Cardiac or Cardiovascular diseases are a group of disorders that affect the structure and functions of the heart. According to the World Health Organization, cardiac disorders accounted for 31% of the global death toll in 2016 making them the number 1 cause of death in the world. ‘
The human heart pumps blood throughout the body using the circulatory system and supplies oxygen and nutrients to the tissues. It also removes carbon dioxide and other waste products from the tissues.
Parameters for Judging the Health of a Human Heart
The functioning of the human heart can be judged by various parameters. The two most important ones are:
Blood Pressure: The pressure of the blood in the circulatory system is known as blood pressure. It has two components which are systolic pressure and diastolic pressure.
The ideal blood pressure in humans in 120mm Hg for Systolic and 80mm Hg for Diastolic. Change in one of the two levels is also a cause for concern.
Heart Rate: It is defined as the number of times the heart beats in one minute. Heart rate is used to determine the efficiency of the heart.
The ideal heart rate is between 60 to 100 beats per minute.
Credits: Pixabay Caption: Blood pressure is a measure of cardiac health.
What is Resting Heart Rate?
Another term which is commonly associated with the human heart is resting heart rate. It is the number of times a human heart beats per minute while the individual is at rest.
Physical activity can increase the heart rate significantly.
The most prevalent cardiac disorders:
An Arrhythmia is defined as a condition in which the heart beats irregularly. In this, the heartbeat can go up or down.
It is caused by interruptions in the electrical impulses that stimulate heart contractions. The factors which can cause arrhythmia and high pulse rate:
Elevated blood pressure.
Types of Arrhythmia:
Bradycardia: A condition in which the heartbeat is slower than normal.
Tachycardia or High Pulse Rate: The heartbeat is elevated. The causes of high pulse rate can be anaemia, smoking, exercise, fever and hyperthyroidism.
Ventricular Fibrillation: In this condition, the ventricles decrease blood pumping and results in a fluttering rhythm.
Atrial Fibrillation: This is the irregular beating of the atrial chambers.
Long QT Syndrome: A heart rhythm disorder which has been linked to the genetic susceptibility of certain medications
Credits: Pixabay Caption: Heart rhythm as measured by an ECG machine.
Arrhythmia and High Pulse Rate Treatment
The treatment depends upon the severity and frequency of the Arrhythmia. If the frequency or intensity is high then they can result in life-threatening consequences.
Treatment options include:
Pacemaker: A pacemaker is a device which uses electrical impulses to control irregular rhythms. It is surgically placed under the skin of the chest or abdomen.
Credits: Pixabay Caption: A pacemaker is surgically placed inside a patient.
Ablation Therapy: A catheter is inserted surgically into the inner heart. The goal of the catheter is to destroy small sections of damaged tissues.
Surgery: Various surgeries can be used depending on the cause.
Antiarrhythmic Drugs: Calcium Channel Blockers and Beta Blockers can be used to treat the disease.
Congenital Heart Disease
It is a defect in the structure of the heart that is present at birth. Statistically, 8 in 1000 babies have it. The cause of congenital heart disease is not known. However, it is speculated that the most probable cause would be genetic.
Symptoms in Newborns
Bluish lips, skin and fingers
Low Birth Weight
Difficulty in Feeding
Abnormal Heart Rhythms
The treatment focuses on fixing the defect. The following types of procedures can be done:
Open Heart Surgery
Implantation of Devices
It is a condition in which the heart muscle weakens and cannot pump blood. It is also referred to as an enlarged heart because the heart muscles are bigger. This enlargement results in reduced efficiency and causes problems.
Types of Cardiomyopathy
Dilated Cardiomyopathy: In this condition, the heart muscle is too weak to pump blood which results in the muscles becoming thinner.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: In this condition, the heart walls become thicker and reduce efficiency in pumping.
Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia: This is a rare disease in which the muscle of the right ventricle is replaced by fat and fibrous tissue.
Peripartum Cardiomyopathy: In some cases, during or after pregnancy, the heart weakens and becomes too weak to pump blood. It is a life-threatening condition.
The treatment for cardiomyopathy is not known. Symptomatic treatment is prescribed to patients suffering from breathlessness and chest pain.
In this condition, the blood flow to the heart is blocked and it results in the death of a part of the heart muscle. It is estimated that 80% of cardiac disorder related deaths are due to heart attacks.
The symptoms of a heart attack are different in men and women,
Symptoms of Heart Attack in Both Women and Men
Shortness of Breath
Pain in Neck, Arm and Jaw
Symptoms of Heart Attack in Women
These symptoms are more likely to persist in women.
