When anyone hears this “You have a heart problem…”, there is a sudden sunken feeling. “Now what? Is my life over? Will I be dependent on others for my daily activities?” A thousand such questions pop-up in our mind. The reality however, is not that grim.
With the advances in science, we are learning more about the human body every day. The specialization which works on the heart problems (cardiology) has evolved very rapidly in last few decades due to which many heart problems now can be taken care of with a combination of lifestyle adjustments, medications and non-surgical procedures. The ultimate aim of any scientific discovery is to cure a disease. If that is not possible, we try to provide a long and self-reliant life to the patient combining different treatment forms.
Every individual is familiar with “heart attack”. We hear about it in our day-to-day life, media, entertainment…everywhere. This “heart attack” is a problem with blood vessels of the heart. As we breathe and eat food to survive, the heart takes its nourishment via the blood vessels that are supplying blood to it. If any of these big vessels get blocked, that part of the heart doesn’t get the required nourishment and may die. This is what is called a “heart attack”. If the patient receives treatment in time, the heart can be saved to a large extent.
Another problem that heart patients may face is – heart rhythm problem. These arise from problems in the electrical system (conduction system) of the heart. This may be in the form of awareness of one’s own heartbeat, which is called as “palpitations” or in the form of greying of vision, with or without loss of consciousness, which is called as “pre-syncope” or “syncope”. The “heart rhythm problem” may be identified with a simple electrocardiogram or ECG. If the heart beats are low, it’s called “bradycardia”; if the beats are more, it’s called “tachycardia”. There is a myriad of heart rhythm problems which require the attention of a heart rhythm specialist – cardiac electrophysiologist. This is a subspecialty of cardiology which deals with heart rhythm problems and patients with decreased heart function.
A significant proportion of these rhythm problems can be cured completely now-a-days with the use of special procedures – electrophysiology study and ablation. The patients who undergo this procedure successfully do not require any medications for the heart rhythm problem in the future, especially if treated early in the disease process. The patients who suffer from these heart rhythm problems and have a decreased heart function may need a longer course of treatment with medications even after the ablation procedure. The advantage of the ablation procedure in these patients is the requirement for medications and hospital admissions reduce after the procedure and the quality of life improves.
So, you don’t have to live with the heart rhythm problem anymore. There are specialized treatments available which may either cure or substantially reduce your problems. In many patients it adds years to life, in others it adds life to the years.