It’s American Heart Month and so we’re going to take a look at common heart conditions. We’ll also explore some innovation and breakthroughs from Israel Cardiology Centers.
Common heart conditions
A heart attack is also called myocardial infarction. It is a life-threatening condition where blood flow to the heart is stopped. The heart stops receiving oxygen and nutrients. Heart attacks often happen from build-ups of fatty deposits that accumulate in arteries. Plaque forms. If some plaque falls off, a blood clot will form, blocking the artery and stopping blood flow to the heart.
Symptoms include pressure or aching in your chest, arms, neck, jaw or back. There can also be nausea, shortness of breath, fatigue and dizziness.
High blood pressure is when the force of pumped blood against the artery walls is too strong. About a third of the population in America suffers from high blood pressure. While there are no symptoms, having high blood pressure increases risks. The risks include having a stroke and other heart diseases.
It is easy to detect high blood pressure with regular checkups at your doctor. Many can usually control it with changing lifestyle and medications.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) happens when major blood vessels become damaged and is caused by a buildup of plaque over time. Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath and heart attack.
Cardiomyopathy causes the heart muscle to become enlarged. Over time, the heart becomes weak and this can lead to heart failure or irregular heartbeats.
Vascular diseases refer to any condition which affects the arteries or veins. They can cause plaque buildup, stroke, blood clots, artery disease, hypertension and more.
In a lot of cases, those who have heart problems can be treated with prescription medication. Many treat their high blood pressure with Ocsaar. And for those at risk of stroke or heart disease, Plavix has shown to be effective in reducing the risk. It is always advisable to speak with your health practitioner about your heart problems and any concerns you have.
Innovation at Israeli cardiology centers
Israel’s largest cardiology department is situated at the Shaarei Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem. The department is now a central heart center. This means that cardiac surgery, cardiology and cardiac rehabilitation is all under one roof. Many hospitals offer these services in separate entities and in separate parts of the hospital. Having it all together leads to better treatment.
In the rehabilitation unit, there are two tracks. One is for those who have suffered from a heart attack and come for rehabilitation. The other is for those who are healthy but are at risk. Risk factors include high blood pressure, obesity, or a blood lipid disorder.
There is also a new laboratory, where sound waves are used to show live images of the heart and to evaluate its function. Blood clots, fluid around the heart and issues with the aorta can all be diagnosed this way.
The center also opened a program to implant artificial hearts. So far there are five patients with artificial hearts who are leading almost normal lives. This is a solution that is becoming useful when a patient’s heart can no longer function.
“First in the world heart procedure”
An Israeli cardiologist at a Medical Center developed a procedure to plug a bleeding hole in a 29-year old’s heart. The device is usually used to unblock arteries. The patient had already had three open heart surgeries before and so another one now wasn’t ideal.
The surgeon wanted to think of a way of helping the patient without risking another surgery. In the best-case scenario, this method would help him avoid surgery. In the worst-case scenario, it wouldn’t work, and he’d proceed to surgery anyway.
Luckily, the procedure worked quickly and effectively. This particular technique isn’t widely applicable since it was used in a very individual case. But it did highlight the fact that sometimes it’s worthwhile to think outside the box. Cardiology is constantly progressing to help patients for the better.