Heart Health

Heart Valve Diseases

Your heart has four valves. Normally, these valves open to let blood flow through or out of your heart, and then shut to keep it from flowing backward. But sometimes they don't work properly. If they don't, you could have: Regurgitation - when blood leaks back through the valve in the wrong direction Mitral valve prolapse - when one of the valves, the mitral valve, has "floppy" flaps and doesn't close tightly. It's one of the most common heart valve conditions. Sometimes it causes regurgitation. Stenosis - when the valve doesn't open enough and blocks blood flow Valve problems can be present at birth or caused by infections, heart attacks, or heart disease or damage. The main sign of heart valve disease is an unusual heartbeat sound called a heart murmur. Your doctor can hear a heart murmur with a stethoscope. But many people have heart murmurs without having a problem. Heart tests can show if you have a heart valve disease. Some valve problems are minor and do not need treatment. Others might require medicine, medical procedures, or surgery to repair or replace the valve.

Cardiomyopathy

These diseases enlarge your heart muscle or make it thicker and more rigid than normal. In rare cases, scar tissue replaces the muscle tissue. Some people live long, healthy lives with cardiomyopathy. Some people don't even realize they have it. In others, however, it can make the heart less able to pump blood through the body. This can cause serious complications, including Heart failure Abnormal heart rhythms Heart valve problems Sudden cardiac arrest Heart attacks, high blood pressure, infections, and other diseases can all cause cardiomyopathy. Some types of cardiomyopathy run in families. In many people, however, the cause is unknown. Treatment might involve medicines, surgery, other medical procedures, and lifestyle changes.

Cardiovascular

The cardiovascular system includes: Arteries Arterioles Capillaries Heart Venules  

Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease (CHD) can describe a number of different problems affecting the heart. It is the most common type of birth defect. Congenital heart disease causes more deaths in the first year of life than any other birth defects.  

Cardiac Catheterization

You will get medicine before the test to help you relax. The health care provider will clean a site on your arm, neck, or groin and insert a line into one of your veins. This is called an intravenous (IV) line. A larger thin plastic tube called a sheath is placed into a vein or artery in your leg or arm. Then longer plastic tubes called catheters are carefully moved up into the heart using live x-rays as a guide. Then the doctor can: Collect blood samples from the heart Measure pressure and blood flow in the heart's chambers and in the large arteries around the heart Measure the oxygen in different parts of your heart Examine the arteries of the heart Perform a biopsy on the heart muscle For some procedures, you may be injected with a dye that helps your doctor to visualize the structures and vessels within the heart.  The test may last 30 - 60 minutes. If you also need special procedures, the test may take longer. If the catheter is placed in your groin, you will often be asked to lie flat on your back for a few to several hours after the test to avoid bleeding.

Cardiac MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a safe, noninvasive test that creates detailed pictures of your organs and tissues. "Noninvasive" means that no surgery is done and no instruments are inserted into your body. MRI uses radio waves, magnets, and a computer to create pictures of your organs and tissues. Unlike other imaging tests, MRI doesn't use ionizing radiation or carry any risk of causing cancer. Cardiac MRI creates both still and moving pictures of your heart and major blood vessels. Doctors use cardiac MRI to get pictures of the beating heart and to look at its structure and function. These pictures can help them decide the best way to treat people who have heart problems. Cardiac MRI is a common test. It's used to diagnose and assess many diseases and conditions, including: Coronary heart disease Damage caused by a heart attack Heart failure Heart valve problems Congenital heart defects (heart defects present at birth) Pericarditis (a condition in which the membrane, or sac, around your heart is inflamed) Cardiac tumors Cardiac MRI can help explain results from other tests, such as x rays and computed tomography scans (also called CT scans). Doctors sometimes use cardiac MRI instead of invasive procedures or tests that involve radiation (such as x rays) or dyes containing iodine (these dyes may be harmful to people who have kidney problems).

Angioplasty

If you have coronary heart disease, the arteries in your heart are narrowed or blocked by a sticky material called plaque. Angioplasty is a procedure to restore blood flow through the artery. You have angioplasty in a hospital. The doctor threads a thin tube through a blood vessel in the arm or groin up to the involved site in the artery. The tube has a tiny balloon on the end. When the tube is in place, the doctor inflates the balloon to push the plaque outward against the wall of the artery. This widens the artery and restores blood flow. Doctors may use angioplasty to Reduce chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart Minimize damage to heart muscle from a heart attack Many people go home the day after angioplasty, and are able to return to work within a week of coming home.  

Stent

Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from your heart to other parts of your body. Doctors also may place stents in weak arteries to improve blood flow and help prevent the arteries from bursting. When a stent is placed into the body, the procedure is called stenting. There are different kinds of stents. Most are made of a metal or plastic mesh-like material. Fabric stents, also called stent grafts, are used in larger arteries. Some stents are coated with medicine that is slowly and continuously released into the artery. These stents are called drug-eluting stents. The medicine helps prevent the artery from becoming blocked again.