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Heart Failure Tips

Heart Transplant - When Should One Go For It?

Heart Transplant - When Should One Go For It?

A heart transplant is an operation in which a failing, diseased heart is replaced with a healthier, donor heart. Heart transplant is a treatment that's usually reserved for people who have tried medications or other surgeries, but their conditions haven't sufficiently improved.

While a heart transplant is a major operation, your chance of survival is good, with appropriate follow-up care.

When faced with a decision about having a heart transplant, know what to expect of the heart transplant process, the surgery itself, potential risks and follow-up care.

Why is it done?

Heart transplants are performed when other treatments for heart problems haven't worked, leading to heart failure. In adults, heart failure can be caused by several conditions, including:

  1. A weakening of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)
  2. Coronary artery disease
  3. Heart valve disease
  4. A heart problem you're born with (congenital heart defect)
  5. Dangerous recurring abnormal heart rhythms (ventricular arrhythmias) not controlled by other treatments
  6. Amyloidosis
  7. Failure of a previous heart transplant
  8. In children, heart failure is most often caused by either a congenital heart defect or a cardiomyopathy.

Another organ transplant may be performed at the same time as a heart transplant (multiorgan transplant) in people with certain conditions at select medical centers. Multiorgan transplants include:

  1. Heart-kidney transplant. This procedure may be an option for some people with kidney failure in addition to heart failure.
  2. Heart-liver transplant. This procedure may be an option for people with certain liver and heart conditions.
  3. Heart-lung transplant. Rarely, doctors may suggest this procedure for some people with severe lung and heart diseases, if the conditions aren't able to be treated by only a heart transplant or lung transplant.

Factors that may affect your eligibility for a heart transplant:

A heart transplant isn't the right treatment for everyone. Certain factors may mean you're not a good candidate for a heart transplant. While each case is considered individually by a transplant center, a heart transplant may not be appropriate if you:

  1. Are an advanced age that would interfere with the ability to recover from transplant surgery
  2. Have another medical condition that could shorten your life, regardless of receiving a donor heart, such as a serious kidney, liver or lung disease
  3. Have an active infection
  4. Have a recent personal medical history of cancer
  5. Are unwilling or unable to make lifestyle changes necessary to keep your donor heart healthy, such as not drinking alcohol or not smoking

What happens after the transplant?

Most people leave hospital within about four weeks of the operation, but depending on your condition, you may need to stay in hospital for longer.

In the first few months after your surgery you will need to spend a lot of time visiting the hospital – you might even need to stay near the transplant centre. Your transplant team will talk to you about practical arrangements for after your surgery.

Although you will be weak after the operation, recovery can be very quick. It is important to build up your level of activity gradually. You should avoid activities involving lifting and pushing until your breastbone is fully healed, which can take up to three or four months.

Once you feel fit and able, you can start doing things like light vacuuming or light gardening.

1041 people found this helpful

Sudden Cardiac Arrest - How To Track It?

Sudden Cardiac Arrest - How To Track It?

Cardiac arrest is reported to be the number one cause of sudden death for people over the age of 40. As it strikes fast and without prior warning, it usually leaves no time for getting help to the patient. Many lives can be saved if the necessary first aid is given immediately by people who know what to do in case of a cardiac arrest.

So first let us know about the signs of a cardiac arrest:

  1. Loss of consciousness: A person may feel dizzy, sweat, faint or collapse suddenly. You can tell if someone has just fainted and not had a cardiac arrest if they are still breathing or have a pulse.
  2. No breathing
  3. No pulse
  4. Muscle twitching.

