You may be surprised to learn that there are several different types of cardiac diseases, and not all of them are the same! Depending on the exact type of cardiac disease you’re dealing with, your doctor will treat it in one of three different ways: with medications, with surgery, or by making lifestyle changes. Let’s discuss each of these three treatment approaches in more detail below.
There are many different types of cardiac diseases, which can be classified based on their cause, symptoms, and treatment. The most common type of cardiac disease is coronary heart disease, which is caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries. Other types of cardiac diseases include congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, and valvular heart disease. Depending on the type of cardiac disease, treatment may involve lifestyle changes, medication, surgery, or a combination of these. For example, hypertension is usually treated with medications while other cardiovascular problems such as congestive heart failure are typically treated with a variety of treatments. If you suspect that you have a cardiac problem, it is important to visit your doctor so they can properly diagnose and treat it. When you go to the hospital for diagnosis, there will be a range of tests that they will do. These tests might include an electrocardiogram (EKG), echocardiogram (ECHO), and a chest X-ray. The EKG measures electrical activity in the heart muscles, including irregular rhythms known as arrhythmias; an ECHO shows how well your valves work; and the chest X-ray helps them see any evidence of lung disease. Some physicians might also recommend stress testing if there are no signs of damage from previous events like trauma or infection. After this test, patients will either exercise or receive pharmacological stressors such as adenosine. Adenosine reduces blood flow in the body and makes it easier to identify abnormalities when examining a patient’s heart during a test. A cardiologist might also suggest another form of imaging like computed tomography angiography (CTA) if they suspect blockages in the artery walls. CTA scans use special x-rays that take pictures inside organs, bones, and blood vessels without using radiation like traditional x-rays do. It is not as detailed as some other types of imaging, but does provide images quickly and painlessly. Treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease often involves steroids to help reduce inflammation in the lungs and antibiotics to fight infections. Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are often advised to quit smoking because tobacco smoke exacerbates COPD symptoms. Treatments vary depending on the severity of COPD: severe cases require oxygen therapy, bronchodilators for shortness of breath, and supplemental oxygen when necessary. With persistent breathing difficulties after three months or worsening shortness of breath over time despite home care options, many people need supplemental oxygen therapy at night while sleeping due to oxygen deprivation at night. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, a machine that blows air into the throat to keep the airways open, is often used in conjunction with supplemental oxygen. Surgery and stents are sometimes recommended for sleep apnea and heart disease. Severe asthma requires more intense forms of management than milder forms. In extreme cases, patients may need a mechanical ventilator to breathe until the asthma attack subsides. Methotrexate, prednisone, and leukotriene inhibitors are often prescribed for treatment of moderate to severe asthma.
Methotrexate is a type of chemotherapy drug that has been found to be successful in the treatment of severe asthma. Prednisone is a corticosteroid and anti-inflammatory agent that is often used to stop or prevent an allergic reaction. Leukotriene inhibitors are drugs that help decrease the production of substances such as leukotrienes and histamines, which contribute to airway swelling and constriction. These drugs should be taken regularly with food. Side effects may include headaches, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhea. Risperidone is one of the newer atypical antipsychotics on the market today and it also works to block serotonin receptors in certain parts of the brain. Side effects may include depression, anxiety and agitation. It’s not recommended for children under 13 years old or those who have epilepsy. Clozapine is one of the oldest atypical antipsychotics on the market today but it’s also highly effective against schizophrenia symptoms if other treatments haven’t worked so far for you . Some side effects can include sedation, dizziness, difficulty urinating and orthostatic hypotension (or fainting). Neurontin is approved by the FDA for the treatment of seizure disorders like epilepsy. The most common side effect reported from this medication is dizziness. Prozac helps regulate moods and emotional stability while providing relief from feelings of sadness or hopelessness and relieving feelings of irritability and impulsiveness; these side effects can usually be managed with a dosage adjustment. Lithium carbonate is typically prescribed to people with bipolar disorder because it stabilizes their mood swings between depressive lows and manic highs, preventing episodes from becoming too severe; many patients need to take lithium for several months before noticing any improvement in their condition though so don’t give up hope!
