In my opinion the heart is one of the most interesting parts of the body, containing many vessels, valves, arteries, electrical impulses, and chambers. The heart is said to beat around 100,000 times every day and about 3 billion beats in a person’s lifetime. It pumps blood all over the body providing oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, and removing wastes such as carbon dioxide. Though the heart is approximately the size of a big fist, it is the support system of the body. If the heart is unable to deliver blood to the organs and tissues, they will die. The cause of the heart being unable to do its job to supply blood is known as heart disease.
While the heart is a major organ it is also a muscle, meaning it needs an active supply of oxygen and nutrients. Once the blood leaves the heart through the aortic valve, two sets of arteries bring oxygenated blood to nourish the heart. Any obstacle that prevents oxygen from getting to the heart can cause a heart attack or damage to the muscle of the heart. During a heart attack the heart is being severely damaged, but it is still beating. Though a heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest which is when the heart completely stops beating. Treatments for heart attacks include many effective techniques to maintain a healthier heart. Normally patients are put in coronary care units for monitoring and care. Patients are treated with intravenous morphine, catheters, or thrombolytic drugs. Even though heart attacks are one of the top causes of death in America, many people survive them and can usually live a normal life after as long as they abide by what their doctor has told them to do.
Classification of heart disease based on causative factors are in two categories known as congenital and rheumatic. Congenital is heart disease present at birth and are typically due to defects in development of the fetus. One defect is the obstruction of or narrowing of the pulmonary artery which prevents blood from passing in sufficient quantity from the right ventricle to the lungs. Many cases show that several heart defects occur together. The most shared combination is that of four defects known as the tetralogy of Fallot. The victim of this disease is known to have blueness to the skin and to mucous membranes which is caused by a relative lack of oxygen. Recently it has become easier to heal many congenital defects by heart surgery. Rheumatic is heart disease that begins an attack of rheumatic fever in childhood. Streptococcal infections are indirectly responsible for rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease. There is a toxin that is produced by streptococci that causes an immune reaction that will possibly be followed by rheumatic fever a few weeks later. The antibodies that are produced to combat the toxin that attacks the heart valves, which is a condition known as rheumatic endocarditis. During rheumatic endocarditis the heart valves become inflamed which interferes with blood flow. There is an antibiotic treatment, but many children do not get adequate treatment and become a victim to rheumatic heart disease.
The average adult heart beats around sixty to eighty times per minute, meaning that when it does not beat at the average rate complications could occur such as stroke and heart failure. The term for when a heart beats irregularly, whether it beats too fast or too slow, is called arrhythmia. Arrhythmias normally appear when the electrical signals to heart which coordinate heartbeats are not working accurately. Symptoms of arrhythmia depend on which category of irregular heartbeats the patient goes through. A faster heartbeat than usual is known as tachycardia and some symptoms include breathlessness, dizziness, chest pain, and lightheadedness. A slower heartbeat than normal is known as bradycardia and some symptoms of this include chest pain, fatigue, palpitations, and confusion. There are many treatment options for people suffering from tachycardia such as medications, cardioversion, surgery, or therapy. The treatments options for bradycardia normally depend on the underlying condition that might be causing bradycardia. If there is no underlying condition found the doctor may insert a pacemaker.
A heart has four valves that keep blood flowing the appropriate direction. The valves are identified as the mitral valve, the tricuspid valve, the pulmonary valve, and the aortic valve. When one or more these valves are not working properly it is known as heart valve disease. In various cases the valves do not open or close accurately causing the flood flow through the heart to the body to become disrupted. Types of heart valve disease incorporate regurgitation which is when the valves do not close correctly causing blood to leak backwards in the heart, stenosis in which the valve openings become narrow and reduces blood flow, and atresia which is when a solid sheet of tissue blocks the blood flow between the chambers of the heart. Heart valve disease may appear at birth or it can occur in adults due to infections and other heart conditions. Symptoms of heart valve disease include fatigue, swelling of ankles or feet, dizziness, fainting, or a heart murmur. The treatment depends on which valve has been affected and severity of the disease. Sometimes the disease requires surgery to substitute or mend the heart valve.
Although the heart can become a victim of many diseases, doctors have come up with many solutions to heart disease. They have discovered many new drugs and have made great advancements in surgery. Doctors have even transplanted hearts and have even established machines that can momentarily do the functions of the heart. Today, many researchers in cardiology concentrates on learning more about the cause of heart disease to reduce sickness and even death.