Now that you have recognized the signs; here is what you can do:

  1. Call the ambulance and try getting an emergency medical professional to attend to the person.
  2. If professional help isn't available, emergency resuscitation measures must begin. An automated external defibrillator (AED) can rapidly determine whether the person has an abnormal heart rhythm that can be treated by an electric shock (called defibrillation). AEDs are available in many public gathering places, such as stadiums and concert halls. An AED is used before calling for help and before attempting cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) because an AED is more likely to save lives. If the AED detects ventricular fibrillation, it provides an electrical shock (defibrillation) that can restore normal heart rhythm and start the heart beating again. Emergency medical care should be obtained even if the heart has started beating again. If a person remains in cardiac arrest after an AED is used, CPR should be done.
  3. If a person remains in cardiac arrest after an AED is used, other measures are begun, such as opening the airway and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  4. CPR combines artificial respiration (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, or rescue breathing) to supply oxygen to the lungs with chest compressions, which circulate oxygen to the brain and other vital organs by forcing blood out of the heart.

To do CPR (artificial respiration), the rescuer's mouth covers the person's mouth and then rescuer slowly exhales air into the person's lungs (rescue breaths). The person's airway must remain opened during artificial respiration. To prevent air from escaping from the person's nose, the person's nose can be pinched shut as the rescuer exhales into the mouth.

Talk to your doctor to find out if you are at risk of a cardiac arrest.

1551 people found this helpful

Heart Problem - How Alcohol Can Impact It?

Heart Problem - How Alcohol Can Impact It?

You must have heard this very often that drinking alcohol can lead to heart problems or even a heart attack, but you might not be sure how this is exactly explained. There is no doubt that consuming anything in excess can lead to serious health issues. Interestingly experts invariably mention that a drink or two every day keeps your heart healthy and can even prevent a stroke from occurring. So how does this gel with the conclusion that alcohol is not good for your heart? 

It starts with pre-existing conditions
Before one even considers this question of excessive alcohol consumption, the more critical issue is there are certain categories of people who should not go anywhere near a bottle of the liquor. These are:

  • Diabetics
  • Those with known conditions of high BP
  • People who have already suffered strokes or have heart-related issues
  • Those having high triglycerides and also
  • Those already consuming certain medications for any condition not related to above
  • You can add pregnant women to this as well as people who are already obese.

In the case of these people, the risk of alcohol consumption is high and as far as possible they should avoid drinking any alcoholic liquor. The difficulty that arises in most cases is people may not be aware that they could be carrying some of these conditions and they would be merrily enjoying their evening drinks or even a weekend binge. These could be quite dangerous for their health. In the last category listed above, alcohol might react adversely with some drugs and if the person is taking the drugs regularly, it puts him/her directly in the line of risk of heart failure.

The effect of alcohol on your system
The chemistry part of this is explained that alcohol can directly impact the individual’s blood pressure. It tends to increase as the person keeps drinking over and over. Simultaneously there is an increase in certain fats in the bloodstream. Indirectly, this fat could lead to obesity and that could precipitate disorders like diabetes.

Apart from this, there is sufficient evidence to link excessive drinking to life-threatening diseases like cancer, peptic ulcers and serious deficiencies in the liver that can lead to fatality. So from every perspective, consumption of alcohol of any concentration, meaning whether it is beer or wine or the harder forms like whisky and rum, the risk to the heart is real and for those with prior conditions, the damage to the health could only get hastened.

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Urea Level - How To Reduce It In The Blood?

Urea Level - How To Reduce It In The Blood?

All healthy individuals will always have some amount of urea in the blood. Yet, when the urea level in the blood becomes too high, that means there is a malfunction in some part of the body due to which the body is not being able to remove this excess urea successfully. This urea can be formed in the liver when there is a process in terms of the protein metabolism's chemical balance. This urea is then transported to various parts of the body until the kidney cleans it out as urine. But when this urea does not get cleaned out properly, the urea gets concentrated in the blood and signifies a problem with the kidneys and other internal organs as well as the blood flow to the kidneys. The cause may include burns, heart failure, renal artery embolism, vomiting and lose motions as well as more serious ailments like Diabetes. This can lead to long term kidney damage and symptoms like thirst, fluid retention, headaches, fatigue, dizzy spells, accelerated pulse, restlessness in limbs, pain in the abdomen and more. Here are the best ways to reduce blood urea levels in a natural manner.

