does the heart work?
The heart is a hallow pump that receives deoxygenated
blood from the body, that is pumped into the right side, flowing through the tricuspid valve, pulmonary
valve and then up to the lungs where the blood receives fresh oxygen and then
pumped out through the pulmonary veins,
to the left side of the heart, flowing through the mitral valve then
through aortic valve into the left side via the aorta to the rest of the body
to supply rich oxygenated blood to keep our body functioning in a healthy
way. Without oxygen our body would not
be able to function well.
are the RISK factors for developing heart disease (coronary artery disease –
The risk factors for heart disease are and not limited
-Age – with age we develop medical conditions that can
narrow our blood arteries making flow of oxygen rich blood difficult
-Family history – genetics play a role
-Elevated Cholesterol levels: often called – Hypercholesterolemia
or hyperlipidemia refers to levels of cholesterol in the blood that are higher
as the pressure within our arteries, the working and resting pressures, the
first number is the working pressure as the blood is pumped out from the heart
and the second number is the resting pressure when heart is at rest. High blood
pressure is defined as usually above 140/90, aim for numbers that are lower
than these to stay healthy.
-Diabetes: A disease that negatively affects the metabolism of
glucose (sugar) and causes changes in blood vessels that if untreated, may lead
to circulation issues such as the development of coronary artery disease,
blindness and other health issues.
Keeping your sugar levels near to normal with diet, medications and
exercise play an important role in prevention
cause changes in blood vessels that untreated could lead to circulation issues. STOP smoking is the key to promote a healthy
cause damage to the pumping ability of the heart leading to congestion such as
congestive cardiac failure often called heart failure these terms are interchange
and mean the same.
Sedentary life style not participating in activity can lead to an
elevated BMI (Body mass index), i.e. overweight which adds extra strain to the
heart. Thirty minutes of exercise daily
is recommended, and keeps the health care provider away? (Should we put this sentence
Associated with heart attacks – talk to your health care provider they
to your health care provider about your risks and how you can
play a role in reducing your risk of developing coronary artery disease, and
thus reduce your chances of developing angina or heart attack by simply modify
your risk factors.
is coronary artery (heart) disease?
Coronary artery disease/heart disease is a disease of the coronary arteries (blood vessels) that
feed the heart muscle. If narrowed, this
results in a reduction of oxygen rich blood to the heart muscle, resulting in angina
(chest pain on exertion due to partial narrowing) or heart attack if the artery
is not treated or completely blocked with no blood flow to that particular area
if not treated immediately. Narrowing of
the coronary arteries may be related to your individual cardiac risk factors.
What are some of the typical symptoms of coronary artery
The person will develop symptoms such as
but not limited to chest pain/pressure that occurs on activity or rest, may
extend to arms often described as tightness, discomfort, pressure, heaviness,
burning or crushing chest pain and very individualised, not the typical
symptoms you see on TV, with the person clutching their chest and
collapsing. Other symptoms may include
shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, breaking out in a sweat, palpitations or
dizziness. Becoming weak and pale are
other features. Getting to the ER is
important so treatment can be started immediately, if you suspect you are
having symptoms of a heart attack, CALL 911. Do not drive yourself to the hospital.
How is coronary artery disease diagnosed and treated?
Seeing your health care provider is
essential for regular physical appointments to promote healthy styles that
manage your cardiac risk factors before
symptoms occur. Your symptoms once
assessed and if CAD is suspected, you will be refereed for cardiac testing, be
it an electrocardiogram (ECG), stress
test, echocardiogram and blood tests if necessary. A referral will be made to see a
cardiologist. If the diagnosis is
clear or highly suspected you will be advised to go to the nearest Emergency
is a heart attack?
A "heart-attack" is a blockage
in one of the arteries (coronary) that feeds your heart muscle with blood rich
in oxygen, over time or due to risk factors these arteries become narrow and
finally block, with loss of part of the heart muscle due to a severe decrease
in blood supply, leading to permanent damage loss of some of the pumping
Getting treatment is vital and can
result in less damage or no damage. Call
911 and do not drive to the hospital.
What is Angina?
Angina is · Pain or discomfort which occurs when the heart does not receive adequate blood flow to maintain
a constant flow of oxygen to the heart muscle. Angina may be experienced in
the chest, neck, jaw, arms, shoulder or back. No permanent damage is done to
the heart. Usually occurs with
activity and is often relieved with rest or the use of nitroglycerin
spray. It becomes unstable when it
occurs at rest and requires urgent attention.