Myocardial infarction, commonly known as a heart attack, occurs when blood flow to the heart muscle is blocked. This can be caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries or a blood clot. Symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain, shortness of breath, and nausea. Treatment for a heart attack usually involves medication and lifestyle changes. Some patients may need surgery, such as coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). People who experience one heart attack are at higher risk for another one. It’s important to take steps to lower their risk factors and maintain a healthy lifestyle after their first heart attack. The most common type of stroke, an ischemic stroke, happens when there is a blockage in the blood vessels that supply oxygen to part of the brain. An embolic stroke occurs when an object enters the bloodstream and gets lodged in an artery supplying oxygen to part of the brain. A hemorrhagic stroke happens when there is bleeding on or within either hemisphere of the brain. Strokes come with symptoms including numbness, weakness, confusion, vision problems or trouble speaking. There are many types of treatment for strokes including medications and rehabilitation therapy. If you think you might have had a stroke, seek medical attention immediately. You should also call 9-1-1 if someone has collapsed or lost consciousness due to possible signs of a stroke. In some cases, a patient will only require hospitalization for observation. In other cases, doctors will perform an operation called carotid endarterectomy to remove any clots or buildups in the carotid artery in order to reduce the chances of future strokes. While it’s unclear what causes diabetes mellitus, it affects your body’s ability to produce insulin or use insulin properly which leads to high levels of sugar in your blood. Symptoms of diabetes mellitus include increased thirst and hunger, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss and feeling very tired even after sleeping for 8 hours. Another type of cardiac disease is arrhythmia, which refers to a problem with the rate or rhythm of your heartbeat. Irregular heartbeats occur because electrical signals from your heart get mixed up in some way. Sometimes this can happen spontaneously without any other cause like alcohol consumption, but it can also be caused by disease or trauma. A doctor will perform tests and check your health history before they determine what’s causing your irregular heartbeat. Depending on what they find out, they may prescribe drugs like beta blockers to regulate abnormal rhythms and decrease the severity of an arrhythmia episode. Other treatments include ablation, implantation of a pacemaker, coronary angioplasty/stenting, radiofrequency ablation, thoracotomy and more invasive procedures like open-heart surgery. It’s important to remember that sometimes the best treatment is no treatment. Heart failure, or congestive heart failure, is a serious condition where the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the needs of the body. Symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, swelling in the feet and ankles, and rapid weight gain. Patients may need to be hospitalized for evaluation or will follow an outpatient management plan. Their care will vary depending on their level of severity. Congestive heart failure can often be controlled with medications like ACE inhibitors and diuretics (which help your kidneys eliminate excess fluid), along with lifestyle changes like eating a low-salt diet and exercising regularly. A pulmonary embolism is a blockage in the blood vessel in the lungs. It can be caused by deep vein thrombosis, which occurs when a blood clot forms in one of your leg veins and then breaks off and travels to your lungs. Symptoms of pulmonary embolism include difficulty breathing, coughing, or chest pain. Diagnosis for pulmonary embolism may involve X-rays, CT scans, and other tests. Medical treatment includes using medications like heparin to thin the blood or surgery to place a filter inside an artery that is close to the site of a pulmonary embolism. Acute myocardial infarction is when a heart attack occurs suddenly. This can be caused by plaque buildup in the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. Treatment for acute myocardial infarction is primarily focused on stabilizing the patient and preventing any further damage to the heart muscle. A person with acute myocardial infarction may receive medications to make them less likely to experience another heart attack or die, like aspirin, nitroglycerin, beta-blockers and statins. More aggressive treatment for acute myocardial infarction may include reperfusion which involves a doctor inserting a catheter into an artery close to the site of a blockage and injecting medication that clears away any obstruction. Percutaneous coronary intervention is a procedure that is done to widen an artery and may be done in conjunction with other procedures. Coronary artery bypass grafting is the surgical creation of a new path for blood to flow around the narrowed section of an artery. Stents are metal mesh tubes that can be inserted through a small incision in the skin, threaded through the narrowed section of an artery, and expanded at both ends so that they push against each other to keep the passage open. After a stent has been placed, patients will typically have to take medications like aspirin and chewable or slow-release anticoagulants for several months until they are determined to be stable enough for treatment with medicines alone.