- Herbal Medicines: Ayurveda is an ancient science that can be used for the benefit of many patients suffering from chronic and painful ailments like diabetes, kidney failure, cardiovascular ailments and more. One of the mainstays of Ayurveda includes the use of herbs to create medicines and concoctions that will help in giving relief with their 100% natural elements. Medicines like Mutrakrichantak Churna, Punarnava Mandur, Varunadi Vati and many others can be used to avoid dialysis and bring down the urea levels in the blood by aiding better functioning of the kidneys. 

- Punarnava: The name of this herb has been derived from two words - Puna and Nava. While Puna means again, Nava means new and together they help in renewed functioning of the organ that they treat. 

This herb helps in flushing out the excess fluid in the kidneys by reducing the swelling without any side effects. This herb is basically a kind of hogweed. 

- Varun: This is the common caper which can be used to break down the stones present in the renal region and even as a cure for urinary tract infection. This herb helps in removing any element that may be obstructing the urinary tract and finally removes the excess fluid build up and inflammation.

- Gokshur: This is a diuretic that can be used as a herbal tonic to give strength to the weak kidney cells for regeneration.

Hygrophilia auriculata: It is an important drug to reduce the uric acid quantity in blood.

Other aspects of Ayurvedic treatment for this condition include proper protein intake and better hydration along with massages and Yogic postures.

2486 people found this helpful

Congestive Heart Failure - How To Get Rid Of It?

Congestive Heart Failure - How To Get Rid Of It?

Congestive heart failure is a chronic progressive condition that affects the pumping power of your heart muscles. Simply referred to as heart failure, congestive heart failure can be life-threatening. It does not mean that the heart has stopped working. Rather, it means that the heart pumping power is weaker than normal. As a result, the heart cannot pump enough oxygen and nutrients to meet the body’s needs. Over a period of time, the reduced ability of the heart causes the organs to receive less amount of oxygenated blood.

Signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure: In the early stages of congestive heart failure, you most likely won’t notice any changes in your health. If your condition progresses, you will experience gradual changes in your body. The hallmark and the most common symptom of congestive heart failure is shortness of breath and it may occur while you are at rest, doing any activity that exerts your body, when you are lying flat or while getting up from sleep. Some of the other most common symptoms of congestive heart failure include a persistent and unexplained cough, swelling in the legs, ankles, abdomen, or hands, tiredness, changes in thinking and memory, nausea, rapid heart rate, and dizziness or light-headedness.

Causes of congestive heart failure: Congestive heart failure is most likely to occur in people who have other conditions that weaken the heart. The risk also increases by several lifestyle factors that are bad for the heart. Risk factors for congestive heart failure include congenital heart defects, high blood pressure or cholesterol, obesity, asthma, chronic pulmonary disease, coronary heart disease, heart infection, reduced kidney function, a history of heart attack, irregular heart rhythms, abuse of alcohol and drugs, smoking, and old age. Though there are over a hundred other less common causes of heart failure, the exact cause of congestive heart failure is often idiopathic or unknown. Congestive heart failure might also exacerbate by unhealthy lifestyle habits. Specific habits such as smoking, excessive use of alcohol, obesity, lack of exercise, high salt intake, noncompliance with medications, and other therapies may increase the risk of congestive heart failure.

Diagnosis of congestive heart failure: A doctor or cardiologist will perform a physical exam. This may involve listening to the heart for abnormal heart rhythm. Some common tests that are done to help with the diagnosis of congestive heart failure include an electrocardiogram, chest X-ray, series of blood tests, echocardiography, stress test, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and cardiac catheterization.