Recurring Discomfort in Chest.
Sense of impending doom.
Treatment of Heart Attack
Immediate medical help is required to treat a heart attack. The following types of medications are used:
ACE Inhibitors: Benzapril, Captopril
Diuretics: Furosemide, Metolazone
Beta-blockers: Esmolol, Atenolol
Statins: Atorvastatin, Lovastatin
Antiplatelet Drugs: Ticlodipine, Terutoban
Anticoagulants: Warfarin, Edoxaban
Coronary Artery Disease or Coronary Heart Disease
It is a condition in which the arteries become narrow or completely blocked by a process called Atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is the clogging of arteries due to the buildup of cholesterol and fatty deposits on the inside of the arteries. This results in restricted blood flow.
The treatment primarily focuses on lifestyle changes which include weight loss and eating healthy foods. The medications which can be used are:
When a blood vessel ruptures and blocks the blood supply to the bran the condition is known as a stroke. It is a very serious condition and requires emergency treatment.
The rupture blocks the blood and oxygen to reach the brain and the brain cells start dying immediately.
Symptoms of a Stroke
Numbness in the Body
Sudden Behavioural Change
Shortness of Breath
Types, Causes and Treatment of a Stroke
The cause of a stroke depends on its type.
Transient Ischemic Stroke: This occurs when the blood flow to the brain is stopped.
It is caused by a blockage which is usually in the clot in the artery that supplies blood to the brain.
The treatment involves the removal of the blood clot. This can be done through:
Hemorrhagic Stroke: This type of stroke results in haemorrhaging of the brain because of an increase in the pressure inside the brain.
When an artery in the brain bursts or leaks blood, the pressure inside the brain increases. This leads to swelling which damages the brain cells and tissues.
It can also be caused by an aneurysm in the brain,
The treatment of hemorrhagic stroke requires surgery to relieve pressure on the brain Supplemental therapy of medication which to reduce the pressure can also be given.
7. Heart Valve Diseases
These are the conditions in which one or more heart valves do not function properly.
Mitral Valve Prolapse: The improper closure of the valve between the upper and lower left chamber of the heart.
Pericarditis: Swelling in the lining surrounding the heart due to an infection.
Rheumatic Heart Disease: In this condition, rheumatic fever damages the valves of the heart.
Aortic Stenosis: The narrowing of the aortic valve.
There are no treatments available for heart valve diseases. However, surgical options are being explored. It is believed that lifestyle changes can also be helpful.
Diagnosis of Cardiac Diseases
In addition to blood pressure and heart rate monitoring, the following diagnostic tests can be used to diagnose various cardiac diseases:
ECG or Electrocardiogram: An ECG can detect irregularities in the heart’s rhythm and structure.
Stress Test: This test involves raising your heart rate and measuring physical output.
Cardiac CT Scan: A specialised CT Scan to diagnose heart problems.
Credits: Pixabay Caption: A patient undergoing a cardiac CT Scan.
Holter Monitor: It is a device that records continuous ECG for a designated period. The period usually lasts for 24-72 hours.
Cardiac MRI: This is a specialized version of an MRI which focuses on the cardiovascular system.
Prevention of Cardiac Diseases
Although all cardiac diseases cannot be prevented, some of them can be. The following practices can reduce the risk of cardiac diseases:
Physical Activity: Physical activity is very important to stay healthy. It is recommended to have at least 30-60 minutes of physical activity daily to reduce the risk of cardiac diseases.
Credits: Pixabay Caption: Daily physical activity can reduce the risk of cardiac diseases
Managing Weight: Being overweight significantly increases the chances of developing cardiac diseases.
A Healthy Diet: Eating healthy food can improve cholesterol, blood pressure, maintain weight and reduce the risk of various other diseases. Low cholesterol and low sugar diets are advised.
Stress Management: Stress can cause cardiac diseases. Stress management is an essential part of preventing cardiac diseases.
Decreasing smoking and Alcohol Intake: Smoking and alcohol have been linked with increased rates of cardiac diseases. They can significantly damage the heart.
Regular Checkups: Get regular checkups so that any cardiac diseases can be caught early.
Cardiac diseases are a major cause of concern. Some cardiac diseases have a wide variety of treatment options while others have none. If you observe any symptoms of cardiac diseases then seek medical help. Cardiac health is very important. Prevention techniques can reduce the risk of cardiac diseases and they should be followed.