WITH the pandemic raging round the world, keeping an eye on your health has become more important than ever.
Do not brush off constant fatigue, shortness of breath or chest pains. These could be early indicators of an underlying cardiovascular condition which, if left untreated, could have serious implications.
So, talk to your doctor soon if you have the symptoms.
One condition commonly affecting the elderly is aortic valve stenosis. A narrowing of the aortic valve, it affects blood flow from the heart to the body. In severe cases, it can be life-threatening.
At Gleneagles Hospital Penang, a quick and minimally invasive TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement) procedure can effectively treat the condition.
Interventional cardiology consultant Dr Annamalar Muthu said TAVRs are gaining popularity as a less invasive option for many patients (even low or intermediate-risk ones) compared to traditional open-heart surgery.
“TAVR is a safer and effective alternative,” she shared.
The procedure typically takes around 90 minutes. Patients are sedated, but not under general anaesthesia. This “minimalist approach” allows for a faster recovery, with many patients able to sit up and eat the same day.
Dr Annamalar said TAVR has revolutionised the treatment of aortic valve stenosis.
Another condition affecting many people is arrhythmia. It’s where the heart beats irregularly, too quickly or too slowly. Whilst most cases are harmless, some are medical emergencies. So, if your heart ever skipped a beat (or added one), it is best to consult a doctor.
Gleneagles Hospital Penang has a team specialising in cardiac electrophysiology, which treats such abnormal heart rhythms, headed by electrophysiologist and interventional cardiologist Dr Ng Jit Beng.
Dr Ng said the most common types of arrhythmias include bradycardias (abnormally slow heartbeats), tachycardias (abnormally fast heartbeats), atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat in the upper chambers), atrial or ventricular ectopic beats (extra heartbeats in the upper or lower chambers) and palpitations (sensations of noticeably fast, strong, or irregular heartbeats).
A healthy heart beats smoothly, with a normal resting rate of between 60 and 100 beats a minute. When it goes out of rhythm, blood supply to vital organs can be affected.
Common causes of arrhythmias include a heart attack, heart disease, blocked arteries, high blood pression and diabetes, with smoking, drug abuse, stress or anxiety, alcohol consumption and genetics contributory factors.
“We have various methods to diagnose arrhythmias, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiogram, Holter monitor, loop recorder implant or electrophysiology study (EPS). Treatments options include pacemakers, cardioversion and catheter ablation.
“But most cases of arrhythmia can easily be treated with medication or minor lifestyle changes,” said Dr Ng, who also advised people eat healthily, exercise, manage stress and keep cholesterol and blood pressure under control to maintain a healthy heart.
Gleneagles Hospital Penang has one of the most experienced teams of cardiac specialists in the country, and is equipped with cutting-edge facilities to provide a wide array of heart care services including non-invasive and invasive cardiac diagnosis and therapies, cardiothoracic surgeries and paediatric cardiology services.