Treatment of congestive heart failure: The goal of treatment for congestive heart failure is to have the heart beat more efficiently so that it can meet the energy needs of the body. Specific treatment depends upon the underlying cause of heart failure. You and your doctor may consider different treatment, depending on your overall health and how far your condition has progressed. There are several medications that can be used to treat congestive heart failure. ACE inhibitors open up narrowed blood vessels to improve blood flow. Vasodilators are another option if you cannot tolerate ACE inhibitors. Beta blockers can reduce blood pressure and slow rapid heart rhythm. Diuretics reduce your body’s fluid content. Surgery such as angioplasty is recommended if medications are not effective on their own.

3337 people found this helpful

Heart Failure - Know The Causes Of It!

Heart Failure - Know The Causes Of It!

The heart is a vital organ that pumps blood throughout the body, thereby supplying the body with the essential nutrients and oxygen while removing the harmful toxins and wastes. Certain conditions may interfere with the ability of the heart to pump blood (there could be clogging in one of the artery or arteries). Devoid of blood and the essential nutrients, the other vital organs soon start to falter. In fact, reduced supply of oxygen and blood to the brain can prove to be fatal, triggering loss of consciousness and even coma.

It is quite disturbing to know that as per a survey, nearly 50 million Americans suffer from heart failure, with men being more susceptible than their female counterparts. In some cases, such as a Congestive Heart Failure, the blood may move back into the liver, abdomen, lungs or the lower extremities, thereby congesting the organs. Depending on the extent of the damage, heart failure can be chronic (often lasts for a longer time) or acute. Some of the conditions that trigger heart failure are irreversible, making the situation even worse.

Factors that trigger heart failure:

For an effective treatment, it is important to know the underlying factors, both reversible as well as irreversible, responsible for heart failure.

  1. Coronary artery disease: This is believed to be the major contributor, triggering heart failure. Here, the arteries responsible for supplying the heart with blood and oxygen may become damaged. There may be a blockage. The artery may also narrow down or become hardened (a condition referred to as atherosclerosis). As a result, the heart will receive a reduced flow of oxygen and blood, causing heart failure.
     
  2. Cardiomyopathy: A condition resulting from unhealthy lifestyle practices such as drug abuse as well as uncontrolled drinking and smoking. These unhealthy habits will sooner or later wreak havoc, damaging the heart muscles, with heart failure being an obvious consequence. Cardiomyopathy can also be an outcome of some infections.
     
  3. A heart attack: In some cases, heart failure may be triggered by a heart attack. A heart attack can damage the heart muscles which, in turn, can affect the normal functioning of the heart to a great extent.
     
  4. Hypertension: There is a striking relationship between heart failure and high blood pressure. High blood pressure may turn the heart muscles rigid and weak. Thus, the heart may fail to pump the blood as precisely as it should be. With time, the condition will only worsen with the possible outcome being heart failure.
     
  5. Myocarditis: This is a virus-induced inflammation of the heart muscles. Myocarditis is known to cause a heart failure of the left side (left-sided heart failure).
     
  6. In addition to the above conditions, Congenital heart disorders, Diabetes, Thyroid problems, HIV, or Heart arrhythmias, to name a few, can also lead to heart failure.
1433 people found this helpful

Heart Failure - Ways To Treat It!

Heart Failure - Ways To Treat It!

Heart failure, which is also known as congestive heart failure, occurs when the heart muscle fails to pump sufficient blood as well as it should. The narrowed arteries in one’s heart or high blood pressure make the heart too weak to pump sufficient blood into the system. Heart failure can be prevented if people are aware of how to keep a check on the conditions which cause failure of the heart, like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity.

Symptoms

Heart failure can be of two types, either chronic, which is an ongoing one or acute, one which starts suddenly.  The signs and symptoms may include:

  • Dyspnea, which refers to the shortness of breath when a person exerts himself too much.

  • There can be fatigue and weakness.

  • There could be noticeable swelling in the legs, ankles and feet.

