
    • Pressure;
    • Aching;
    • Numbness;
    • Fullness;
    • Squeezing;
    • Pain.

    Moreover, shortness of breath and heart attack are considered the other signs of the problem.

Coronary Artery Disease Causes

    As mentioned above, the main cause of coronary artery disease is considered atherosclerosis. There are effective factors resulting in the disease as follows:

    • High blood pressure;
    • High blood cholesterol level;
    • Diabetes;
    • Smoking and using tobacco products;
    • Physical inactivity;
    • Obesity.

Coronary Artery Disease Treatment

    The main treatments for the coronary artery disease can be regarded as changes in lifestyle habits, medications, as well as medical procedures such as angioplasty, stent placement and coronary artery bypass surgery to improve the blood flow.

Arrhythmia or irregular heartbeats is the problem about the heart-rhythm. It occurs when the electrical impulses controlling the heartbeat do not act properly which causes the heart to beat too fast, too slow or irregularly. Actually, arrhythmia can be felt when the heartbeat changes.

Arrhythmia Types

    Arrhythmia is classified into different types such as:

    • Tachycardia meaning the abnormal fast heartbeats;
    • Bradycardia referring to the condition in which the heart beats more slowly than normal;
    • Fibrillation is the irregular heartbeats. It is considered a normal condition and people usually experience it during their life. However, it should be noticed seriously if the heart is damaged and weakened or the heartbeats are not normal. Otherwise it can lead to death especially if it causes pain in the chest or it lasts for a long time.

Arrhythmia Causes

    The cause of arrhythmia is not clear in some cases. However, the main possible causes of this condition can be considered as following:

    • Heart attack;
    • High blood pressure;
    • Thyroid disease;
    • Smoking and using tobacco products;
    • Alcoholism;
    • Medication sensitivity;
    • Diabetes;
    • Sleep apnea;
    • Genetics;
    • Stress.

Arrhythmia Symptoms

    However, Arrhythmia may reveal no symptoms; major symptoms of arrhythmia include:

    • Shortness of breath;
    • Fainting;
    • Blurred vision;
    • Chest pain;
    • Fatigue;
    • Sweating;
    • Dizziness.

Congenital Heart Defect is a structural problem in the heart that occurs during pregnancy and the baby is born with and affects the baby’s heart functions.

Congenital Heart Defect Types

    There are different types of congenital heart defect including:

    • Septal Defects

    Septal defects refer to a hole in the heart. Imagine the heart is like a house including 4 rooms, the two upper rooms are called atrial and ventricular is the name given to the other two lower ones. Both parts are divided by a wall named as “atrial wall or atrial septum” and “ventricular wall or ventricular septum”, respectively. Ventricular septal defect and atrial septal defect are considered the most common congenital heart defects. We discuss them as following.

    The right side of the heart is responsible for pumping oxygen-poor blood from heart to the lungs, and the left side pumps oxygen-rich blood to the body. In ventricular septal defect, also known as VSD, there is a hole in the ventricular wall making the blood flows from the left side to the right. So the oxygen-rich blood goes back to the lungs and the heart encounters a problem.

    Atrial septal defect or ASD is caused by the hole in the Atrial septum. The oxygen-rich blood, with the red color go to the left atrium from the lungs to pass into the left ventricle and then pumps through the body in the normal cycle. However, the atrial septal defect causes the oxygen-rich blood mixes with the oxygen-poor blood which is blue and coming from the body to the heart in the right atrium. The atrial septal defect is observed in a small percentage in comparison with ventricular septal defect. Girls suffers from atrial septal defects twice more than boys.

    • Obstructive Heart Defects (OHDs)

    In the obstructive heart defects (OHDs), the heart valves, arteries, or veins are abnormally narrowed or blocked. OHDs includes different subtypes such as:

    Coarctation of the Aorta (CoA): it is about the obstruction or narrowness of the aorta that makes the blood not able to flow through the body and the high blood pressure will happen.

    Aortic Stenosis (AS): when Aortic stenosis occurs, the left ventricle and the aorta cannot connect to each other because the aortic valve is narrowed. So, the heart will encounter the problem of pumping the blood.

    Bicuspid Aortic Valve: it describes a disease that the aortic valve consists of only two flaps instead of three. The blood will go through the body more difficult than before if the valve gets narrowed.

    Subaortic Stenosis: the problem is related to the narrowing of the left ventricle located under the aortic valve. The blood goes through it to reach the aorta in normal condition. The blood flow will be limited in the subaortic stenosis and the left ventricle will encounter an increased workload.

    • Cyanotic Congenital Heart Defects

    Cyanotic defects refer to the problem that the amount of oxygen of the blood is less than the normal condition and the heart does not pump the enough oxygen through the body that affects the color of skin, mostly it will be in the blue color and the infants were born with these defects are called “blue babies”. The most important types of cyanotic defects include Tricuspid atresia, Transposition of the great arteries (TGA), Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), etc.

    • Angina Pectoris or Stable Angina

    In the angina pectoris, the patient experiences a chest pain or discomfort temporarily. It occurs if the heart does not receive enough oxygen which is mostly due to the narrowed heart arteries. Angina pectoris includes two types: the stable angina and unstable one. The stable angina which is the most common type happens through the physical activity. It mostly takes a short time about some minutes if the activity is stopped. The unstable angina usually occurs through the rest time. It usually lasts longer with the symptoms that can be more severe and it is considered the less common type.

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