Cardiology basically is study & treatment of disorders relating to the heart. This is a medical specialty which involves caring of all things associated with the heart & its arteries. However, a cardiologist is not the same like a cardiac surgeon.
Cardiac surgeons are doctors who open up the chest in order to perform heart surgery. Cardiologists on the other hand carry out tests & procedures like coronary angioplasty.
Cardiovascular Disease & Heart DiseaseCardiovascular disease differs from heart disease. While the former refers to illnesses & disorders of the heart & blood vessels, the latter is only specifically concerned with the heart. Heart disease basically describes a range of conditions affecting the heart.
Heart disease umbrella includes diseases like congenital heart defects (heart defects born with), arrhythmias (heart rhythm problems) & blood vessel diseases like coronary artery disease. On the other hand cardiovascular disease usually refers to conditions which involve blocked or narrowed blood vessels leading to stroke, angina (chest pain) or heart attack.
Other heart conditions like those affecting muscles of the heart, rhythm or valves are considered types of heart disease. Nevertheless, several forms of heart diseases can either be prevented or treated by making healthy lifestyle choices.
- Nuclear Cardiology – This subspecialty uses nuclear imaging techniques in the non-invasive study of cardiovascular diseases & disorders, including myocardial perfusion imaging, planar imaging, single-photon-emission computed tomography (SPECT) & infarction imaging. Nuclear cardiologists basically use radioactive materials.
- Interventional Cardiology – This subspecialty involves using intravascular catheter based techniques along with fluoroscopy for treating valvular, congenital cardiac & coronary artery diseases. Interventional cardiologists generally perform coronary thrombectomies, congenital heart defects corrections, valvuloplasties & angioplasties.
- Echocardiography – This subspecialty uses ultrasound waves for creating images of heart valves, heart chambers & surrounding structures. Echocardiography effectively measures as to how well the heart is able to pump blood (cardiac output) along with determining level of inflammation around heart (pericarditis). Echocardiography is also utilised to identify infections or structural abnormalities of heart valves.
- Cardiac Electrophysiology – This involves the study of spread, mechanism & interpretation of electric currents occurring inside heart muscle tissue. This is the system which eventually generates the heartbeat. During electrophysiology study or EPS of the heart, catheter is threaded into vein at top of the leg & guided under fluoroscopy making its way to the heart. These catheters are meant to measure electrical signals within the heart. EPS of heart is usually performed so as to determine if the patient requires a pacemaker & why the patient is fainting when other tests found no cause & to help decide the best treatment option for patients with abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia). EPS can also determine how prone a patient is to accelerated heart beats (tachycardia).
- Heart Valves – There are four valves within the heart which keep blood moving in the right way by opening in a synchronized fashion only when it is required. Moreover, these valves must be properly formed to function perfectly & must open all the way & also close tightly so that there is no leakage. The four valves of the heart are as follows.
Causes of Cardiovascular & Heart DiseasesAtherosclerosis is one of the most common causes of cardiovascular disease. This is commonly caused by correctable problems like being overweight, lack of exercise, unhealthy diet & smoking.
Healthy people with a normal healthy heart are unlikely to develop fatal arrhythmia without any outside trigger like an electric shock or use of illegal drugs. This is primary because healthy heart is free from abnormal conditions which cause arrhythmia, like an area of scarred tissue.
However, electrical impulses of a diseased or deformed heart may not start properly or travel through the heart & therefore make arrhythmias more likely to develop.
Some medications, medical conditions & genes are found to play a role in causing these defects. Sometimes, these heart defects can also develop in adults. As these people age, the structure of the heart can change & cause a heart defect.
cardiomyopathy is enlarging or thickening of the heart muscle. This may further depend upon the following types.
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy – This is the most common type of cardiomyopathy, but the cause of this is often unknown. It may sometimes be caused by toxins, infections, ischemic heart disease (reduced blood flow to heart) & certain drugs. Dilated cardiomyopathy can also be inherited from a parent. This usually dilates (enlarges) the left ventricle of the patient.
- Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy – This is a type in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick. Usually inherited, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can also develop over a period of time due to aging or high blood pressure.
