What is the treatment?
Chest ache is a sudden sharp, piercing pain which often heralds the signs of a serious heart-related issue. Chest pain could vary depending on the intensity, duration, location and quality. Aside from heart attack which occurs due to blocked blood flow, chest pain could also be a cause of various other heart related disorders. These are- angina, which occurs as a result of blocked blood vessels; pericarditis, swelling of the pericardium sac membrane encircling the heart; myocarditis, swelling of the myocardium heart muscle; cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart that causes it to become enlarged; aortic dissection, tearing of the aorta. Chest pain can also be caused as a result of heartburn, esophagus disorders, pneumonia, blood clot, chronic pain and the inflammation of the pancreas.
The treatment for chest pain includes both surgical procedures as well as taking of medications such as nitroglycerine (which is an artery relaxer, that enables the blood to flow more easily through these narrow spaces), aspirin, drugs that help to bust clots (these drugs dissolve the clot that is inhibiting the blood flow to the heart), blood thinners, acid suppressing medications and antidepressants. The surgical procedures include angioplasty, balloon and stent placement treatment. All of these methods open the blocked blood vessels after a narrow tube is inserted into the largest blood vessel in the groin region. Other procedures include bypass surgery (in case of a blocked artery this surgical method creates another route for the blood to flow), dissection repair (in case of aortic dissection, this method repairs the ruptured artery carrying the blood) and lung reinflation (this method inflates the lung by inserting a tube).
How is the treatment done?
On experiencing chest pain it is advised that you call for an ambulance or your health care provider. Explain the symptoms, your medical history and the medications that you may be already taking. At the outset you will be required to undergo physical assessment tests that involve doing an ECG (electrocardiogram), some blood tests, Chest X-ray and CT scans to determine whether your chest pain is due to a heart attack. On the basis of the results of these tests you will be required to undergo certain follow up tests such as echocardiogram, computerized tomography (CT scan), stress tests and coronary catheterization (angiogram). At the hospital your caregiver will administer certain drugs (such as aspirin, heparin) to you to arrest the formation of blood clots. These medications prevent the already formed clots from getting any larger. Due to their working nature these drugs are known as anti-coagulants.
During the post-emergency phase depending on the seriousness of the chest pain your doctor will prescribe the medications to you. If you are diagnosed with angina you might be prescribed nitroglycerine. These are nitrates that relax the arteries by allowing more blood to flow and also help to reduce the chest ache. When taking this drug you need to dissolve one tablet under the tongue or use a spray.
Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)
People who suffer from chest ache and are within the age group of 45-65 years are eligible for treatment of chest pain which includes taking medications and other surgical procedures.
Who is not eligible for the treatment?
Those who are below 45 years and above 65 years should take caution when undergoing treatment for chest pain. Also people who are allergic to certain drugs and especially nitroglycerine should avoid going for this kind of treatment and instead discuss alternatives with your doctor. Also people who are diabetic or those with a weak heart muscle should avoid opting for an angioplasty treatment.
Are there any side effects?
Side effects of taking nitroglycerine include headache, rapid heartbeat, feeling of nausea and vomiting, skin rash and dizziness. Serious side effects include a rapid fall in blood pressure levels.
Angioplasty though effective in reducing the chances of a heart attack does involve some risks. For example people may experience continuous narrowing of the arteries. There is the risk of damaging your coronary arteries, to your kidney. There is risk of having a stroke while undergoing treatment. There is risk of bleeding which may require you to take blood transfusion. There is the risk of blood clots as well as irregular heartbeat.
in case of bypass surgery you may experience reactions such as infection and bleeding at the site of the surgery, fever, stroke or even death and adverse reactions to anaesthesia.
What are the post-treatment guidelines?
There are certain post-treatment guidelines for chest pain. If you have undergone an angioplasty treatment for example, you need to take your medications regularly. Ensure to never stop taking your anti-clotting medicines before discussing with your doctor as these are extremely essential to keep the chances of heart attacks or strokes in check. It is necessary that you go for a physical check-up that comprising of an ECG and some laboratory tests, a week after completing the treatment. You should avoid any high-impact exercises or lifting any heavy objects for at least a month after the treatment. Adopting a healthy lifestyle and diet is also of utmost importance. Should you experience any pain in the chest or any side effects to the medications you are taking you should immediately go see your doctor.
How long does it take to recover?
Post an angioplasty treatment it takes about 4 days for the patient to resume normal activities. Avoid lifting heavy objects for at least 4 weeks after the treatment. You can resume your sexual activities at least 4 days after.
What is the price of the treatment in India?
An angioplasty treatment in India for example could cost you about 2-4 lakh on an average. And if you’re a foreigner looking to treat yourself or anyone you know in India, the cost of angioplasty will be at least 50 % more as compared to an Indian treating himself/herself in India.
Are the results of the treatment permanent?
If you have undergone an angioplasty treatment then the effects of the treatment could last long enough to prevent the chances of a stroke or heart attack for a considerable period of time. However you may experience the narrowing of arteries once again. In certain cases where people adopt a healthy lifestyle then the results of the treatment may be permanent.
What are the alternatives to the treatment?
If you are looking for more natural or herbal options as opposed to medications to treat your chest pain problem then you need to exercise on a more or less regular basis to keep your heart healthy. You should immediately stop the habit of smoking (i.e., if you have it), have a more nutritious diet consisting of fresh onion and garlic, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and fish high in omega 3 fatty acids.