Dont mind. You can still live
After age 65, 10 of every 1,000 people have heart failure
A well known adhesive brand claims, “it could mend everything but broken hearts”. Well, mending broken hearts of lovers is still not possible medically. But there have been a lot of advancements treating heart disease and failure. Lot of people go into a panic mode, when they learn that they have unrhythmic heart beat, blockage in the heart or suffered a mild attack. What is needed is correct advice at the right time says Dr. Alla Gopala Krishna Gokhale, a Cardiothoracic Surgeon who is a noted name among the medical fraternity in general and cardiothoracic surgeons in India in particular.
Dr. Gokhale who has had the distinction of performing India’s first heart-kidney combined transplant and Andhra Pradesh’s first heart transplant, besides more than 6000 open heart surgeries — adult as well as pediatric and did a good number of minimally invasive cardiac surgeries including Bypass surgeries, Valve replacements, Mediastinoscopy and Endoscopic vein harvesting, etc. has seen hundreds of cases pertaining to heart disease and failure during his career spanning over 25years.
Sharing his knowledge and experience, Dr. Gokhale says that the two most common heart problems are angina (severe pain in the chest and left arm caused by heart disease) and heart failure. Heart failure doesn’t mean that the heart has stopped working, it refers to conditions affecting the functioning of the heart. The inability of the heart to supply sufficient blood flow to meet the body’s needs. Some of the symptoms experienced in such situations are shortness of breath and fatigue, sometimes even without any exertion. Legs and feet swelling is also seen. The term “heart failure” is often incorrectly used to describe other cardiac-related illnesses, such as heart attack or cardiac arrest (myocardial infarction), which can cause heart failure but are not equivalent to heart failure.
Heart Failure is a major and growing health problem in India. The number of people with heart failure is increasing steadily. After age 65, 10 of every 1,000 people have heart failure. Many factors can lead to heart failure. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a major contributor to numerous heart problems and conditions including heart failure: the lifetime risk of heart failure doubles in people whose blood pressure is greater than160 mmHg systolic /90 mmHg diastolic versus those whose blood pressure is less than 140/90 mm Hg.
Many of the behaviors that can lead to heart disease and heart attacks — such as poor diet, lack of physical activity, and substance abuse — also can cause heart failure.
Heart failure itself is not a reversible disease, but there are many treatments that can reverse underlying causes and improve symptoms. Many of the drugs target changes in the body’s hormone status. Some hormones are naturally released by the body in response to heart failure but they can paradoxically either directly or indirectly damage the heart itself.
But now there are better survival rates thanks to the availability of better treatment. There are several options to treat heart disease and heart failure. In some instances, medicines alone will suffice to treat the ailment. If the doctors feel it is vital, then several others procedures can be performed based on the need. Some of these are unheard of before. There are new devices like Left Ventricular Assist Device informed Dr. Gokhale. Left ventricular Assist Device is in existence for the past many years in the western world and is available in India for the past five months. This device is the only emergency option for the bad heart.
This device was recently used to save the life of a patient for the first time in the state of Andhra Pradesh by Dr. Gokhale. These devices can be used on left side or right side or on both sides of the heart based on which side pumping chamber is failing. Basically they take blood coming into that weak chamber and pumps into the body directly thereby doing the work of the heart. This way it gives some rest to the heart allowing it to recover (Bridge to recover) or in case heart is not recovering, it will keep the patient alive till a donor heart is available for heart transplant(Bridge to transplant).
When the heart is badly damaged and unlikely to recover, heart transplantation is another option. In that situation, damaged heart is replaced by a normally working heart taken from the body of a brain dead person. A patient can live as long as 25 years provided some precautions are taken. Dr Gokhale did the first heart transplant in the state of Andhra Pradesh in 2004.
Because there isn’t really a cure for heart failure, your best course of action is to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible by following the advice and treatment plan provided by your doctor. Start by sticking with your medication schedule. If you experience side effects, talk to your doctor quickly. Don’t stop a medication until your doctor says advises.
Dr. Alla Gopala Krishna Gokhale
Heart Transplant & Minimal Access Cardiothoracic Surgeon at Yashoda Hospital, Secunderabad, Chairman, Sahrudaya Health, Medical and Educational Trust Founder Secretary of Heart Failure Society, India Ph: 9391029810