- Restrictive Cardiomyopathy – This is the least common type of cardiomyopathy which can cause the heart muscle to become less elastic & rigid. Occurring for no known reason, it is sometimes also caused by illnesses like hemochromatosis (excessive iron build-up in body), connective tissue disorders or due to some cancer treatments like radiation & chemotherapy.
- Connective Tissue Disorders
- Infections like Infectious Endocarditis
- Rheumatic Fever
Signs & Symptoms of Heart DiseaseSigns & symptoms of heart disease, however depend upon the type of heart disease which the patient has.
Like for instance, most men are more likely to have chest pain while women are likely to have signs & symptoms like extreme fatigue, nausea & shortness of breath. Some signs & symptoms of Atherosclerotic diseases include the following.
- Angina (chest pain)
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in back, upper abdomen, throat, jaw & neck
- Coldness, weakness, numbness or pain in arms or legs when blood vessels in these parts have narrowed
Quite often, patients may not be diagnosed with cardiovascular disease until they have heart failure, stroke, angina or a heart attack. It is therefore important to watch for signs & symptoms of cardiovascular disease & discuss concerns with the doctors. Cardiovascular disease can sometimes be identified early with regular examinations.
- Syncope (fainting) or near fainting
- Shortness of breath
- Discomfort or chest pain
- Bradycardia (slow heartbeat)
- Tachycardia (racing heart beat)
- Fluttering in chest
- Signs & Symptoms Caused by Heart Defects
These include serious congenital heart defects or defects which patients are born with. These usually become evident soon after birth. Heart defect signs & symptoms among children could include the following.
- Cyanosis (pale gray or blue skin color)
- Swelling in areas around eyes, abdomen or legs
- Shortness of breath during feedings leading to poor weight gain in infants
- Swelling in feet, ankles or hands
- Tiring easily during activity or exercise
- Shortness of breath during activity or exercise
- Swelling of feet, ankles & legs
- Breathlessness with rest or exertion
- Fainting, lightheadedness & dizziness
- Irregular heartbeats which feel rapid, fluttering or pounding
Endocarditis – It is affecting the inner membrane of the heart which separates valves & chambers of the heart known as endocardium.
- Myocarditis – This affects the middle muscular layer of the walls of the heart known as myocardium.
- Pericarditis – It affects the tissue surrounding the heart & which is called the pericardium.
- Fatigue or weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Dry or persistent cough
- Changes in heart rhythm
- Swelling in abdomen or legs
- Skin rashes or unusual spots
Sometimes, these valves may get damaged due to a variety of conditions like leading to stenosis (narrowing), regurgitation or insufficiency due to leaking or prolapsed (improper closing). Valvular heart disease generally include the following signs & symptoms depending upon which valve is unable to function properly.
- Syncope (fainting)
- Chest pain
- Swollen ankles or feet
- Irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
This is extremely important for people who are having a family history of heart disease. Therefore, it would be sensible that they seek an appointment with the doctor based upon the new signs & symptoms when they think that they may be having heart disease.
- Age – Aging generally increases risk of narrowed & damaged arteries & thickened or weakened heart muscles.
- Sex – Men are generally at higher risk of developing heart disease. However, women’s risk also increases after menopause.
- Family History – Having a family history of heart disease also increases risk of developing coronary artery disease. It is more so when a parent had developed it at an early age, usually before 55 years of age for a male relative like a brother or father & 65 years of age for a female relative like sister or mother.
- Smoking – Since nicotine constricts blood vessels & carbon monoxide can damage the inner lining, smokers are more susceptible to heart diseases like atherosclerosis. This is why heart attacks are more common among smokers than nonsmokers.
- Poor Diet – Diets which are high in cholesterol, sugar, salt & fat can effectively contribute in development of heart disease.
- High Blood Pressure – Uncontrolled high blood pressure usually results in thickening & hardening arteries which eventually also narrow the vessels which carry blood to heart muscles.
- High Blood Cholesterol Levels – Higher levels of cholesterol in blood can subsequently increase risk of formation of plaques so as to cause atherosclerosis.