Mitral regurgitation is a heart condition in which the mitral valve, which controls blood flow between the left atrium and left ventricle, doesn’t close properly. This causes blood to leak back into the left atrium. MR can be caused by a number of things, including congenital heart defects, heart disease, or injury to the valve. Treatment for MR depends on the severity of the condition. In some cases, medication may be all that’s needed to manage symptoms. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or replace the valve. The prognosis (probability of recovery) varies depending on the type and severity of MR. Some people with mild MR are able to live healthy lives without complications, while others may need medications to control their symptoms or undergo corrective surgery. If you’re diagnosed with mitral regurgitation, your doctor will work closely with you to determine what course of treatment is best for you. Options might include medical management, such as taking anti-inflammatory drugs or controlling high blood pressure; surgical intervention such as valve replacement; pacemaker implantation to help regulate heart rhythm; and/or coronary artery bypass grafting. Your prognosis also will depend on factors like your age, other medical conditions, extent of mitral regurgitation, and degree of damage to other organs. Sometimes it’s difficult to predict how well a person will recover from mitral regurgitation. A few patients who experience only minor problems after surgery go on to develop major problems years later. Conversely, many patients who experience significant problems following surgery report improved quality of life afterward. Doctors monitor MR patients carefully during follow-up visits because progression of the disease can happen quickly and there is no cure for MR. Patients are encouraged to maintain regular exercise and an active lifestyle, but they should avoid anything that puts them at risk for injury. People with mitral regurgitation should not smoke, drink alcohol, or take illegal drugs because these activities make the problem worse. Furthermore, although MR doesn’t have any specific foods that cause or prevent it, a person with mitral regurgitation should stay away from caffeine, chocolate, and certain spices (such as cayenne pepper). And just like any chronic illness, living with MR takes patience and persistence. You’ll have good days and bad days-even periods when your condition seems to worsen. And there may be times when you’ll need ongoing care to keep your condition under control. But if you have the right attitude about your situation and work closely with your doctor on developing a treatment plan tailored to suit your needs, then you can enjoy long-term success in managing this chronic disease.
When the muscles around the walls of your heart weaken, your pumping action becomes less forceful. Less blood gets pumped out of your heart each time it contracts. Since the pressure inside your left ventricle remains high even though the muscles aren’t doing their job, fluid backs up and leaks through the mitral valve into the upper chamber of your heart (left atrium). When this happens, it’s called mitral regurgitation. When too much fluid builds up in your lungs, you develop congestive heart failure. One of the most common types of MR is acquired MR, which develops over time due to another health condition. In the case of mitral valve prolapse, the valve has a floppy sort of consistency. In heart muscle disease, scar tissue replaces healthy tissue and can put pressure on the valve. This may cause MR. Additionally, as people get older, their heart muscle weakens and is more likely to have problems with valves. This leads to MR in about 30% of people over 65 years old.
