FAQ

  • What is heart disease?
  • What are the symptoms of heart disease?
  • What is heart attack?
  • When to seek advice from your Physician?
  • How to keep your heart healthy?
  • What is bypass surgery?
  • Are all chest pains gastric pains?
  • When to seek emergency medical help if you have chest pain?
  • When heart surgery is essential?
What is heart disease?

Diseases of the heart include both congenital defects present from birth and acquired disorders that develop later in life. In broad heading, the heart disease commonly treated by cardiac surgeons include :

A. Congenital heart disease: ASD, VSD, TOF, PDA, TGA, PAPVC/TAPVC etc. that need surgical correction

B. Ischaemic heart disease needing coronary revascularization or bypass

C. Valvular heart disease needing valve repair or replacement

D. Tumors of the heart, e.g. myxoma needing excision

What are the symptoms of heart disease?

For children with congenital heart disease:

1. Difficulty in breathing

2. Bluish discoloration of tongue, lips, ear lobules, nose tip and nailbeds

3. Increased respiratory difficulty during feeding / crying/ playing or any physical exertion

4. Growth retardation

5. Recurrent cough, cold, fever

6. Palpitation etc.

For adults :

1. Central compressing chest pain, radiating to left arm, shoulder, back or jaw

2. Heartburn

3. Shortness of breath on exertion

4. Exercise intolerance

5. Palpitation

6. Cough, may be associated with blood mixed sputum

7. Episodes of sudden unconscious

8. Childhood history of rheumatic fever

What is heart attack?

Myocardial infarction, commonly known as heart attack, is a life threatening emergency medical condition when the blood supply to a certain area of heart muscle stops due to blockage of the supplying coronary artery resulting in muscle death. It is diagnosed by ECG and rise of biochemical markers like Troponin I in blood.

Symptoms include sudden severe compressing central chest pain radiating to jaw, arms, shoulder or back that is not relieved on rest or sublingual GTN spray, heartburn, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea or cold sweat. Diabetic or elderly patients may have silent heart attack without any significant symptoms.

When to seek advice from your Physician?

If you have any of the above mentioned symptoms, do not delay visiting a cardiologist / cardiac surgeon. Your doctor will evaluate you clinically and perform some investigation, the findings of which will guide your further treatment.

Left untreated, congenital defects may reach a state where curative treatment is no longer possible and life-expectancy will be cut short. Ignoring warning chest pains may lead to myocardial infarction (heart attack) and cause sudden death or result in ischaemic cardiomyopathies where revascularization will no longer be of any benefit. Valvular disease may lead to life threatening complications like arrhythmias, formation of blood clots (thrombus) within the heart that might embolize and cause death/ end organ damage.

So, do not ignore your symptoms. Seek an expert opinion at the earliest possible time.

How to keep your heart healthy?

• Eat healthy

• Fill up on fruit and vegetables

• Limit saturated fat intake

• Get active

• Get more exercise

• Stay at a healthy weight

• Quit smoking and stay away from second-hand smoke

• Control cholesterol, diabetes and blood pressure.

• Avoid alcohol.

• Keep stress under control.

What is bypass surgery?

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), commonly known as bypass surgery, is the gold standard of coronary revascularization.

Here, the blocked segment of the coronary artery is bypassed using vein from your leg or artery from your hand or chest to re-establish blood flow to affected portion of heart.

Are all chest pains gastric pains?

NO Many people ignore central chest pains thinking it is gastric pain.

Gastric pain is usually burning in nature, usually occur in empty stomach or just after meal, aggravated by spicy/ oily food, relieved with common antacids or PPIs.

Angina (chest pain due to decreased blood & oxygen supply to heart muscle) is tightening / compressing/ squeezing in nature, usually accompanied with nausea, cold sweats, fast breathing, excessive tiredness or palpitation, may radiate to jaws, back, arms or neck, increase with exercise or emotional stress and decrease with rest and sublingual GTN spray.

When to seek emergency medical help if you have chest pain?

• A sudden feeling of pressure, squeezing, tightness, or crushing under your breastbone

• Chest pain that spreads to your jaw, left arm, or back

• Sudden sharp chest pain with shortness of breath, especially after a long period of inactivity

• Nausea, dizziness, rapid heart rate or rapid breathing, confusion, pallor, or excessive sweating

• Very low blood pressure or very low heart rate

When heart surgery is essential?

– For closure of congenital defects

– atrial /ventricular septal defects, ligation of PDA etc.

– Correcting congenital anomaly

-TGA, TOF, TAPVC, Pulmonary stenosis etc.

– Repair or replacement of damaged heart valve, commonly mitral / aortic stenosis/ regurgitation /prolapse

– Coronary artery bypass grafting

– Excision of myxoma

– Repair of ventricular/ septal rupture/ aneurysm

– Surgery of ascending aorta


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