  • A person may not be able to do his exercises on a regular basis.

  • You can feel the need to urinate at night more often.

  • As fluid gets retained in the system, that results in rapid weight gain.

  • Chest pain can also take place, in case heart failure is caused as a result of heart attack.

Causes Behind Heart Failure

Heart failure can occur after certain conditions have led to the damage or weakening of the heart. Even when the heart becomes too stiff, that can lead to failure of the heart.  This situation involve the left side of the heart, right side or even both the sides but usually heart failure begins with the left side, especially the left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber. Some of the most common causes behind heart failure are discussed below:

  • Heart attack and coronary artery disease: The most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease, which is also the primary reason behind heart failure. The disease comes up from the build up of fatty deposits in the arteries, which lead to the reduction of blood flow, hence resulting in heart attack.

  • High Blood Pressure: Heart has to work harder to circulate blood throughout the body, if the rate of blood pressure is high.

  • Faulty heart valves: The valves of the heart help to keep blood flowing the proper direction. Now, when the valves get damaged due to heart attack, it forces the heart to put extra effort, hence leading to weakening of the valves over time.

  • Heart Arrhythmias: If the heart rhythms are abnormal, causing the heart to beat too fast, can in turn lead to heart failure.

Treatment

Treatment can take certain forms, which can help people live longer and stay healthy. The different forms of treatment could be through medications, wherein medicines like enalapril, lisinopril, losartan, valsartan could help widen blood vessels and hence lead to lowering of blood pressure, thus improving blood flow.

Inravenous medications like inotropes can help improve the heart pumping function and keep a check on blood pressure.

Other than medications, doctors could take the help of coronary bypass surgery to allow smooth flow of blood through the heart. They could even make a patient undergo heart valve replacement, wherein excess valve tissue is removed and hence the leaflets can close tightly.

6169 people found this helpful

Blockages In Heart Arteries - What Should You Know?

Blockages In Heart Arteries - What Should You Know?

Blockage in heart is a common term used for narrowing of coronary arteries. Coronary arteries are vessels, which supply blood and thus oxygen and food to continuously working heart muscles. Heart muscles, which are not tired working from the birth till death, however, cannot sustain long without blood supply.

A reduction in blood supply gives rise to ischemia of heart muscles commonly manifested as chest discomfort or angina. A sudden complete shutdown of blood supply leads to heart attack leading to permanent damage to heart (if blood flow not reestablished promptly).

But what causes these arteries to block? Deposition of LDL cholesterol (low density cholesterol) in inner surface of coronary arteries is the primary reason of these blockages. LDL a normal component of blood (upto certain limit) starts depositing in arteries as early as 10 years of age!

Deposition of billions of LDL molecules over several years on inner surface of arteries gives rise to visible narrowings in these arteries. Flow ahead of these narrowings is reduced in proportion to the narrowing. At a level of 70 % narrowing the flow is reduced to give ischemia (and angina) during exercise. Gradually increasing degree of narrowing reduces the exercise needed for ischemia and angina; a narrowing of more than 90 % can give symptoms at rest. A sudden clot formation at any of these stages can block the flow suddenly giving a heart attack.

If LDL is a normal component of blood, why it is deposited in the arteries at first place?
LDL above a certain limit in blood starts depositing in the arteries. DiabetesHypertensionsmoking, less exercise and genetics makes it more sticky thus making narrowing faster. This is why these risk elements need to be properly attended for prevention from heart disease.

For treatment medicines are important for stopping the progression of narrowings; angioplasty is a method of fast resolution of blockage; and bypass surgery is the method of creating a whole new blood supply for the affected part of the heart.

1 person found this helpful

Sudden Cardiac Arrest - Is It Preventable?

Sudden Cardiac Arrest - Is It Preventable?

Cardiac arrest is reported to be the number one cause of sudden death for people over the age of 40. As it strikes fast and without prior warning, it usually leaves no time for getting help to the patient. Many lives can be saved if the necessary first aid is given immediately by people who know what to do in case of a cardiac arrest.

