Conditions, Treatments and Procedures

Conditions and Treatments

Please click on the name of a condition to view its definition and treatment options.

Angina

Aortic Dissection

Atherosclerosis

Atrial Fibrillation

Carotid Artery Disease

Congestive Heart Failure

 

Coronary Artery Spasm

Heart Murmur

Heart Palpitations

High Blood Pressure

High Cholesterol

Mitral Valve Prolapse

 

Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)

Pericarditis

Peripheral Artery Disease

Pulmonary Embolism

Tachycardia

Angina

Angina is a feeling of tightness or pain in the chest that happens when the heart does not get enough oxygen-rich blood.

Treatment: Often, symptoms can be controlled with medicine. Angina caused by blocked arteries can be treated with balloon angioplasty or coronary artery bypass graft surgery. When caused by coronary artery disease, angina treatment should involve lifestyle changes, including:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Losing weight
  • Getting more regular exercise, as prescribed by your health care provider
  • Lowering your blood pressure (if high)
  • Lowering your blood cholesterol (if high)
  • Lowering your blood sugar (if high)

Aortic Dissection

Aortic Dissection is a condition that occurs when blood gets through a tear in the inner layer of the aorta.

Treatment: Aortic dissection is a medical emergency; treatment should be started as soon as possible in the intensive care unit of a hospital. In some cases, you will be given a sedative and fast-acting IV medicine to lower high blood pressure. In other cases, you may need surgery to replace the weakened part of the aorta with a graft of man-made material.

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a hardening of arteries.

Treatment: Depending on your symptoms, medication may be prescribed or surgery or angioplasty may be necessary. You should also consider lifestyle changes, such as exercising and having your blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly, to halt or reverse build up of plaque in your arteries.

Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation is a heart rhythm disturbance.

Treatment: Depends on the severity of your symptoms. If your symptoms are mild, medication is administered. If mediation is not effective or your symptoms are more severe, you may be treated with cardioversion (electrical shock). The electrical shock quickly causes your heart to begin beating normally again.

Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid Artery Disease is a condition that causes carotid arteries to become narrow or blocked.

Treatment: If you have some blockage of the artery but have no symptoms, you can usually be treated with drugs. If you have symptoms and are more than a 70 percent blockage of a carotid artery, you will likely need surgery.

Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive Heart Failure is when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. It occurs when blood begins to back up because the heart is not pumping well and the veins, tissues and lungs become congested with fluid.

Treatment: Treatment often includes medication and a special low-sodium diet. Goals of treatment are:

  • Reduce the workload on your heart
  • Get rid of extra water in your body
  • Improve the ability of your heart to pump
  • Treat any problems that make your condition worse

Limits on your activity will depend on how severe your heart failure is. Most people benefit from a gentle exercise program.

Coronary Artery Spasm

Coronary artery spasm is a sudden, temporary tightening of the muscles in the artery wall.

Treatment: The general treatment is to prevent or control symptoms. You and your health care provider will help you develop a treatment plan that includes:

  • Stopping the use of drugs that cause spasms
  • Taking medicine to help prevent spasm
  • Reviewing your lifestyle and habits to reduce your risk for heart disease
  • Having request follow-up appointments to check your progress

Heart Murmur

A heart murmur is an extra or unusual sound heard during a heartbeat.

Treatment: Innocent murmurs do not need treatment. Treatment of other types of murmurs depends on your symptoms; the risk of heart damage over time if the abnormality is not corrected; and the risk of sudden complications, such as stroke or cardiac arrest. Treatment also depends on the cause of the murmur. If the murmur is caused by high blood pressure, you may be given medicines; if it is caused by a valve problem, you may need surgery.

Heart Palpitations

Treatment: Treatment of palpitations depends on the cause. Most often, no treatment is needed because the heart is otherwise normal. Drinking less or no coffee or alcohol may be all the treatment you need. If the palpitations become frequent and you also experience chest pain, breathlessness or dizziness, you may have another medical problem that your health care provider can identify and treat.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a common condition in which the force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.

Treatment: You may be able to bring your blood pressure down without medication by making some lifestyle modifications, such as exercising and changing your diet. If you do need medication to help lower your blood pressure, it is important to:

  • Take the medication regularly and exactly as prescribed
  • Tell your health care provider about any side effects right away
  • Have regular follow-up visits with your health care provider

High Cholesterol

High cholesterol is a condition where too much cholesterol is circulating through your body which could lead to heart disease if not properly addressed.

Treatment: You can help lower your cholesterol by:

  • Getting more exercise, especially aerobic exercise; ask your health care provider for an exercise prescription to achieve the best results and avoid injury
  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain a normal body weight
  • Have your cholesterol levels and weight checked by your health care provider on a regular basis

Mitral Valve Prolapse

Mitral Valve Prolapse is a bulging of the mitral valve when the heart contracts.

Treatment: Most people do not need treatment because the prolapse is not causing serious problems. However, if the heart rhythm abnormalities in mitral valve prolapse sometimes become very uncomfortable, drugs such as beta blockers, may be helpful. Prolapsed heart valves can also become infected more easily than normal valves, speeding valve damage.

Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)

Myocardial infarction, commonly known as a heart attack, is the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die.

Treatment: Heart attacks require immediate hospital treatment. The exact treatment will depend on how you feel, how much heart muscle is damaged, and how much the arteries in your heart are blocked or narrowed.

Pericarditis

Pericarditis is inflammation of the thin layer of membrane that covers the heart.

Treatment: Treatment is usually aspirin every 3 to 4 hours and/or a nonsteroidal medicine. Your health care provider may prescribe steroid drugs if pericarditis is a complication of a heart attack, connective tissue disease or metabolic problem. You can also take nonprescription drugs such as acetaminophen for relief of minor aches and pains.

Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral Artery Disease is the hardening and narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the arms and legs.

Treatment: The first important step is to manage any risk factor; for example, you may need to change your diet, reduce your blood pressure or lower the levels of fats in your blood.

Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary Embolism is a blood clot that blocks an artery in your lungs.

Treatment:This condition requires hospitalization, and treatment depends on the results of lab tests, symptoms and from where the embolism comes. Many pulmonary embolisms can be treated with blood thinners; more severe cases may require surgery.

Tachycardia

Tachycardia is a fast heart rate.

Treatment: Treatment ranges from medication to electrical shock, depending on the type of tachycardia you have

Procedures

Abnormal aortic aneurysmectomy and grafting

Abdominal aortic aneurysmectomy and grafting is a procedure to repair or remove an aneurysm in the aorta (the main artery from the heart to the body). An aneurysm is a weak spot that balloons out from the wall of a blood vessel. Aneurysms can burst and cause internal bleeding. If this happens, you may need emergency surgery to save your life.

Angioplasty

Angioplasty is the technique of mechanically widening a narrowed or obstructed blood vessel, typically as a result of atherosclerosis.

Angiograms

An angiogram is an X-ray test that uses a special dye and camera to take pictures of the blood flow in an artery or a vein.

Ask the Doctor

Would you like more information about your condition? Please check our our Ask the Doctor series where Dr. Louis Coulis answers your questions.

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