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Heart Disease - Common Heart problems and procedures

Common Heart problems and procedures

If either you or a loved one has heart trouble, you can better understand and participate in treatment if you familiarize yourself with the following medical terms that may be used by your physician:

  • * Aneurysm. An aneurysm is a spot in a blood vessel where the wall becomes thin and bulges outward as blood presses against it. If it ruptures, circulation is disrupted. Depending on the location of the aneurysm, the consequences of this can be grave. If detected in time, aneurysms can be repaired surgically in many cases.

  • * Angina pectorls. Angina refers to pain or heavy pressure in the chest that is caused by an insufficient supply of oxygen to the heart tissue. This chest pain may be severe or mild and is usually associated with physical exertion and relieved by rest. h can be a warning sign of impending heart attack.

  • Anglogram. This is a diagnostic picture produced by Injecting into the heart and/or blood vessels a type of dye that is visible on x-ray. It may be done to diagnose valvular disease, blood vessel blockage, and other conditions.

  • Arrhythmia. Cardiac arrhythmias are disruptions in the natural rhythm of the heartbeat that are caused by improper functioning of electrical systern cells in the heart. There are different kinds of arrhythmias. palpitations is a term that refers to the feeling of a-pounding heartbeat, whether regular or irregular. Tachycardia is an abnormal increase in the resting heart rate; bradycardia is the opposite, an abnormally slow heart rate. Ectopic beats are premature beats (often felt as "uskipped" beats). Futter and fibrillation are situations in which the normal steady beating of the heart are converted by electrical error into a rapid twitching of the heart muscle. This ineffective functioning results in an insufficient supply of blood being carded to the body's tissues.

  • Cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops beating. When this happens, the blood supply to the brain is cut off and the person loses consciousness. A person in apparent good health who experiences cardiac arrest usually has unsuspected coronary artery disease.

  • Cardiomegaly. This is the medical term for enlargement of the heart. If the heart is unable to function effectively, as in heart failure, or if there is too much resistance to the normal pumping of blood through the blood vessels, as in high blood pressure, the body attempts to increase the strength of the heart by increasing its size. Carchomegaly is characteristic of a number of different heart disorders. It is also known as cardiac hypertrohy.

  • Cardlomyopathy. Any of a group of diseases of the heart muscle that result in impaired heart function and, ultimately, heart failure. Cardiomyopathies are classified according to characteristic physical changes in the heart, such as enlargement of the heart, dilation of one or more of the heart's chambers, or rigidity of the heart muscle. These disorders may be related to inherited defects or may be caused by any of a number of different diseases. Often, the cause is unknown.

  • Carditis. Carditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle. This can result from infection or from an inflammatory response, as in rheumatic fever, and it can lead to permanent heart damage if not treated.

  • Catheterization. This is a procedure sometimes used to diagnose the condition of the heart andlor circulatory system and, in some cases, to treat cardiovascular disease. A hollowflexible tube called a catheter is inserted by means of a very fine flexible wire into a blood vessel somewhere in the body' (usually the arm, neck, or leg), and from there is threaded through the blood vessel to the heart or other location being investigated. Catheterization can be used to detect (and in some cases to treat) arterial blockage, to discover malformations of the heart, and to study electrical conduction in the heart, among other things.

  • Congestive heart failure. This is a condition of chronic heart failure that results in fluid accumulation in the lungs, labored breathing after even mild exertion, and edema (swelling) in the ankles and feet.

  • Echocardlogram. An echocardiogram is a procedure in which ultrasound technology is used to form an image of the heart. It is used to detect structural and functional abnormalities, enlargement or inflammation of the heart, and other conditions.

  • Endoearditis, This is an inflammation of the endocardium, the membrane surrounding the heart muscle, usually as a result of bacterial infection. Endocarditis is not uncommon in persons with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV and AIDS. It also can occur as a complication of surgery to replace defective heart valves. This disorder can result in permanent heart damage.

  • Heart attack. The medical term for a heart attack is myocardialintarction (M1). This refers to the formation of infarcts (areas of local tissue death or decay) in the myocardiurn (heart muscle). Infarction occurs when the blood supply to an area of the heart is cut off, usually as a result of a blood clot that blocks a narrowed coronary artery. Depending on the size and location of the areas affected, a heart attack may be described as mild or severe, but it always involves some irreparable damage to the heart.

  • Heart failure. This disorder occur's when a damaged heart becomes unable to pump effectively, depriving the body's tissues of adequte oxygen and nutrients to function properly. Heart failure can be either acute (short-term) or chronic, and has a variety of different causes.

  • Ischernic heart disease. Ischemic heart disease is caused by obstruction of the blood flow to the heart, usually as a result of atherosclerosis. Ischemia (lack of sufficient oxygen) can lead to angina, cardiac arrhythmias, congestive heart failure. or a heart attack.

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