There are two main areas of heart disease which form a large part of our work and they often come hand in hand.
Ischaemic Heart Disease (angina and heart attacks)
Ischaemic heart disease occurs due to furring up and damage to the arteries around the heart. This leads to areas of the heart muscle being starved of oxygen which can cause heart pain and ultimately permanent damage to the heart muscle.
Patients are monitored regularly to assess how well their disease is managed and to limit further damage to the heart and the blood vessels. This includes regular urine and blood tests to assess kidney function and cholesterol. We also monitor height and weight.
Most patients are routinely started on a combination of drugs to reduce the risk of further damage or symptoms. These include aspirin which is only recommended for people with know heart disease only. People without heart disease should avoid aspirin.
People with kidney disease should exercise, not smoke, control their weight and follow a healthy diet which is low in fat, sugar and salt. The British Heart Foundation is an excellent resource for people wishing to learn more about heart disease and its prevention.
Heart failure is a rather dramatic term to describe the situation when a heart no longer functions as an efficient pump. This can arise for a variety of reasons such as damaged valves or problems with the way electrical signals pass through the heart. Muscle damage from heart attacks can also cause heart failure.
Symptoms range from mild ankle swelling to severe shortness of breath. The diagnosis is made using blood tests and an ultrasound examination called an echocardiogram.
Most people with heart failure can be treated using medication. In rare cases a transplant may be necessary.
All patients with heart failure are monitored regularly at Summercroft with close attention paid to blood tests and blood pressure.