Mitral regurgitation can be detected with chest x-rays or echocardiograms (an ultrasound test), which use sound waves to produce images of your heart and surrounding structures on a computer screen. With severe MR, systolic blood pressure in the leg might be higher than 120 mm Hg when measured by cuff after walking for 10 minutes. Your doctor might prescribe beta blockers like propranolol or metoprolol to reduce the amount of work your heart has to do. Aortic stenosis: Aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the opening between two chambers (the aorta and left ventricle) of your heart. It causes abnormal patterns of contraction that create extra wear and tear on your heart, eventually leading to its failure. Stenosis occurs when cholesterol deposits build up in the aorta, the main artery that takes blood from your heart to other parts of your body. You may also develop high blood pressure and enlargement of the heart muscle, both of which worsen stenosis. If you have mild symptoms such as difficulty breathing during exercise or an irregular heartbeat with exertion, then doctors will typically recommend lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and losing weight before considering surgery. More serious cases require surgery if other treatments fail. The goal is to relieve enough pressure so that normal blood flow resumes without causing dangerous complications such as heart rhythm disturbances. Balloon angioplasty involves inflating a small balloon that sits in the narrowed section of the aorta. The balloon pushes back against the wall of the artery, widening it. This restores blood flow through the artery and relieves symptoms. There are no open-heart incisions involved. Once the balloon is inflated, we deflate it and remove it, leaving behind just a small metal marker that stays permanently in place to show where there was once blockage. Coronary bypass grafting redirects some of your own circulation around diseased arteries to restore adequate blood supply to your heart muscle. We often call these bypasses because one area of healthy circulation literally bypasses an area where there was once blockage.
Mitral stenosis is a type of cardiac disease that occurs when the mitral valve (which separates the left atrium from the left ventricle) becomes narrowed. This narrowing can be caused by a variety of things, including an infection, scar tissue, or calcium deposits. symptoms of MS include shortness of breath, fatigue, and chest pain. If left untreated, MS can lead to heart failure. There are two main treatments for MS: balloon valvotomy and valve replacement surgery. Balloon valvotomy is a minimally invasive procedure that involves inserting a balloon into the narrowed valve and inflating it in order to widen the valve. Valve replacement surgery is more invasive and involves removing the damaged valve and replacing it with a new one. Depending on your specific case, you may need either of these procedures. To determine which treatment is best for you, your doctor will look at factors such as age, the location of the obstruction, overall health, and other medical conditions. Aortic stenosis (AS): AS is another type of cardiac disease that affects both children and adults. It occurs when there’s too much pressure on the aortic valve. The aortic valve prevents blood from flowing back into the left ventricle after it has been pumped out to keep circulating through the body; AS narrows this opening so less blood can pass through. Symptoms include chest pain and shortness of breath while doing light activity. Sometimes people with AS also experience dizziness, fainting spells, congestive heart failure, and/or weakness. Similar to MS, balloon valvotomy or valve replacement surgery are often used to treat AS. In some cases, a surgical bypass around the narrowed area is necessary. Ventricular septal defect (VSD): VSD is present at birth and most often happens because of a hole in the septum between the right and left ventricles during fetal development before birth. The defect increases blood flow to the lungs, but not enough to circulate oxygen throughout the body. VSD can cause breathing problems, increased risk of infection due to lowered white blood cell count, and swelling in various parts of the body due to accumulation of excess fluid (edema). Without surgery or medication treatment, patients with VSD typically have a life expectancy around 40 years old. The two common treatments for VSD are surgical repair or closure using endovascular catheter-based therapy using coils that compress and seal off the hole. Both methods involve making a small incision on the abdomen to insert tubes called catheters into blood vessels. Once inside, these tubes are guided up toward the hole in the septum, where they inflate and seal off the hole. Since this procedure isn’t open-heart surgery, recovery time is shorter than what would normally be expected if major surgical intervention was needed.
For all types of cardiac diseases and their treatments mentioned above, you should consult your physician about what course of action would work best for you. As with any condition, the earlier you seek help, the better your chances of avoiding a worsening or fatal outcome. The only way to know for sure what your diagnosis is and whether or not you need treatment is to see a doctor. The decision of which type of cardiac disease you have and the subsequent treatments available to you are highly dependent on the severity of your individual case. But, no matter the type, early detection and prompt treatment are essential.