Possible signs of heart dysfunction and the treatment

There is a considerable amount of variation in symptoms seen in patients with cardiac diseases. It majorly depends on the type of disease one is suffering from.

The heart pumps blood to all body parts; therefore, any derangement in its function can cause massive symptoms associated with central and peripheral systems.

Possible signs of heart dysfunction
05 August 2022

11 Common signs of an unhealthy heart and the related structures include:

  • Chest pain, tightness, and discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain radiating to arms and jaws
  • Pain, numbness, and weakness in your legs
  • Racing heartbeat/ Slow heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, syncope
  • Pale grey skin discoloration
  • Swelling of hands, ankles, and knees
  • Early fatigue
  • Breathlessness at rest
  • Dry or persistent cough


What is a Cardiothoracic Surgery?

Cardio means heart while thoracic means thoracic cavity. Cardiothoracic surgeons not only perform cardiac surgeries but also the organs in the thoracic cavity, including the lungs and the mediastinal structures.


Additionally, the surgery of blood vessels and congenital heart disease also fall in a similar category.


The field of cardiothoracic surgery has undergone a remarkable transition in the latest century with the introduction of minimally invasive & endovascular procedures. CABG (coronary Artery Bypass Graft) accounts for 80% of total cardiothoracic surgery.


What are the different categories of cardiac surgeries in adults and children?


There are different cardiac surgical procedures for adults and children:

  • Valvular surgery
  • Congenital heart surgery (Cyanotic & Acyanotic)
  • Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG)
  • Aortic surgery
  • Minimally Invasive Surgery
  • Endovascular surgery
  • Left ventricular assist device (LVAD)
  • Myectomy
  • Transmyocardial revascularization
  • Heart transplant


What are the complications of cardiac surgery?


Every procedure comes with its own complications, and so does cardiothoracic surgery. The major complications associated are:

  • Heart Attack
  • Arrhythmias
  • Stroke
  • Bleeding
  • Wound Infection
  • Acute Kidney Injury
  • Pulmonary Infections
  • Prolonged need for mechanical ventilation


Cardiac complications for diabetic patients

There exists a close link between diabetes mellitus and cardiac diseases. Certain cardiovascular risk factors like obesity, high blood pressure, and high LDL are common in patients with diabetes mellitus.


The common cardiac problems seen in diabetic patients are:

  • Coronary atherosclerosis
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Insulin reaction
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Wound Infections
  • Cardiovascular collapse


Are Heart diseases hereditary? What precautions should be taken by those with heart diseases in their family?

Inherited heart disease is an umbrella term for several cardiomyopathies that pass from parents to their children.


Such diseases usually occur primarily with a faulty gene present in either or both parents.


The inherited conditions include:

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Idiopathic or familial dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy
  • Marfan’s syndrome
  • Long QT syndrome
  • Short QT syndrome
  • Brugada syndrome
  • Sudden Cardiac death syndrome


Inherited conditions lead to arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.


So, it’s recommended that when a family member is diagnosed with a heart condition, the other family members must undergo screening to figure out the risk factor at an early age.


What lifestyle modification should one make to avoid heart diseases?

Primarily, a healthy weight and an active lifestyle positively contribute to improving your overall heart health.


Here’s how you can do it:


1) Manage your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and pre-diabetes:


An excessive amount of LDL (low-density lipoproteins) and fewer levels of HDL (high-density lipoproteins) majorly contributes to altered cholesterol levels in the body. Eating processed foods and consuming high levels of saturated fats increases LDL levels, causing plaque formation in the blood vessels. So, make fresh and minimally processed foods part of your diet.


Hypertension (high blood pressure) causes excessive strain on the blood vessels leading to their constriction. Ultimately, it puts a strain on the heart.


Prediabetes is caused by high blood sugar levels with high blood pressure and triglycerides. It is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke, eye damage, and end-stage renal disease.


2) Say goodbye to your sedentary lifestyle:


No exercise routine is known to 2x the risk of heart disease. Even a 30-minutes low term exercise each day has significantly improved heart health.


3) Drink lots of water:


The proper amount of hydration is not only good for your skin but also good for the heart. Since your blood is made up of 55% of water, dehydration can cause a decrease in the volume of the blood. It can too cause a significant amount of strain on the heart.


4) Stop smoking and reduce alcohol intake:


Smoking is known to quadruple the risk of heart disease and stroke. It damages the blood vessels by deposition of tar in the inner layer, causing atherosclerosis.


On the other hand, excessive alcohol consumption also exacerbates the risk factor due to intoxication.


5) Use Heart Health Supplements:


Certain vitamins and minerals like Vitamin D3, Niacin, Vitamin K2, Vitamin C, Magnesium, and fiber are known to improve heart health.


Heart diseases are silent killers if they happen in adulthood and elderly age.


Therefore, one must be aware of his heart’s health by never ignoring the cardinal heart symptoms that occur at any stage of life.



About the Surgeon


Dr. Rafat Shakil, Consultant of Cardiothoracic Surgery is one of the most competent cardiac surgeons and has extensive experience in cardiac surgeries at the world’s famous Mazankowski Heart Institute, University of Alberta, Canada. His area of expertise is Aortic and Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgeries.


About the department


The Foundation of the Cardiovascular and Cardiothoracic Surgery Department at RMI is based on Dr. Rehman's legacy of innovation in healthcare. The department functions in a multidisciplinary manner for definitive diagnosis and superior treatment options. With the help of the supporting infrastructure, the department aims to dedicate the collective efforts of the experts to research and provide services at par with international standards to cure cardiovascular diseases via invasive procedures.