Understanding Heart Health

For heart diseases, medical care is crucial – to stabilize the condition immediately, control symptoms and provide cure. Unlike a few decades ago, hi-tech treatments have made heart diseases easily curable. However, Understanding heart health is the key to prevent heart diseases and make smart health choices.

Host: Dr. Devi Shetty
Panellists: Dr. Sanjay Mehrotra
What is ASD?

ASD is a congenital heart defect affecting blood flow between the atria (upper chambers) of the heart, that are separated by a dividing wall called inter atrial septum. If this septum is defective, mostly due to the presence of a hole, blood with low levels of oxygen is supplied to the brain, organs and tissues of the body. It can be treated without operation just by inserting a simple device.

What size of ASD can be closed by clip surgery for a 3 month old baby?

Dr. Shetty assures that there is a non-surgical treatment for this type of a heart disease. He says the hole can be closed by inserting a small device, using a catheter procedure, which is safe and quick. It also allows the patient to recover faster. However, for infants with this condition, it is advisable to wait until they reach an age of three or four years before they start treatment, preferably with an expert paediatric cardiologist.

Can arrhythmia be treated by radio frequency ablation (RFA)? Give us proper guidelines.

Arrhythmia, on the other hand, is caused due to rapid or irregular heartbeats. This happens when electric waves between the two ends of the heart are not transmitted through the dedicated pathway, but through alternate channels. Here’s where an electrophysiologist comes into play. These medical experts analyse and identify the problem areas around the heart, and perform Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA). This unique procedure allows high-frequency radio waves to use thermal heat to burn and eliminate the precise location in the heart- from where the arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, originates. This non-surgical procedure is probably the only cardiac treatment that promises a patient complete cure.

Is there any other option other than angioplasty and bypass surgery to remove heart blockage?

Another major heart concern is heart blockages, which can best be treated with coronary angioplasty procedures, unless the blocks are too big and located in several spots. In such a case, surgery would be the better option.

My baby is three years old and is becoming blue while crying. What should we do?

Infants and small children could suffer from Cyanosis, a condition that occurs due to the lack of oxygen that makes babies turn blue while crying, especially around the mouth and face. In such cases, immediate surgery is highly recommended to prevent worst case scenarios. Studies have shown that around one out of 140 babies are born with heart conditions and there is no scientific conclusion as to why this happens. However, some of the reasons could be factors such as the child’s mother being of relatively older age or the child’s mother having rubella, also known as German measles. The chances of the baby being born with a heart disease are high in such cases. Medical hospitals offer foetus echo cardiogram, in order to diagnose the prevalence of such cases, while the baby is still in the mother’s womb.

I have VSD, is there any way that I can cure it?

Although some cardiac conditions depend largely on genetic factors, it is not the case every time. This gives doctors the hope to modify and alter the criticality regardless of certain direct DNA factors. It’s important to know that heart diseases that require Stent interventions should not be ignored, but instead, be treated immediately. The same applies for patients with Ventricular Septal Defects (VST) which is one of the most common congenital heart defects.

What are the basic ways to control high blood pressure, apart from medicine?

Dr. Sanjay and Dr. Shetty believe that medicines should be the last resort to treat any medical condition, especially if patients are below 40 years of age. According to them, with a right diet (mix of carbohydrates, proteins and fats), regular exercise, changes in lifestyle, practicing meditation/yoga, and avoiding shelved foods containing high amounts of preservatives, trans-fatty acids and MSGs, one can easily maintain normal blood pressure levels (120/80) and live a healthy life.

A balanced diet includes the following items, as suggested by Dr. Shetty:

  • Cornflakes and two bananas for breakfast
  • Grilled lean protein with fresh salad for lunch
  • Tea/coffee with skimmed milk
  • Wheat chapatis and lentil soup/channa/ sprouts for dinner

On a lighter note, Dr. Shetty advices patients to avoid curry and rice and even called the latter ‘bad news’.