Heart disease is a condition when the heart has a disorder. The form of the disorder itself can vary. There are disorders of the heart arteries, heart rhythms, heart valves, or congenital disorders.
The heart is a muscle that is divided into four chambers. Two spaces are located at the top, namely the atrium (foyer) right and left. While the other two chambers are located at the bottom, namely the ventricles (chambers) right and left. Between the right and left spaces are separated by a muscle wall (septum) which functions to prevent mixing of oxygen-rich blood with oxygen-poor blood.
The main function of the heart is to drain oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the body. After all the organs of the body use oxygen in the blood, the oxygen-poor blood returns to the heart (right atrium), to be passed to the right ventricle through the tricuspid valve. After blood fills the right ventricle, the tricuspid valve closes to prevent blood from returning to the right atrium. Then, when the right ventricle contracts, oxygen-poor blood will come out of the heart through the pulmonary valve and pulmonary artery, then carried to the lungs to be filled with oxygen.
The oxygen-enriched blood is then taken to the left atrium through the pulmonary vein. When the left atrium contracts, blood will be forwarded to the left ventricle via the mitral valve. After the left ventricle is filled with blood, the mitral valve will close to prevent blood from returning to the left atrium. Then, the left ventricle will contract, and blood will flow throughout the body through the aortic valve. The circulatory cycle will continue to recur.
Types of heart disease
The term heart disease includes a variety of heart problems, including:
- Coronary artery disease (coronary heart disease) - narrowing of the heart arteries.
- Arrhythmias - disorders of the heart rhythm.
- Congenital heart disease - heart abnormalities from birth.
- Cardiomyopathy - a disorder of the heart muscle.
- Heart infections - infections of the heart due to bacteria, viruses, or parasites.
- Heart valve disease - a disorder in one or all four heart valves.
Symptoms of heart disease
Symptoms of heart disease vary greatly depending on the type of condition experienced. A number of symptoms that can arise in heart disease include:
- Chest pain feels like being crushed.
- Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, back and arms.
- Heart palpitations or heart rate slows down.
- Changes in heart rhythm.
- Hard to breathe.
- Dry cough that does not improve.
- Easily tired when on the move.
- Hands and feet feel cold.
- Cyanosis or blue skin color.
- Swelling of the legs, arms, abdomen, or around the eyes.
- Fainting or feeling faint.
- Skin rash.
Heart disease will be easier to handle if detected early. Therefore, consult a doctor if the above symptoms appear. Also consult about ways that need to be done to reduce the risk of heart disease, especially if there is a history of heart disease in the family.
Complications of Heart Disease
A number of complications that can occur due to heart disease include:
- Aneurysm . Aneurysms are enlargements in the arterial wall, which if broken can cause death.
- Peripheral arterial disease . This condition is characterized by a blockage of blood flow to the legs, causing pain when walking (claudication).
- Stroke . A number of risk factors that trigger coronary heart disease can also trigger ischemic stroke . Ischemic stroke occurs when the arteries to the brain are blocked, so they don't receive enough blood flow. This condition must be treated immediately, because it can turn off brain tissue within minutes after a stroke.
- Heart failure . This condition occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood throughout the body. Heart failure can occur due to coronary heart disease, heart valve disease, heart abnormalities, cardiomyopathy, and heart infections.
- Heart attack . This condition occurs when the blood clot blocks the flow of blood to the heart which has narrowed before, and damages the muscles. One that can trigger narrowing of the heart blood vessels is atherosclerosis .
- Sudden cardiac arrest . This condition occurs when the heart's function stops suddenly, so the patient cannot breathe and lose consciousness. If not handled immediately, it can lead to death. Sudden cardiac arrest is often triggered by arrhythmias.
Causes of Heart Disease
The causes of heart disease vary greatly, ranging from problems in the heart arteries, heart rhythms, to birth defects. The following will explain the causes of heart disease by type.
Coronary heart disease
Coronary heart disease occurs when the heart does not get enough blood rich in oxygen and nutrients. This condition is caused by narrowing or blockage of the heart blood vessels or coronary arteries.
Coronary heart disease is caused by atherosclerosis, which is a narrowing of the arteries due to plaque buildup. In rare conditions, narrowing or damage to the coronary arteries can also occur due to arterial embolism, arteritis (inflammation of the arteries), aneurysms, and aortic dissection .
Heart rhythm disorders
Heart rhythm disorders or arrhythmias are abnormal heart rhythms. Arrhythmias occur when electrical impulses that regulate the heart rhythm do not function properly. As a result, the heart can beat too fast, too slow, or irregularly. An example of arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation.
Arrhythmias can be caused by a number of conditions, such as:
- Diabetes .
- Heart defects at birth.
- Consumption of excessive alcoholic or caffeinated drinks.
- Heart valve disease.
- Coronary heart disease.
- Drug abuse.
- High blood pressure.
