At Home with Chris Jessen 2018 - 91

H E A RT H E A LT H ▲

65 or older, with men at greater risk
than women. Other risks include a
family history of heart disease, high
blood pressure, high cholesterol,
diabetes, smoking, lack of exercise
and being overweight or obese.
TREATMENT

Poor lifestyle
choices
now mean
everyone
is at risk
of heart
disease. All
too often
people think
"low risk" is
"no risk" but
this isn't true

TREATMENT

Drugs such as angiotensin-converting
enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta-blockers
and diuretics are often used to treat
heart failure. A pacemaker may be
fitted to send electrical signals to the
heart, so that it beats at a specific rate.
It is usually implanted under the skin
of the upper chest.
Another procedure for heart failure,
called cardiac re-synchronisation
therapy, restores the normal pumping
action of the heart. A specific type
of pacemaker is fitted, which has
a number of leads connected to it
that monitor the heart rate. When it
detects an irregularity, it emits tiny
electrical pulses to correct it.
A third option is an implantable
cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).
Similar to a pacemaker, this small
battery-powered device is usually
implanted under the collarbone and
gives the heart electrical shocks. A
new type of ICD is now available
called a subcutaneous (under the skin)
ICD, or SICD. This works in the same
way, but is inserted just under the skin
of the chest, outside of the ribcage.

WHAT CAUSES IT?

The most common cause is coronary
heart disease, which accounts for
seven out of ten cases of heart failure.
Other causes are high blood pressure,

...AROUND
70 T I M E S A
MINUTE, ALL
DAY, EVERY DAY
...MORE THAN
TWO AND A
HALF BILLION
TIMES BY THE
TIME YOU
REACH YOUR
70 T H B I R T H D A Y
... O V E R 10 0 ,0 0 0
TIMES EVERY
DAY, PUMPING
AROUND
7,200 L I T R E S
OF BLOOD
AROUND YOUR
BODY (ENOUGH
TO FILL A
PADDLING
POOL)
...FASTER IF YOU
ARE A WOMAN,
BY ALMOST
8 BEATS A
MINUTE ON
AVERAGE

HEART FAILURE

When the heart isn't pumping blood
around the body as well as it once did
it is known as heart failure. This can
happen suddenly or develop over
months or years. The most common
cause is a damaged heart muscle,
often after a heart attack. This
damage may weaken the heart, but
it doesn't mean it is about to stop.
What it does mean is the pumping
action may be weaker, which can
make it difficult for the heart to
pump as much blood and oxygen as
the body needs. Symptoms include
breathlessness, when you're resting or
during exercise; swollen feet, ankles
or abdomen; extreme tiredness; feeling
sick; losing or gaining weight.

YOUR
HEART
BEATS...

IMAGES: GETTY IMAGES

DR
CHRISTIAN
SAYS

Beta-blockers reduce the amount of
work the heart has to do by slowing
the heart rate. This makes them
effective in preventing an angina
attack. If the condition is more serious,
a medical procedure may be necessary.
As well as stents, an operation
called coronary angioplasty might be
undertaken to open up clogged arteries,
allowing blood to flow more easily.
During angioplasty, a catheter is
inserted into an artery in either the
arm or the groin and then, using a
screen for guidance, it is pushed up
to the heart and into the affected
coronary artery until its tip reaches
the blocked section. A balloon
mounted on the end of the catheter
is then inflated, flattening the fatty
deposits. A stent may also be inserted
at this point to prevent re-narrowing.
If a coronary angioplasty is not
suitable, a surgical procedure known
as a coronary artery bypass graft
(CABG) may be considered. A CABG
involves taking a blood vessel from
another part of the body, usually the
chest or leg, to use as a graft. Blood is
then diverted away from the narrowed
artery and through the grafted vessel
instead, which improves flow and the
supply of oxygen to the heart.

atrial fibrillation (when your heart
beats too hard in an irregular rhythm),
excessive alcohol and diabetes.

www.athomemagazine.co.uk FEBRUARY 2018 | 091



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