Enlarged Heart

We often hear of an enlarged heart, what does it mean? How does one’s heart get enlarged? And how does it affect our health?

Heart Disease
Heart Disease
Our heart is a pear-shaped muscle pumping oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.
Sometimes due to certain factors, birth defects- congenital heart defects, our heart muscle has to work much harder causing it to enlarge or become bigger in size.
Once the heart becomes enlarged, it is almost impossible to get it back to the original size.Therefore timely detection and management is the key.
Let’s try and explore factors which lead to an enlarged heart, a medical condition, which is impossible to cure but can be managed medically.
  • Congenital heart defects or heart defects one is born with us as PDA, VSD, ASD, Mitral valve defect, left untreated lead to high pulmonary pressures, which in turn lead to thickening of the arterial wall and also an enlarged heart.Though most babies are routinely scanned for congenital heart defects in developed countries, treatment upon detection and early intervention and management still remains the key.Many parents despite detection, are often scared to get surgical interventions without realizing that they are hampering both mental and physical growth and putting children at risk of enlarged heart and other complications later on in life.

 

  • Lifestyle-related complications such as hypertension or high blood pressure also lead to an enlarged heart over a period of time.In case of high blood pressure, the heart has to pump harder to deliver blood to the rest of your body, thereby thickening and enlarging the heart muscle.High blood pressure may also enlarge the upper chambers of the heart, the left ventricle and also weaken the heart long-term.

 

  • Coronary artery disease or CAD (blocked arteries requiring stenting, angioplasty) can also lead to a heart attack. A part of the heart muscle dies during a heart attack, causing the heart muscle to work harder to supply blood to the entire body which over long-term leads to an enlarged heart.

 

  • Abnormal Heart Beat or Arrhythmia is often ignored but may cause an enlarged heart over a period of time.

 

  • Anemia or low level of iron in the body, where the body doesn’t have enough Red Blood Cells to carry blood to the body, leads to rapid, irregular heartbeat causing the heart to pump harder to make up for lack of sufficient oxygen in the blood.Sicklers or patients suffering from sickle cell anemia are at an increased risk and despite hearsay, a Bone Marrow Transplant or a BMT remains the only curative treatment for Sickle Cell Anemia, Thalassemia Major.

 

  • Thyroid disorders, also lead to various heart diseases over a period of time leading to an enlarged heart.
The biggest complications arising from an enlarged heart are heart failure,  SCA or SCD (sudden cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death) or what is known as a silent heart attack in laymen language.
Heart Failure: During heart failure, the heart muscle weakens and the ventricles, stretch or dilate to a point that the heart cannot pump blood efficiently, leading to a sudden cardiac arrest.
Silent heart attack or SCD: An enlarged heart causes the heart rhythm to be so slow that the muscle is unable to move blood or it may cause a heart rhythm, so fast that the muscle is unable to beat properly resulting in sudden death.
More on diagnosis and treatment options in our next post.
Stay tuned in for more.
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Heart Disease -Stuff you must know !

open heart bypass surgery
open heart bypass surgery

Heart disease kills more people than any other disease. Over 30% of deaths across the world are due to heart disease as per WHO estimates.

Ignorance, lack of awareness, refusal to get basic routine checkups, account for the high mortality rate.

Unhealthy dietary habits, alcohol abuse, use of tobacco, lack of exercise, obesity, diabetes, hypertension and genetics are the primary reasons for developing heart disease.

Most cases go undiagnosed till the patient suffers a heart attack.

Here is a list of types of heart disease which we should all know about.

Clogged Arteries: Fat and cholesterol build up in the arteries leads to plaque and mineral deposits which restricts or blocks blood flow to the heart. Usually clogged arteries are not diagnosed unless one gets chest pains or gets breathless. An angiography is often carried out for diagnosis. Stenting or an angioplasty takes of blocked arteries. A surgeon may insert a balloon or a wire mesh to open up your arteries. If the blockage is severe, a CABG or open heart bypass surgery may be required. In CABG, or open hear bypass surgery, blood vessels from other parts of the body are taken and damaged blood vessels of the heart are replaced or bypassed.

Arrhythmia: Irregular heart beat can either be too slow or too fast. Although rarely fatal, arrhythmia increases pre disposition to heart attack, heart failure and even stroke.
An ICD  detects irregular heart beat and send electric impulses to takes care of Arrhythmia.

Hole in the heart :  PDA, VSD, ASD, Mitral Valve Defects,  commonly known as hole in the heart, sometimes congenital heart defects are not diagnosed even till adulthood. Growth milestones may be compromised and problems may persist later in life.
Serious defects require surgical intervention however some can be managed with medical management.

Heart Muscle Disease: Our heart is a muscle which weakens due to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and hence the heart struggles to pump blood in the body.
Heart muscle disease or cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure.

A Pacemaker is implanted to take care of heart muscle disease.

Enlarged Heart: As the heart muscle becomes weak, the heart enlarges in order to pump blood and the rhythm increases. However the heart also becomes weaker and consequently it leads to decreased blood flow.

Heart Attack: Clogged arteries can restrict and even stop blood flow to the heart. Without blood flow, our heart doesn’t get the oxygen required which damages the heart and this is what is known as a heart attack. The more restricted the blood flow, the more life threatening and severe, the heart attack.

Heart Failure: Failure of the heart to pump blood to the body is known as heart failure and this can lead to death.

Without surgical intervention or medical management as may be required, heart disease progresses and even post diagnosis and surgical intervention, drastic life style changes are required for managing the medical condition.

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Are you at a risk of a 2nd heart attack

Once you’ve had a heart attack, you’re at higher risk for another one. Most people are not able to differentiate between an angina and a heart attack pain.

Knowing the difference between angina and a heart attack is important. Angina is chest pain that occurs in people who have Coronary Heart Disease.

The pain from angina usually occurs after physical exertion and goes away in a few minutes when you rest or take medicine as directed.

The pain from a heart attack usually is more severe than the pain from angina. Heart attack pain doesn’t go away when you rest or take medicine.

If you don’t know whether your chest pain is angina or a heart attack, is important to call your doctor right away.

The symptoms of a second heart attack may not be the same as those of a first heart attack so it is important not to take a chance if you’re in doubt.

Unfortunately, most heart attack victims wait 2 hours or more after their symptoms start before they seek medical help. This delay can result in lasting heart damage or death.