Congenital Heart Disease and Physical Therapy

Congenital heart diseases refers to the structural (anatomical) or physiological defects in the normal functioning of the heart as a result of birth defects that may be diagnosed soon after birth or may take years to produce full blown cardiac insufficiency. Valvular heart defects form the most common variety of congenital cardiac defect that is associated with high morbidity and mortality in adult years if no management options are employed. This is because the metabolic demands of the body increase with growth and development that poses more pressure on the heart leading to cardiac failure or circulatory deficits. With overall prevalence of 26.6%, it was suggested that only 12.1% cases can be detected by clinical evaluation. Among the most prevalent congenital cardiac defects, ventricular septal abnormalities comprise 17.3% of all congenital anomalies followed by atrial septal defects (6.0%) and other less common cardiac diseases. The mortality is highest with cyanotic heart diseases.

According to the research statistics reported by Julien I.E Hoffman, over 1 million patients were born with congenital heart defects (during 1940 to 2002). Considering the quality of medical services and surgical/ medical advancements, Hoffman suggested that the total number of survivors with mild heart disease (who may reach well into adulthood) is 750,000 with mild heart disease, 400,000 with moderate heart disease and 180,000 with severe disease (with treatment). Without any management or treatment the survival rate may fall to 400,000 with mild disease, 220,000 with moderate disease, and 30,000 with severe heart disease, suggesting very high mortality.

Congenital heart diseases are also associated with stunted growth and development in children marked by poor weight gain, failure to thrive and frequent hospitalizations while growing up. In addition, these children also develop frequent episodes of shortness of breath, rapid heart rate (also known as tachycardia) and attacks of fatigue associated with decreased exercise endurance.
Physical therapy and mild exercises are helpful in the growth and development of children born with congenital heart disease. It is extremely important not to initiate exercise therapies in these children without seeking the guidance from registered physical therapists who work in coordination with the pediatric cardiologist to deliver best exercise regimens in order to optimize health without overloading the heart. Generally, children and adults can perform moderate static exercises of mild intensity without any complications; however, healthcare providers strongly restrict weight lifting in pediatric aged children and even in adults born with cardiac defects. Caution should be maintained to avoid lifting weight of more than 25 pounds in children and more than 50 pounds in adults. Physical therapist and pediatric cardiologist must assess every child individually and advice customized exercises and treatments according to the severity of illness and overall physical health. Treadmill test, bicycling and echocardiography are mainly used as assessment tools as the risk of sudden death increases if vigorous activity is attempted in children born with aortic stenosis, cyanotic heart diseases and coarctation of the aorta.

Hardcore or traditional gym exercises increase cardiac output that may overload the heart and may increase the risk of complications or sudden cardiac death. On the contrary, exercises performed under the guidance of physical therapists serve multiple benefits. Exercise or physical activities are needed in order to build stamina and maintain exercise endurance especially in school going children who engage in physical activities with peers. Physical therapy improves the pace of mental and physical development that allows children to develop healthy social relationships with peers, muscle and motor coordination and mental concordance. Physical therapy and periodic assessments are also needed in order to know the physical capacity of child and to track worsening of cardiac defect with age (in order to avoid accidents or unwanted incidents at schools) by restricting excessive physical activity. In some children, healthcare providers delay surgery until the child crosses some developmental milestones; however, it is very important that until then child stays in best possible physical shape to lessen the risk of surgical complications.

According to the scientific peer-reviewed journal- American Family Physician there are 5 stages of physical activity recommendations of Physical Activity in Children with CHD, ranging from no restriction to extreme limitation of physical activity (wheel chair bound).

Without any physical therapy, the progression into the severe disability is fairly high. It is the duty of parents to promote healthy physical activity but make sure to prevent contact sports or vigorous activities that may affect cardiac functioning.

Heart Disease – Food For Thought And A Healthier Heart

Having spent so many years working on Cardiac Care Units and lost close family members to sudden heart attacks, I know the devastating effects that a heart attack can lead to. So many lives are ripped apart each year through the failure to understand and diagnose the early warning signs.

A heart attack is the result of your head not understanding the everyday messages of your heart.

Your heart is not just the muscle that pumps blood around your body, keeping you alive, it is also the centre of your emotional intelligence. The energy of the heart manifests through your emotions (energy in motion).

Allowing this energy to run and taking the time to feel what is going on in your body, without judgment, is the way that your heart likes to interact with your head. However, because emotional intelligence is not taught at school and so much emphasis is placed on intellectual intelligence, millions of people die prematurely every year from heart attacks.

The facts speak for themselves.

According to cardiacmatters.co.uk facts and figures someone dies from a heart attack in the UK every 6 minutes. In the US this figure is nearer 1 person every minute. Of the 146,000 people who have a heart attack in the UK every year, 94,000 of them die. On top of this, 179 people in the UK lose a parent every day because of a fatal heart attack.

The symptoms usually start many years before a heart attack.

