Heart health: Tips for keeping your heart healthy

The blood tests are done to determine other causes that could mimic heart failure like anaemia, kidney failure, liver failure and thyroid problems.

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Heart Attack
Picture: Pixabay

Last Updated on January 15, 2022 by The Health Master

Heart health: Tips for keeping your heart healthy

BENGALURU: The heart is a muscular pump and its function is to pump blood to all parts of the body, including the vital organs like brain, kidneys, etc.

When the heart fails to deliver enough blood supply to these vital organs, it is termed heart failure.

Common symptoms are difficulty in breathing on walking or other activities, swelling in the legs or abdomen, fatigue and lack of energy.

Who can suffer a heart failure?

Heart failure usually occurs in patients with a previous history of heart attacks, angioplasty, or coronary artery bypass grafting.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure and diabetes for a long time can also result in heart failure.

Heart failure can also occur in young patients following a viral illness and this is termed as viral myocarditis or in patients with rheumatic heart disease (valvular disease causing heart failure).

Common tests done for diagnosis 

Doctors usually perform an ECG, an echocardiogram, and blood tests.

The echocardiogram is an ultrasound examination of the heart and helps the doctor to determine the functional capacity of the heart (which is usually expressed as left ventricular ejection fraction) and also the functioning of the different valves in the heart (Mitral, aortic, tricuspid and pulmonary).

The blood tests are done to determine other causes that could mimic heart failure like anaemia, kidney failure, liver failure and thyroid problems.

After heart failure is diagnosed, the doctor may consider doing a coronary angiogram to look for blockages in the heart arteries as the cause of the heart failure.

Treatment 

The doctor will prescribe medications to get rid of excess fluid (diuretics or water tablets) and other medications to help the recovery of heart function (ACE inhibitors, AT2 antagonists, and beta blockers).

The doctor will consider treatment of the cause of heart failure. This may include coronary angioplasty, coronary artery bypass grafting and valve replacement.

There are also special kind of pacemakers (cardiac resynchronisation therapy), which can improve symptoms and prognosis in patients.

In extreme cases, left ventricular assist devices and heart transplantation will be considered.

What should patients do to help themselves?

  • Patients should exercise regularly after consultation with the doctor.
  • Reduce salt intake 
  • Restrict the amount of fluid intake per day as suggested by the doctor.
  • Regularly follow up with the doctor to ensure there has not been any deterioration in heart function.
  • Seek urgent medical help if symptoms worsen.

What is the prognosis?

The prognosis of heart failure can be worse than some cancers.

It is very important to ensure that patients take prompt treatment and follow the advice of their doctor in order to improve their outlook in the long term.

(The writer is a senior interventional cardiologist, Kauvery Hospitals Electronic City)

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