So first let us know about the signs of a cardiac arrest:

  1. Loss of consciousness: A person may feel dizzy, sweat, faint or collapse suddenly. You can tell if someone has just fainted and not had a cardiac arrest if they are still breathing or have a pulse.
  2. No breathing
  3. No pulse
  4. Muscle twitching.

Now that you have recognized the signs; here is what you can do:

  1. Call the ambulance and try getting an emergency medical professional to attend to the person.
  2. If professional help isn't available, emergency resuscitation measures must begin. An automated external defibrillator (AED) can rapidly determine whether the person has an abnormal heart rhythm that can be treated by an electric shock (called defibrillation). AEDs are available in many public gathering places, such as stadiums and concert halls. An AED is used before calling for help and before attempting cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) because an AED is more likely to save lives. If the AED detects ventricular fibrillation, it provides an electrical shock (defibrillation) that can restore normal heart rhythm and start the heart beating again. Emergency medical care should be obtained even if the heart has started beating again. If a person remains in cardiac arrest after an AED is used, CPR should be done.
  3. If a person remains in cardiac arrest after an AED is used, other measures are begun, such as opening the airway and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  4. CPR combines artificial respiration (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, or rescue breathing) to supply oxygen to the lungs with chest compressions, which circulate oxygen to the brain and other vital organs by forcing blood out of the heart.

To do CPR (artificial respiration), the rescuer's mouth covers the person's mouth and then rescuer slowly exhales air into the person's lungs (rescue breaths). The person's airway must remain opened during artificial respiration. To prevent air from escaping from the person's nose, the person's nose can be pinched shut as the rescuer exhales into the mouth.

Talk to your doctor to find out if you are at risk of a cardiac arrest.

4203 people found this helpful

Left Ventricular Assist Device - How Can It Affect Your Lifestyle?

Left Ventricular Assist Device - How Can It Affect Your Lifestyle?

A left ventricular assist device is an electromechanical device used in cases of advanced heart failure. In later stages of heart failure when the heart is weakened and no longer able to pump the necessary amount of blood, a left ventricular assist device can be surgically implanted to assist the heart’s functions.

A left ventricular assist device is often used as a short term solution and is different from a pacemaker, which is a long term cardiac assist device. The cases in which a left ventricular assist device is often used are:

  • As a temporary solution while a cardiac failure patient is on a transplant list or otherwise waiting for a heart transplant.
  • During recovery from cardiac surgery when the heart is not strong enough to function on its own. The device would soon be removed as the patient recovers.
  • During recovery from heart attacks

Having a left ventricular assist device implanted gives the heart time to rest and recover, leading you to the point where your heart can go back to functioning on its own. However, there are cases where a left ventricular assist device can be implanted as a long term solution. This treatment is called Destination Therapy and requires implanting a left ventricular assist device for several months or several years.

How does a Left Ventricular Assist Device works?
A Left Ventricular Assist Device can only be surgically implanted. It has both internal and external components with a pump attached to your heart and a controller on the outside of the body. The pump is attached to the heart with a tube that directs blood into the aorta. The pump and the controller are connected through a cable called the driveline. Since the Left Ventricular Assist Device is powered by electricity or batteries, a power source is also worn outside the body and is attached to the controller, powering both the controller and the pump.

How a Left Ventricular Assist Device can affect your lifestyle?
Many people around the world have Left Ventricular Assist Devices implanted on both a temporary and permanent basis. While a person should be resting while recovering from a heart attack or cardiac surgery, it is possible to go about your normal daily life whilst having a Left Ventricular Assist Device implanted. While certain exercises and stress should be avoided when having a heart condition or when implanted with a Left Ventricular Assist Device, with carrying cases for power sources and controller that can operate from various different power sources, it is easy to live a normal productive life.

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