- Diabetes – Risk of heart disease generally increases for people with diabetes. Diabetes shares similar risk factors like obesity & high blood pressure.
- Obesity – Excessive weight typically worsens many other risk factors.
- Physical Inactivity – Lack of exercise is commonly associated with several types of heart disease & some other associated risk factors as well.
- Stress – Unrelieved stress may eventually damage arteries & also end up worsening many other risk factors for heart disease.
- Poor Hygiene – These include not washing hands regularly & not establishing other habits which can help prevent bacterial or viral infections puts an individual at risk of heart infections. This is more so when a person is already having an underlying heart condition. Poor dental health is also a contributor to developing heart disease.
- Heart Failure – Heart failure is one of the most common complications of heart disease. This usually occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the requirement of the body. However, heart failure can result from several forms of heart disease, including cardiomyopathy, heart infections, valvular heart disease, cardiovascular disease or any other heart defect.
- Heart Attack – When there is a blood clot blocking blood flow through a blood vessel feeding the heart can cause heart attack which can possibly damage or destroy part of the heart muscle. Atherosclerosis may eventually end up causing a heart attack.
- Stroke – Risk factors which lead to cardiovascular disease can also lead to ischemic stroke. This happens when arteries to brain are narrowed or blocked so that very little blood is reaching the brain. Stroke is generally a medical emergency in which the brain tissue begins to die within just a few minutes of stroke.
- Aneurysm – This is a serious complication which can occur anywhere in the body. Aneurysm basically is a bulge in the wall of an artery. When an aneurysm bursts, the patient may face a life-threatening internal bleeding.
- Peripheral Artery Disease – Atherosclerosis is also found to lead to peripheral artery disease. The extremities, which are usually the legs, do not receive enough flow of blood, when a person develops peripheral artery disease. This usually ends up causing symptoms which most notably are claudication (pain in leg while walking).
- Sudden Cardiac Arrest – This happens quite sudden & unexpected. Sudden cardiac arrest is loss of heart function alongside breathing & consciousness which is most often caused by arrhythmia. A medical emergency which if not immediately treated is fatal, sudden cardiac arrest can also result in sudden cardiac death
- Beware of Pre-Appointment Restrictions – When patients make an appointment with the doctor, it would be sensible to ask if there is anything they need to do in advance, like restricting the diet. Like for example, patients are required to fast before a cholesterol test.
- Write Down Symptoms Experienced – This should also include any which seem unrelated to the heart disease.
- Write Down Key Personal Information – This information should include family history of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke & any major stresses or changes in recent life.
- Make a List of Current Medications – This list should include supplements & vitamins along with medications currently being taken.
- Take Someone Along If Possible – Someone accompanying the patient can help remember information provided during initial appointment & which the the patient may sometimes forget.
- Prepare to Discuss – Patients must stay prepared to discuss their habits including exercise, smoking & diet. In case they do not already follow an exercise or diet routine, they should talk to the doctor about starting one.
- Write Down Questions to Ask Doctors – Some basic questions for heart disease which patients can ask doctors are listed below.
- What is most likely to be the cause of my condition or symptoms?
- What other possible causes can be for my condition or symptoms?
- Which tests will I need to undergo?
- Which is the best treatment option that I have?
- Which foods should I eat or avoid?
- What is an appropriate level of physical activity I can indulge in?
- How often do I need to be screened for heart disease?
- How often do I need to undergo cholesterol test?
- What alternatives do you suggest to the primary approach for treatment?
- How do I best manage my other health conditions along with this?
- Are there any restrictions which I need to follow?
- Do I need to see another specialist for my condition?
- Is there any generic alternative to the medicine you prescribe?
- Can you provide me with any brochures or other reading materials I can make use of?
- Which websites do you recommend I refer to for information?
- When did you first notice these symptoms?
- Have these symptoms been occasional or continuous?
- How severe are these symptoms?
- What if anything, seems likely to improve symptoms?
- What if anything, seems likely to be worsening symptoms?
- Are you having any family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or any other serious illnesses?