Congenital heart disease
Congenital heart disease is a disorder of the shape and function of the heart that occurs from birth. Abnormalities can be located in the heart valves, heart walls, or in blood vessels. Examples of congenital heart disease are patent ductus arteriosus and tetralogy of Fallot .
Congenital heart disease results from a disruption in the process of developing the heart when the baby is still in the womb. It is not yet known why the disorder occurs, but it is thought to be related to the following factors:
- History of cardiac abnormalities in the family.
- Use of drugs during pregnancy
- Viral infection in the first trimester of pregnancy.
- Alcohol addiction or drug abuse during pregnancy.
Heart disease can also be caused by cardiomyopathy, which is the condition of the heart muscle that is not strong enough to pump blood throughout the body. Cardiomyopathy is very dangerous, because it can trigger heart failure and sudden cardiac arrest.
Not yet known what causes cardiomyopathy. However, this condition is thought to be related to:
- Damage to the heart muscle due to a heart attack.
- Metabolic disorders, such as thyroid disease and diabetes.
- Complications of pregnancy.
- Alcoholism .
- Drug abuse.
Heart disease can also be caused by infection or inflammation of the inner lining of the heart (endocardium), heart muscle (myocardium), or the membrane that lines the heart (pericardium). Some examples of heart disease due to infection are endocarditis, myocarditis , and pericarditis.
Heart infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, or fungi. The trigger for this disease also varies, including AIDS, kidney failure, lupus , or heart injury due to an accident.
Heart valve disease
As the name suggests, heart valve disease is characterized by damage to the heart valve. Valve damage can be caused by narrowing (stenosis) or leakage (insufficiency or regurgitation).
Heart valve disease can be caused by several conditions, such as rheumatic fever, endocarditis caused by infection, connective tissue disorders, or abnormalities from birth.
Risk Factors for Heart Disease
Heart disease can be experienced by anyone. Some factors that can increase a person's risk of experiencing it are:
- Age . Increasing age increases the risk of weakening and thickening of the heart muscle.
- Sex . Men are more at risk of developing heart disease than women. However, the risk of developing this disease will increase in women after menopause.
- Family history . A person's risk of suffering from heart disease is also high if you have a history of this disease in the family. Especially, if you have a father or brother who has heart disease before the age of 55 years. Or in other cases, have a mother or sister who is diagnosed with heart disease before the age of 65 years.
- Cigarettes . The content of nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke can constrict blood vessels and damage the inner lining of the heart. Therefore, heart attacks are more common in smokers.
- Cancer therapy . The use of chemotherapy and radiotherapy drugs increases the risk of heart disease.
- Bad diet . Consumption of foods high in fat, sugar, salt, and cholesterol contribute to heart disease.
- Hypertension . Uncontrolled high blood pressure will trigger thickening of the blood vessels, thus narrowing the blood flow.
- High cholesterol level . High cholesterol can form plaque deposits in blood vessels and increase the risk of atherosclerosis.
- Poor personal hygiene . Do not routinely wash your hands or brush your teeth, can make bacteria and viruses enter your body and trigger heart infections.
In addition to a number of factors above, lack of activity, stress that is not handled properly, and medical conditions such as diabetes or obesity, can also increase the risk of heart disease.
Heart Disease Diagnosis
Before carrying out the examination, the doctor will first ask about the disease history of the patient and his family. Then, the doctor will check the patient's heart rate and blood pressure. Blood samples can also be taken to measure cholesterol and C-reactive protein levels.
To strengthen the diagnosis, the doctor will conduct a follow-up examination. The method of examination depends on the doctor's expectations regarding the type of heart disease experienced by the patient. A number of inspection methods include:
An ECG is a test that aims to record the heart's electrical signals. This test can detect abnormalities in the rhythm and structure of the heart. The doctor can run an ECG in a patient's state of rest or exercise.
At this examination, the doctor will ask the patient to lie down, and attach 12-15 electrodes to his body. Then, the machine connected to the electrode will record the patient's electrical signal.
Echocardiography is an examination that uses sound waves (USG) in the heart. Echocardiography helps doctors evaluate the condition of the patient's muscles and heart valves.
The doctor can carry out echocardiography by moving the transducer on the patient's chest. In other cases, the doctor can use a smaller transducer to be inserted into the esophagus. This transducer functions to send sound waves from and to the heart, to be translated into images on the monitor.
Test pressure ( stress test )
A pressure test is an examination of the heart condition when the patient's heart rate increases. To increase heart rate, patients will be asked to pedal a bicycle or run on a treadmill .
In this examination, patients will be asked to use a chest device called a Holter monitor. The Holter monitor will record the heart's electrical activity for 1-3 days.
Tilt table test
If the symptoms of heart disease are experienced by the patient until he faints, the doctor will run a tilt table test . In this test, the patient will be placed on a table which is then moved from horizontal to vertical. When the table moves, the doctor will monitor the heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels in the patient's body. The Tilt table test helps the doctor know whether the patient has fainted due to heart disease or other conditions.
