At the center of the body, your heart impacts your health in more ways than one. It literally keeps the organs, tissues and muscles functioning properly by constantly supplying them with blood, so when something is wrong with the heart, the entire body can be affected.
Millions of people are diagnosed with heart and vascular conditions every year, and many more people have risk factors for such diseases. For those in the Mid-South, Baptist Memorial Health Care is proud to have the expertise to treat several common cardiovascular conditions in our technologically-advanced Baptist Heart Institute. If you have been diagnosed with a certain heart and vascular condition, or you're at risk for one, learn more about the conditions we treat below:
When a person has a bulging or a weakness in the wall of a blood vessel, it could be an aneurysm. This condition is most dangerous if it gets larger and ruptures. It can happen in any artery throughout the body, but it most commonly occurs in the abdominal aorta and the arteries located at the base of the brain. Symptoms are rare and if they do occur, treatment should be sought as quickly as possible.
Symptoms: Severe headache, dizziness, nausea, light sensitivity, stiff neck, thunderclap headache, vomiting.
When the heart experiences reduced blood supply, it may lead to pain in the chest known as angina. This can be caused by atherosclerosis (described further below) and can extend to the left arm, shoulder or jaw. Usually angina is temporarily relieved by rest.
Symptoms: Shortness of breath and sweating, pain in the chest, shoulder, middle back area, throat, neck or jaw.
When the heart doesn't beat properly, like beating too fast, skipping beats or beating too slow, it may be a heart arrhythmia. The most common form of arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation (AFib), and this is also the most serious. Undiagnosed and untreated AFib can lead to life-threatening health problems, including stroke. Other arrhythmias include atrial flutter, ventricular arrhythmias (tachycardia and fibrillation), bradyarrhythmias, and arrhythmias in children.
Symptoms: A fluttering feeling in the chest; racing heartbeat (tachycardia); slow heartbeat (bradycardia); chest pain; shortness of breath; lightheadedness; dizziness; fainting.
This categorizes diseases of the heart muscle. It can occur as a result of an infection or other health problems, or it can be genetic. A common form of cardiomyopathy is an enlarged heart, known as idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy. Other types can involve the thickening of the heart muscle, loss of heart muscle and more.
Symptoms: Chest pain; dizziness; fatigue; loss of appetite; bloating or fluid in the abdomen; coughing; shortness of breath; swelling in the extremities; weight gain.
Coronary heart disease
This is the most common heart and vascular condition, and it encompasses coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease and carotid artery disease. These conditions occur in the arteries that supply blood to the heart when plaque builds up and blocks or narrows the arteries. Specifically, this plaque build-up is called atherosclerosis.
Symptoms: Unusual fatigue, sleep disturbance, shortness of breath, indigestion.
Also called myocardial infarction, a heart attack happens when the blood supply to heart is stopped. While dangerous, heart attacks are not always fatal, but even if treatment is sought quickly, a heart attack can lead to long-term damage in the heart.
Symptoms: Severe central chest pain which can extend to the left arm, shoulder or jaw. Shortness of breath, sweating, feeling faint.
When the heart muscle is injured, it can gradually lead to heart failure. A variety of factors can lead to this condition, such as high blood pressure, a heart attack, or even a heart valve that isn't working properly. Heart failure occurs when the weakened heart has to work too hard to keep up with the body's demands.
Symptoms: Shortness of breath; trouble breathing when lying down; swelling in the legs; ankles or feet; general fatigue and weakness.
Stroke is a vascular condition that occurs when a blood vessel becomes blocked, usually by a blood clot. This deprives certain areas of the brain of oxygen, which can cause long-term damage and disability. There are three types of strokes: ischemic stroke (the most common), hemorrhagic stroke and transient ischemic attacks (TIAs).
Symptoms: Drooping facial muscles; weakness is an arm; slurred speech; sudden severe headache; partial or total loss of consciousness; vomiting or severe nausea; sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg.
Valvular heart disease
When the valves in the heart are damaged by things like rheumatic fever, infections, connective tissue disorders, radiation treatments or medications, a person may develop valvular heart disease. This can include narrowing, leaking or prolapsing (not closing properly) of the valves and can be dangerous.
Symptoms: Chest pain; rapid or unusual heart rhythm; shortness of breath; trouble catching your breath; fatigue; weakness or inability to maintain regular activity level; lightheadedness or loss of consciousness; swollen ankles, feet or abdomen.