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) – ECG effectively records these types of electrical signals & which can help the doctor detect any type of irregularities in the structure & heart rhythms.
- Holter Monitoring – This is a portable device which the patient can wear in order to record continuous ECG & which is usually done for 24 – 72 hours of time. Holter monitoring is also used for detecting heart rhythm irregularities which are not found during regular ECG examination.
- Echocardiogram – This is a noninvasive examination which includes ultrasound of chest while showing detailed images of the structure & function of the heart.
- Cardiac Catheterization – A short sheath (tube) is inserted into artery or vein in arm or groin area during this test. A hollow & flexible guide catheter (long tube) is subsequently inserted into the sheath. Aided by x-rays on a monitor, doctors will thread the guide catheter through the artery or vein until it reaches the heart.
- Pressure in the heart chambers can then be measured & dye can also be injected. These dyes are visible on x-rays & which eventually help doctors see flow of blood through the patients’ heart, valves & blood vessels in order to check for any abnormalities.
- Cardiac Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan – This is a test which is often utilized for checking problems of the heart. Cardiac CT scan patients lie upon a table attached to a doughnut-shaped machine. X-ray tube inside the machine is designed to rotate around the body & collect images of the chest & heart.
- Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – The heart patient will lie on a table inside a long tube-like machine which is designed to produce a magnetic field. This magnetic field will eventually produce pictures which will help doctors evaluate the heart of the patient.
- Changes in Lifestyle – Lifestyle changes include eating low-fat & low-sodium diet, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake & getting at least 30 minutes of modern exercise on most days of the week.
- Medications – When lifestyle changes alone are not enough, doctors may prescribe medications in order to control heart disease. These medications will however depend upon the type of heart disease.
- Medical Procedures Including Surgical Intervention – When medications are also not proved useful, it is quite possible that doctors may recommend surgery or some other specific procedure. Type of procedure will however depend upon the type of heart disease & the extent of damage to the patients’ heart.
Types of Cardiac Treatments
Therefore treatments may often vary from watchful waiting to emergency surgery depending upon the size & growth rate of thoracic aortic aneurysm. Surgery for TAAD nevertheless, will need to be planned in accordance with condition. Cardiac diagnostic services in India are excellent & will eventually help international patients plan best treatments for a variety of medical conditions.
Blood pressure & other associated factors over time are found to create this weak bulge like balloon in arteries which can enlarge to rupture in cases. Stent grafts are designed to tightly seal above & below aneurysms. As this graft is stronger than the weakened artery, it allows blood to pass through it without pushing or straining on the bulge. Surgeons typically use Endovascular Stent Graft to repair conditions arising out of thoracic aortic aneurysms.
Coronary Angiography, also known as Arteriography is a medical imaging technique utilized to visualize the inner view of blood vessels & organs inside the body. Laying particular interest in veins, arteries & heart chambers, the traditional method involves injecting radio-opaque contrast agent into the blood vessel while using x-ray based techniques like fluoroscopy for imaging. The resulting image of blood vessels is called angiograph or an angiogram. However, Angiography is not the best method for determining the presence or absence of atheroma or atherosclerosis within arterial walls.
This procedure is typically performed in Cath Labs (Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory) with help of a specialized cardiologist along with a team of cardiovascular technicians & nurses. Alongside relaxation medications, the surgeon will numb the site with local anesthesia where the catheter will be inserted. The main surgical procedure will last for about 90 - 150 minutes, but preparation & recovery time add several hours. Patients will normally be asked to stay overnight at the hospital for observation. Best angioplasty treatments in India also include Peripheral Angioplasty Surgery.
Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery is a surgical procedure restoring blood flow to the heart muscle by diverting normal course around a section of blocked artery in the heart. CABG uses another healthy blood vessel or graft taken from patient’s chest, arm, abdomen or leg so as to connect arteries in the heart to bypass diseased or blocked area. CABG or Coronary Artery Heart Surgery effectively improves blood flow to heart & which undoubtedly is a good option for treating heart disease. Symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath due to poor blood flow to heart & most often relieved through CABG along with an improvement in the functioning of the heart. India is well known for low-cost treatments for heart diseases. Cardiac Surgery procedures including Bypass Surgery is world class & available for just a fraction of the cost you will have to pay anywhere else in the world. Your heart disease treatment in India, in fact, would be heartening in many ways.
