By Dr. Rachna Pande
Heart is one of the most vital organs necessary for life. It functions nonstop throughout life to keep the body parts perfused with blood. Blood carries oxygen to each and every part of the body. Therefore, any problem affecting the heart reduces amount of oxygen reaching the body parts, affecting them.
Long standing heart disease affects the functioning of the gut, kidneys and all body parts. This results in reduced appetite, nausea, vomiting and malnutrition due to reduced absorption of nutrients. Impaired functioning of the kidneys causes swelling all over body and renal failure. Similarly reduced blood supply to the liver leads to cirrhosis and liver failure. Gradually a person becomes more and more sick.
Cure consists of surgical correction in cases where feasible. The surgery is expensive and not easily accessible. Alternate therapy is by medicines for life to keep the patient stable. But over a time every individual tends to develop side effects due to these medicines, which adds on the misery.
Therefore, it is important for people to be aware of different kinds of heart diseases so that they can be possibly prevented and on occurrence can be treated at the earliest.
Congenital heart diseases occur due to malformations in the heart present since birth. Usually these develop when in mother’s womb due to some infections or drugs. The baby born fails to suck, adequately fails to thrive and may turn blue while crying. These features should alert one to the possibility that the baby has a heart problem. A pregnant woman has to be very careful, particularly during the first 3 months, as this is the time when the body of the child is formed. Abusive substances like alcohol, tobacco, infections, e.t.c. consumed during pregnancy increase risk of heart diseases in the child.
Rheumatic fever and its resultant damage to the heart valves is a cause of heart disease in adolescents and young adults, more so in the poor of developing countries. It is important to educate the masses about rheumatic fever and that it is the result of untreated or poorly treated streptococcal throat infection. Prevention and timely treatment of this will definitely bring down the prevalence of rheumatic heart disease.
High blood pressure is yet another disease affecting the heart, the prevalence of which is rising across the globe along with development and related stress. People need to understand the need for adequate treatment of hypertension by suitable diet, exercise and if needed medications.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the number one cause for sickness and untimely deaths in both developed and developing countries. It is multi factorial. Fat rich diet, obesity, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, diabetes, alcohol, smoking and stress all these are implicated in causing coronary artery disease. All these factors can be controlled very well for preventing CAD.
An individual may develop CAD due to one or more of these factors and it can be passed on to his offspring through genes, thus a family history of CAD is yet another risk factor for CAD, but one which cannot be modified. Therefore a person having a parent or blood relative suffering from CAD has to be more careful and avoid other risk factors for preventing development of CAD.
The heart and its layers can be affected by infections like T.B. or viral infections like any other part of the body. Resulting symptoms are the same as for other types of heart diseases. Timely treatment of the infection can lead to normal functioning of the heart again.
Greater awareness about these diseases at grass root level would be helpful in preventing them. If required, adequate treatment in time can prevent irreversible damage to the heart.
Dr. Rachna Pande
Specialist internal medicine
- SOURCE: OoReporters
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