Treatment of CAD
After the diagnosis of your condition, you may typically start
at least 3-5 medications if your
condition allows, these medications protect your heart by preventing
excessive clotting and keeping the oxygen rich blood flowing through your
arteries and reducing some of the pressures in your heart and blood vessels.
Treatment is individuated – speak to your health care provider. Some of the typical medications are:
Antiplatelet medications possibly two
to keep the blood flowing through the coronary arteries
Angiotension converting agents or
similar agents if ordered by your doctor
Beta blockers to protect your heart
and reduce your heart rate
Cholesterol lower medications even if you have a normal cholesterol they
are used to protect your blood vessels
You may be given a prescription for
nitroglycerin - very individualised discuss with your health care provider. Should only be taken if prescribed as
instructed and only used in the event of typical cardiac chest pain and if the
pain is not relieved within defined period of time as instructed, you should
call an ambulance. Nitroglycerin
dilates the coronary arteries and should be used in caution post angioplasty.
An angiogram will be performed, if
necessary to assess for blockages and treatment will consist of re-opening
the artery by the means of angioplasty often with stents or surgical
treatment such as cardiac bypass surgery which bypasses the narrowed arteries
improving blood flow to the heart muscle.
What do Troponin levels
Troponins are proteins that are released when the heart muscle
is exposed to stress and deprived of oxygen resulting in an elevated troponin
which is a biochemical marker indicating that the heart muscle does not like
the current stress that is occurring, and leaks out into the blood
circulation. Troponin are likely to be
elevated in conditions such as angina or heart attack, as normally our blood
does not contain troponin markers. There
can also be other causes – speak to your health care provider for more
What does nitroglycerin do?
Nitroglycerin is a
drug that has been used for many years to relieve symptoms of angina. It works
by dilating or opening up the coronary arteries that are partially blocked. It
can relieve symptoms of angina within a few minutes. If you have to take nitroglycerin
more frequently than usual, it may be a sign that coronary artery disease is advancing
and you should seek medical advice in that case.
Can exercise really make your heart stronger?
Exercise has huge benefits. It reduces blood pressure and increases HDL,
or good cholesterol. It improves the effectiveness of our blood vessels in the
heart and in the rest of the body and can actual go smaller blood vessels which
can act as a protective barrier. Exercise
makes it less likely that you will have a heart attack and if you do have a
heart attack, it's likely that it will be less severe. In addition, exercise is
a very important component of any weight-loss program. Sign up for cardiac rehabilitation can be
very beneficial in playing a role in your recovery or prevention of heart
What is congestive heart failure?
Congestive heart failure is a
condition where the heart does not pump normally. The heart is unable to fill or empty as
previously. It does not mean that your
heart is failing and going to stop. It
just can’t cope with the normal flow of blood through the arteries and veins
because the pumping or squeezing of the heard is reduced, and it becomes
congested. This can be due to the heart
muscle becoming weak because of heart attacks, virus, alcohol or valves that
are not opening or closing properly. Or
the heart muscle is unable to fill properly or relax and becomes stiff, making
it hard to pump, one cause can be but not limited to, long standing high blood
pressure. Typical symptoms include and
not limited to are feelings of fatigue, shortness of breath, due to the left
side not working well. Or developing swelling
of lower limbs due to right side not working well.
Medications can relieve these
symptoms of congestion, by preventing the heart from being stressed by over
activation of the natural stress hormones which can be toxic and protecting and
stabilising the pumping ability of the heart.
Typically some of the medications
-ACEI/ARB/ARNI – help to pump the
-Beta blocker: Slow down the heart
-Diuretics – water pill
-MRA – prevent salt reabsorption
These drugs are all disease modifying
medications that help to relive the symptoms of heart failure.
Congestive heart failure – what you can do
Being aware of what your symptoms are
catching them early just like a diabetic.
-Watching for any sudden weight gain 2 – 3lbs in 24 hours or 5lbs in a week
-Increased shortness of breath
-Cough when lying flat
-Swelling of ankles
-Limiting your fluid intake to 6 – 8
cups a day 1.5 to 2.0 litres a day
-Limiting salt to less than a ¼
teaspoon a day i.e. 2.0 grams – avoid packaged foods contain a lot of hidden
salt, watch when eating out and look out for MSG
Know what to do if these symptoms
occur – speak to your health care provider in regards to your individualised