Heart valve replacement surgery procedure is required when any one of the four heart valves involved in normal functioning of the heart does not function properly. In the treatment of heart valve disease, cardiac surgeons generally repair or replace defective heart valves. Diseases which can be addressed by heart valve surgery include aortic valve disease, mitral valve disease, pulmonary valve disease & tricuspid valve disease. Results derived from heart valve surgery are prolonged & improve the quality of life of the patient with reduced symptoms of disease enabled by preserving normal function of heart muscle. Although open heart surgery involves some amount of risk, most major complications are now quite rare due to technological advancements & improved techniques in surgery.
minimally invasive cardiac surgery is normally performed through small incisions made on the right side of the chest. Cardiac surgeons are able to operate from between ribs this way without splitting the breastbone. This in turn causes less pain & much quicker recovery time for most patients. Moreover, while using minimally invasive cardiac surgery, heart surgeons have better view of some parts of the heart when compared to open heart surgery. However, both surgical procedures require temporary stoppage of heart & diversion of blood flow from heart with help of the heart-lung machine. Nevertheless, only a cardiac surgeon can determine if minimally invasive cardiac surgery is the right operative procedure in a particular case.
Robotic Cardiac Surgery, Robot-Assisted Heart Surgery or Closed-Chest Heart Surgery mimics exact maneuvers performed in traditional open-heart surgery by a surgeon only by using robotic arms in this case. Working from a remote computer console the surgeon is able to view your heart in a magnified 3D high-definition image on a monitor. His hand movements from remote console are precisely translated by robotic arms at the operating table moving in tandem with surgeon’s wrist. Assisted by another surgeon & surgical team who change instruments & tools attached to robotic arm, Robotic Cardiac Surgery has in fact changed the way heart operations are now performed.
Pacemaker Implant Surgery is normally performed while the patient remains awake. It typically takes a few hours of time while the patient will be sedated & local area numbed for surgery. During this procedure one or more insulated flexible wires are inserted through a major vein near or under collarbone & guided to the heart with help of x-ray. One end of these wires is secured to appropriate position in the heart & the other end is attached to the pulse generator normally implanted under the skin beneath collarbone. A single day stay at the hospital is normally recommended to ensure the pacemaker is programmed according to your needs. A revisit is often scheduled to verify the correctness of settings. Subsequently, pacemakers can also be remotely checked using cell-phones or radiofrequency signals. Pacemakers are designed to transmit & receive information so your doctor can access data which includes heart rate & rhythm, along with the functioning of pacemaker & battery life.
These very electrodes are also useful in helping destroy bad areas within heart when diagnosed. Normally performed in a hospital with trained staff, the team includes cardiologists trained in electrophysiology, nurses & technicians, in a safe & controlled setting. Cardiac Ablation is a lengthy procedure which may last for about 4 hours. Your heart will be closely monitored by the surgeon all through this procedure. Heart rhythm problems can often be dangerous if left untreated.
While Travcure covers most children’s cardiac ailments, common pediatric heart surgery procedures include Vascular Surgery, Ventricular Septal Defect Surgery or VSD Closure Surgery & Heart Failure Surgery.
Cardiothoracic Surgery is commonly known as heart surgery which is performed on heart by cardiac surgeons. There are various sorts of issues which require cardiovascular surgery like ischemic heart disease complications, valvular heart disease treatments, correct congenital cardiac diseases, rheumatic heart diseases, endocarditis & atherosclerosis. Sometimes it also involves heart transplantation.
Heart Transplant Surgery is just as the name suggests & is used to transplant a diseased heart with a healthy heart from another. It is generally performed on patients facing last stage of heart failure. Heart failure is basically a situation in which the heart is weak or injured, which results in lesser blood pumping to fulfill body’s requirement.
- Quit Smoking – Smoking is in fact a major risk for heart disease patients, especially atherosclerosis patients. Quitting smoking therefore is the best way to reduce risk of heart disease & its associated complications.
