Cardiology deals with the study and treatment of cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels) diseases. It is a vast field that includes diagnosis and treatment of heart failure, coronary artery disease, electrophysiology, congenital heart defects, heart attack and much more. A cardiologist is a physician specializing in this field. Though all cardiologists are trained to study disorders of the heart, study of heart disorders of a child and adult are through different training pathways.
The human heart has the mighty function to pump blood constantly every moment. Here are some amazing facts about the human heart.
- Every day the human heart beats about 100,000 times, sending 2000 gallons of blood throughout the body
- A woman's heart is lighter than a man's heart. While a woman's heart weighs about 8 ounces, a man's heart weighs about 10 ounces
- A woman's heartbeat is faster than a man (By approximately 8 beats)
- Heart attack symptoms are different in men and women
- Laughter is good heart medicine
- Monday is the most common day of having a heart attack. A study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology in 2005 found that incidence of heart attacks was higher by 20 and 15 percent respectively among men and women on Mondays
Cardiologists treat many types of heart diseases. Some of them are:
Coronary Heart Disease (Ischaemic Heart Disease)
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) or Ischaemic Heart Disease is one of the leading causes of death in the world. It happens when the heart's blood supply is blocked by the build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries. With time, there is a build-up of fatty deposits (atheroma) on the walls of the arteries. The process is known as atherosclerosis and can be caused because of smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol. CHD can't be cured. However, treatment can reduce the chances of heart attacks. Regular exercise, medication and surgery are some ways to treat the disease.
Cardiac arrhythmia is a condition when the heartbeat is irregular. It may also be too fast or too slow. Atrial Fibrillation, Heart Block, Bradycardia, Ventricular Fibrillation and Supraventricular Tachycardia are the main types of arrhythmia. While arrhythmias can affect people of all age groups, atrial fibrillation is commoner in older people. The symptom of the disease is an abnormal awareness of heartbeat. Some of the types don't have any symptoms. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is essential to lower the risk of arrhythmia.
Enlarged Heart (Cardiomegaly)
Enlarged heart (Cardiomegaly) is a result of coronary artery disease or high blood pressure. An enlarged heart may fail to pump blood effectively, resulting in congestive heart failure. People suffering from the condition need lifelong medications. Abnormal heart valve, Kidney disease, alcohol abuse or viral infection of the heart may result in the condition. Fatigue, palpitations and swelling of legs are some of the symptoms of an enlarged heart. The symptoms vary widely among different people.
Congestive heart failure
Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is a chronic condition in which the heart fails to pump adequate blood to meet the requirements of the body. Fatigue, shortness of breath and swelling are some of the symptoms of CHF. Treatment opted by cardiologists includes modification in lifestyle, heart transplant and mechanical therapies. Congested lungs, retention of fluid and water and irregular heartbeats are some of the heart failure symptoms.
If you experience any of the above heart problem symptoms, you must immediately visit a cardiologist. The cardiologist will diagnose the condition and treat accordingly.
Heart Attack (MI, myocardial infarction)
Heart attack is a serious medical condition that happens when the blood supply to a part of the heart is blocked. It is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention. If medical assistance is not provided, than it can prove fatal.
Heart attack symptoms
Heart attack signs vary from person to person. Some of the symptoms as pointed out by cardiologists are:
- Chest pain
- Irregular heartbeat
- Extreme weakness
Sometimes an attack occurs without any obvious symptoms. It can happen without the knowledge of the person. These are termed silent heart attacks.
Heart Attack Treatment
Emergency treatment is required to tackle this medical emergency. Heart attack is one of the most common emergencies that cardiologists need to tackle. The treatment depends upon the severity of the attack. Coronary angioplasty can be done as an emergency procedure to treat the condition.
Thrombolysis — Also known as clot buster, thrombolysis is used to break the clot in the coronary artery. However, it can increase the risk of bleeding and stroke and therefore your doctor may not go for this if you are at an increased risk.
In some cases, cardiologists opt for heart bypass surgery. It is also known as coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). It is an operation to bypass a narrow section of the artery using blood vessel from arm, leg or chest.
After treatment, patients may need to take medicines for a long time regularly. Many patients participate in cardiac rehabilitation programme where they are motivated and supported to prevent another attack. Cardiac rehabilitation programmes are conducted in various places such as hospitals, leisure and community centres.
Open Heart Surgery
Sometimes patients need to undergo open-heart surgery. In this type of surgery, the chest is cut and a surgery is conducted on the valves, muscles or arteries of the heart. Open-heart surgery may be done to perform a CABG. The surgery is done under general anaesthesia. The surgery is appropriate for unstable patients. However, there is also a risk of clotting after surgery.
Often people feel an unusual or extra sound during a heartbeat. This sound is known as heart murmur. It can be very loud or faint. Heart murmurs are of two types — innocent and abnormal. While innocent murmurs are not caused by any heart problems, abnormal murmurs are symptoms of heart problems. Diseases in the heart valve cause abnormal murmurs. One must immediately consult a cardiologist if abnormal murmurs are discovered.
Heart problem symptoms must not be ignored and treated at the right time. Heart disease symptoms may be an indication of a serious heart ailment and hence you must get your heart checked in case you face or feel any problem.