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Heart

Cardiac/Heart Information

A number of conditions can affect the heart and blood vessels. The most common being coronary heart disease, this condition causes most of the common diseases affecting the heart (e.g. angina and heart attacks).

  • Acute Coronary Syndromes
  • Angina - Cardiac Chest Pain
  • Acute Myocardial Infarction - Heart Attack

You may hear the term revascularisation. This is heart surgery and other "interventions".

The majority of people with heart failure will have had angina or a heart attack, although it may also be caused by other situations which can damage the heart muscle e.g. too much alcohol, viruses or a disease of the heart muscle known as Cardiomyopathy.

Conditions that put an added strain on the heart may also lead to heart failure e.g. high blood pressure, problems with the heart valves.

The symptoms of heart failure vary considerably and it may be difficult for your doctor to diagnose this condition. If heart failure is suspected, the diagnosis may be confirmed using a special ultrasound test – Echocardiogram.

The most common signs and symptoms of heart failure are

  • Extreme Tiredness
  • Breathlessness
  • Swelling of the ankles and lower legs
  • Other symptoms may also include loss of appetite, feeling sick, constipation, poor memory, dizziness and disturbed sleep.

Treatment of heart failure is often a combination of lifestyle changes (e.g. healthy diet, maintaining a sensible body weight, reducing alcohol and salt intake, for smokers – Stop!) combined with medication. There are a number of drugs used to treat the symptoms of heart failure and these are often used in combination. Some examples of these are listed below.

  • Water tablets/Diuretics
  • ACE inhibitors 
  • Beta Blockers
  • Digoxin
  • Blood thinners/Anticoagulants

Other treatments, including surgery may be used to treat symptoms that are not controlled by medication. If the heart failure is due to a problem with a heart valve an operation to repair or replace the faulty valve may dramatically improve your symptoms.