Cardiac CT scan
This examination uses X-rays to display images of the patient's heart and coronary arteries. This examination can be done to detect calcium buildup in the coronary arteries.
MRI of the heart
On this examination, the patient will be asked to lie on the examination table, then put on the MRI machine. During the examination, the magnetic field inside the MRI machine will display the image of the inside of the patient's body. Then, the image will be analyzed by a doctor to diagnose the type of heart disease that is experienced.
Heart rate is the act of inserting a small tube (catheter) through a vein in the thigh or arm. With the help of X-rays , the doctor will direct the catheter to the heart. This action can help the doctor know whether there is a blockage or narrowing in the arteries.
Treatment of heart disease
Treatment depends on the type of heart disease experienced by the patient. For example, in heart disease caused by an infection, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics.
In general, the methods for treating heart disease include:
- Lifestyle changes. Living a healthy lifestyle can prevent heart disease from worsening. Some ways that can be done, among others, by doing light exercise 30 minutes a day, eating low-fat and low-sodium foods, quitting smoking , and limiting consumption of alcoholic beverages.
- Drugs. Drugs used to treat heart disease depend on the type of heart disease itself. Some classes of drugs commonly used in the treatment of heart disease include:
- ACE inhibitors - function to inhibit the body from producing angiotensin so that it lowers blood pressure. Examples are captopril and ramipril .
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers - work by inhibiting the effects of angiotensin so that it lowers blood pressure. For example losartan .
- Anticoagulants - function to prevent blood clots by inhibiting the work of blood clotting factors. For example, heparin and warfarin .
- Antiplatelet - Just like anticoagulants, antiplatelet function prevents the formation of blood clots in different ways. For example, aspirin and clopidrogel .
- Calcium antagonists - work by regulating calcium levels that enter the heart muscle and blood vessels, thus widening the vessels from the heart. Examples are amlodipine and nifedipine .
- Beta blockers - work by suppressing the effects of adrenaline which increases heart rate, so the heart doesn't work too hard. Examples are metoprolol and bisoprolol .
- Reducing cholesterol - functions to increase levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and reduce levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). For example atorvastatin .
- Digitalis medicine - works by increasing calcium levels in heart cells, thereby increasing the heart pump. For example, digoxin .
- Nitrate - functions to dilate blood vessels. For example, nitroglycerin and isosorbide dinitrate.
- Medical Procedure. In some cases, the doctor will perform a surgical procedure so that the patient's condition does not worsen. For example, if the patient's arteries are almost or completely closed, the doctor will attach a stent or ring to the arteries so that the patient's blood flow returns to normal. The procedure performed depends on the type of heart disease and the degree of heart damage experienced by the patient. Another procedure is often done surgery bypass heart . This surgical procedure is done by transplanting other blood vessels, so that the blood flow through the new blood vessels.
Prevention of heart disease
Heart disease caused by abnormalities cannot be prevented. However, many types of this disease can be prevented, by living a healthy lifestyle. Aside from being a prevention, a healthy lifestyle below can also help heart disease patients in the healing process:
- Quit smoking. Cigarettes are a major risk factor for heart disease, especially coronary heart disease.
- Routine check-up. Perform routine checks related to cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Know the normal levels of the three conditions, namely:
- Blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg.
- Bad cholesterol (LDL). In general, normal LDL levels are below 130 mg / dL. But in people with heart disease risk factors, LDL levels should be below 100 mg / dL. Whereas in individuals with heart disease or diabetes, LDL levels are recommended below 70 mg / dL.
- Blood sugar levels. Normal blood sugar levels are generally less than 100 mg / dL after not eating (fasting) for at least 8 hours, and less than 140 mg / dL 2 hours after eating.
- Exercise or regular exercise. In addition to helping maintain health, regular exercise for 30-60 minutes a day can help control blood pressure, as well as cholesterol and blood sugar levels. However, in arrhythmia patients and congenital heart abnormalities, you should first consult with your doctor about the duration of safe exercise.
- Eat healthy food. Increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, wheat, and omega-3 fats. In addition, limit consumption of red meat, and avoid foods high in sugar, fat, cholesterol, and salt. Also know the limits of calorie content in food consumed, and try to eat foods that are rich in nutrients and low in calories.
- Keep your ideal weight. Excess weight or obesity can increase the risk of developing heart disease.
- Manage stress well. Long-term stress can cause the heart to work harder. Therefore, as much as possible reduce stress by undergoing physical activity. For example, do exercises that involve muscle breathing and relaxation techniques, such as yoga. Consult your doctor if you often feel confused, depressed, and angry every time you face a problem.
- Maintain cleanliness of the body. Routinely wash your hands, brush your teeth, and avoid contact with people who are having an infectious disease such as the flu.