What are Cardiac problems?
Cardiac problems refer to disorders, diseases or malfunctioning of the heart and its supporting blood delivery system (the veins and arteries – blood vessels).
The cardiac problems are categorized into:
Electrical cardiac problems are a result of a defective electrical system which controls the heartbeat. This results in the heart beating significantly faster or abnormally slower. It also results in the heart beats becoming infrequent or unsteady. At times, serious irregular heartbeats (such as arrhythmia) are known to develop into severe heart problems, including cardiac arrest.
Circulatory cardiac problems are related to the blood circulation system of the body. In this type of cardiac disorder, the patient suffers from high blood pressure and coronary artery disease (obstruction in passageways in the heart). These are known to result in stroke, heart attack and even be fatal if left undiagnosed and untreated for long.
Structural cardiac disorders affect the structure of the heart, including birth defects, cardiac muscle issues or valve malfunctioning.
What are the types of Cardiac Treatments?
There are a large variety of cardiac treatments available today. These are mostly surgical procedures (conventional and minimally invasive) that are aimed at treating the cause of the heart problems.
These are some of the most commonly performed cardiac treatment procedures:
Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Surgery
The CABG surgery is the most common treatment for circulatory cardiac disorders. As coronary heart disease is caused due to the accumulation of plaque (hardened waxy substance) inside the coronary arteries (blood vessel supplying blood to the heart) the CABG procedure aims to clear the obstruction.
In this surgery, the cardiac surgeon will use a healthy vein or artery (usually from the patient’s leg) to act as a replacement for the blocked coronary artery. This grafted blood vessel is connected to bypass the obstructed portion of the original coronary artery and restore normal circulation of blood in the heart.
Heart Valve Replacement surgery
This is an innovative and precise cardiac surgical treatment procedure. This surgery is required to replace a faulty heart valve and prevent the blood from flowing back in to the portion of the heart it has exited.
To treat a faulty valve, the cardiac surgeon will advise repairing the original valve or to replace it with an artificial valve implant. The artificial valve implant is made with biological material as well as some artificial substances.
A minimally invasive cardiac valve surgery involves the cardiac surgeon making a small incision (1-2 mm) into the abdomen. A catheter (small and flexible tube) is inserted into the abdomen and guided to the heart through the blood vessels. The cardiac surgeons will use advanced imaging techniques to guide the catheter to the malfunctioning heart valve.
The catheter has an inflatable surgical balloon attached at the far end. When the catheter is precisely guided and stationed over the malfunctioning heart valve, the surgeon will gently inflate and deflate the balloon several times. This allows the malfunctioning heart valve to become wider and allow improved blood flow. This is an efficient minimally invasive cardiac surgical procedure which is used worldwide today for its efficiency in treatment and faster recovery.
When the heartbeats are not regular and normal, then the person is suffering from a type of arrhythmia. Initially, the doctor will attempt medicinal drugs to improve the condition, however, if these fail, then the doctor may advise cardiac surgical treatments.
There are various types of cardiac surgical treatments for arrhythmia, such as:
- Pacemaker – This is an artificial electrical implant device which is surgically implanted under the patient’s skin of the abdomen or the chest. Fine wires help connect the pacemaker device to the four chambers of your heart. The device emits low-energy electrical impulses to the heart through the connecting wires that help the heart to beat in a normal rhythm.
- Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) – This is an advanced surgical implant device which is comparatively smaller than a pacemaker and implanted under the skin of the chest or abdomen. Fine electrical wires connect the device to the chambers of the heart. The smart sensor in the ICD detects abnormal heart rhythm and activates immediately restore it to normal level.
- Maze surgery – This is an innovative cardiac surgery. In this, the cardiac surgeon will create artificial paths for the electrical signals of the heart to travel across better. It is also known as ‘Atrial Fibrillation’ and is most useful in treating severe forms of arrhythmia.
An aneurysm is seen in the form of an abnormal bulge in the wall of the artery or in the heart muscles. This is usually seen as a result of weakening of the artery walls. The pressure exerted by the flowing blood inside it causes the weakened portion of the artery to bulge out significantly. If left unnoticed and untreated for long enough, this aneurysm risks rupturing (breaking) and result in fatal hemorrhage (internal bleeding).
The cardiac surgeon uses an artificial patch or tissue graft to reinforce the weakened portion of the artery wall and prevent the aneurysm from rupturing.
A heart transplant is one of the biggest cardiac surgeries. This involves the cardiac surgeon removing a malfunctioning heart and replacing it with an implanted healthy donor heart.
This is an extensive cardiac surgery and is mostly the last resort to treat serious cardiac conditions (such as last-stage heat failure). It is advised when other alternate treatment methods have proven unsuccessful in treating the condition.