Heart Injuries
 The heart is a complex organ and is vital for survival

Heart Injuries, what are they?

Heart injuries are quite common and vary from infections of heart valves to fat accumulation in the coronary vessels.

The heart is a complex organ and is vital for survival. The basic function of the heart is to supply blood to the rest of the body. This intricate organ is also prone to a variety of medical disorders. The heart is located just behind the rib cage under the left breast nipple and is quite prone to injury. Both penetrating ad blunt trauma can cause damage to the heart. Most cases of blunt injuries can be managed by conservative care. However, penetrating trauma like a knife wound or a gunshot usually requires more aggressive treatment including surgery.
The heart valves are also prone to infections known as endocarditis. Infection of heart valves are most common in people who are born with defective valves, use intravenous drugs or develop valvular defects later in life. Infection of heart valves is a life threatening condition and requires immediate treatment with antibiotics and in some cases surgery.

Rheumatic fever (RF) is caused by a common bacterium and easily treated with penicillin. This disorder has subsided in Western countries but is still quite common in underdeveloped countries. The recent mass immigration of people from third world countries has seen a resurgence of this infection in North America. RF can lead to severe infections of the heart valves and usually requires surgical replacement of the deformed valve.

The heart is surrounded by a thin fibrous lining known as the pericardium. This lining can get infected or inflamed. When the pericardium is inflamed the individual will have a low grade fever and chest pain. Pericarditis can also develop after a heart attack and is treated with a non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug or antibiotics.

The heart muscle can sometimes get infected with a variety of viruses. Known as myocarditis, this infection of heart muscle is quite rare but can be very serious. This disorder can present with difficulty in breathing, chest discomfort, swelling of the legs and fluid in the lungs. While some cases can be treated with drugs, other individuals may need support with an artificial heart/transplantation.

The most common medical disorder to affect the heart is coronary artery disease. When fat accumulates in tiny vessels that supply to the oxygen to the heart, blood supply to the heart can be compromised. When the heart fails to receive blood, it causes pain which is medically known as angina. Some people develop angina while exercising or walking. However, there are individuals who develop angina while are at rest and this is termed unstable angina. The investigation of angina involves an ECG, blood work, and a radiological dye study to look at the status of the coronary vessels.

Hyperglycemia simply means high blood sugar. High levels of blood sugar are known to increase the rate of atherosclerosis and can narrow blood vessels all over the body. Individuals who have uncontrolled blood sugars often develop heart attacks, strokes and decreased blood supply to the legs.

In most cases, heart injuries like coronary disease can be prevented by adopting changes in lifestyle, exercising and eating healthy.

More heart disease related web pages: Heart Failure | Acute Heart Pain


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