- Control Blood Pressure – Take blood pressure measurements at least once every two years. If the blood pressure is higher than normal or if the patient is having history of heart disease, doctors may recommend more frequent measurements. Optimal blood pressure would be lesser than 120 systolic & 80 diastolic as measured in mm Hg (millimeters of mercury).
- Keeping Check on Cholesterol – Ask doctors for a baseline cholesterol test when you are in the 20s & subsequently at lease every 5 years. People need to start testing earlier especially in case high cholesterol runs in the family. Doctors usually recommend more frequent tests in case results are not within desired limits. Most people however aim for LDL level to be below 130 milligrams per deciliter or 3.4 millimoles per liter.
- In case where the patient is having other factors for heart disease, they should aim for LDL below 100 mg/dL. For patients who are at very high risk of heart disease, like those who already have diabetes or had a heart attack, should aim for LDL even lower, below 70 mg/dL.
- Diabetes Under Control – Tight blood sugar control for patients having diabetes will help in reducing the risk of developing heart disease.
- Exercise – Exercising helps in achieving & maintaining healthy weight & controlling diabetes, high blood pressure & elevated levels of cholesterol, which are all risk factors for heart disease. For patients having heart defect or heart arrhythmia, there could be some restrictions on activities they can do.
- They should therefore ensure to do so. With permission from the doctor, patients can aim at charting out a 30 – 60 minute physical activity program for most days of the week.
- Eat Healthy Foods – Diet which is heart-healthy & based on whole grains, vegetables & fruits & which is low in saturated fat, sodium, cholesterol & added sugar will be helpful in controlling weight, cholesterol & blood pressure.
- Maintaining Healthy Weight – Being overweight generally increases risk of developing heart disease. Waist circumference of 35 inches or less along with BMI which is less than 25 should be the ideal goal of people for treating & preventing heart disease.
- Managing Stress – It would be sensible to reduce stress as much as possible. People should practice techniques for management of stress, like deep breathing & muscle relaxation.
- Dealing with Depression – Being depressed significantly increases risk of developing heart disease. People should therefore talk to the doctor in case they feel uninterested or hopeless in life.
- Practicing Good Hygiene – It would be sensible to stay away from people having infectious diseases like colds. It is recommended that people should regularly wash hands, get vaccinated against flu & brush & floss teeth regularly in order to keep well.
- Cardiac Rehabilitation – Cardiac rehabilitation is most often recommended to improve treatment & speedy recovery for patients having cardiovascular disease which has caused heart attack or which has required surgical intervention for correction. Cardiac rehabilitation generally involves nutritional counseling, levels of monitored exercise, emotional support along with education & support for making lifestyle changes in order to reduce risk of heart operations.
- Support Groups – Turning to family & friends for support is essential, but then if patients need more help, they should speak with doctors for joining a support group. Heart disease patients should realize that talking to others with similar problems about concerns they are having can be very helpful.
- Continuing Medical Checkups – Heart disease patients having chronic or recurring heart conditions should regularly check in with doctors in order to make sure that their heart condition is being properly managed.
- Quit smoking
- Practicing good hygiene
- Reducing & managing stress
- Maintaining healthy weight
- Eating a diet which is low in salt & saturated fat
- Exercising at least 30 minutes a day (most weekdays)
- Controlling other health conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol & high blood pressure
Choosing Travcure for Affordable Cardiac SurgerySome of the best world renowned top heart surgeons provide best angioplasty in India. Bypass surgery in India is excellent & has gained immense international repute. Best heart treatments in India are available at a fraction of the cost international patients would have to pay elsewhere.
Advanced cardiac surgery procedures are available in state-of-the-art medical facilities using world-class sophisticated technology. Affordable cardiac treatments in India are performed by extremely competent doctors who have contributed to the global recognition of this country as a leading healthcare industry.
India is a specialist destination for cardiac treatment procedures. Travcure Medical Tourism is associated with the best nationally & internationally accredited hospital multispecialty hospitals in the country so as to offer a wide spectrum of affordable solutions to people from all parts of the world.