I have spent many years speaking to people who had just had a heart attack and there are many common themes. Although there are some people who do not experience some of the following symptoms, everyone who has a heart attack experiences over half of the following:

-Feeling stuck in a job or relationship for an extended period of time
-At least one, sometimes more, very poor family relationship(s)
-Low motivation for an extended period
-Not wanting to get out of bed
-High stress for a sustained duration
-A need to please others before themselves
-Feeling misunderstood or unappreciated
-Always compromising and feeling resentful about it
-Increasing aches and pains in their body
-Short, stabbing pains in their chest, sometimes only lasting a fraction of a second
-An emptiness or feeling that something is missing and no idea what it is

These are just some of the warning signs.

Knowing that all of these things happen when the IQ of your brain overrules the IQ of your heart on a consistent basis can help you identify the early warning signs of heart disease, while there is still time to reverse the symptoms. When your head starts labelling emotions as good or bad they can get repressed, heart energy is blocked and your heart cannot function properly. This is the foundation of heart dis-ease.

The good news is that heart dis-ease can be reversed if it is caught early enough.

In order to reverse the symptoms you must first become proficient at identifying them. Do you trust your feelings? Start by becoming aware of the early warning signs and asking yourself one simple question:

“Would I or the people I love benefit from me learning to identify the early warning signs of heart disease?”

If so, then learn about the early warning signs.

How To Deal With Dog Heart Disease

This can be caused by a change in the heart valves and their function, or a number of other potential causes. Dog heart murmur symptoms may be caused by an abnormal communication between the left side and the right side of the heart. There are a number of things that may cause this, as they may be congenital or present from birth, or acquired which means the heart was affected after birth because of age or disease. There are two types of heart murmurs in dogs, benign murmurs which do not concern the health of the dog, and much more serious heart murmurs which may indicate the development of congestive heart failure in dogs.

Dog heart murmur symptoms may involve the following: bluish tinge to the gums or tongue, poor exercise ability, coughing, labored breathing and even fainting. Some of these symptoms would suggest that your pup may have other health issues. However, the symptoms are similar between benign heart murmurs and those that are more severe in nature. If you are at all concerned about your canine’s health, you should consult your veterinarian. A couple of these symptoms may be overlooked which would include poor exercise ability and a bluish tinge to the gums. If you think that your dog has any dog heart murmur symptoms, canine heart disease or the development of congestive heart failure, immediately contact your vet for a positive diagnosis.

These are symptoms that indicate that something serious is going on with your dog’s health. The best way to identify the source and severity of the dog’s heart murmur is to conduct a thorough physical examination by a veterinarian, however sometimes additional testing is needed including a heart ultrasound, blood testing, an EKG and chest x-rays. The ultrasound offers a particularly enticing list of benefits because it allows your veterinarian to measure the extent of the murmur, defining whatever the cause of the underlying heart disease may be. It is vital that you be able to properly diagnose the cause of your dog’s heart condition because some conditions that cause heart murmurs are treatable, either through surgery or through medication.

If your canine has a congenital heart murmur, then surgery may be necessary. On the other hand, you may have to give your pooch certain types of medication as non-congenital heart murmurs are often an underlying symptom of congestive heart failure in dogs. You will not be sure exactly what to do until you have consulted with the right veterinarian and have been given advice as to your dog’s health. You should not leave symptoms like these unchecked due to the fact that not every heart murmur is benign and there could be serious changes occurring in your dog’s heart.

It is vital to share any concerns or questions that you may have with your veterinarian especially when it comes to your dog’s physical condition and lifestyle. If you are not comfortable with a diagnosis from your general veterinarian, you should consider seeking out a specialist for your dog. You could either go to a veterinary cardiologist or an internist. These vets have specialized training and probably have vast experience in these problems and other issues that your dog may have.

A Vegetarian Lifestyle Change – Heart Disease is a Killer!

So you’ve decided to make the change to a vegetarian diet. It’s understandable that you will feel some anxiety as we are creatures of habit and resistant to change.

To make you feel at ease it’s important to point out the benefits of the decision you have taken to eventually eliminate all meat and animal products from your diet. For example, you should know that a vegetarian person has a much less chance of contracting many forms of cancer such as colon, breast, ovarian and prostate cancer as well as heart disease.

A study of women in Japan who follow western style, meat-based diets, showed that they are eight times more likely to develop breast cancer than women who follow the more traditional vegetarian lifestyle.

Another study concluded that if men and women regularly consume quantities of red meat they increase their risk of colon cancer by approximately 300 percent. Our digestive system is more likely to function properly by obtaining the kind of dietary fiber provided by fruits,vegetables, legumes and nuts. Diseases of the bowel occur a lot less frequently in humans following a vegetarian diet due to the increased fiber content in a vegetarian meal.

If you are someone who has had a recent health scare it is understandable that you will feel the need to change your eating habits immediately. It is a fact that if you don’t make a dramatic change all at once, you’ll have a much greater chance of long term success.

Start by increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat and at the same time look to reducing the red meat you are eating on a weekly basis. Vegetables and grains should become the main part of your meal with meat as a side dish. Remember, you are making a change to last a lifetime, so make it natural and gradual with the goal of enjoying many years of healthy living.

Now it’s time for you to start your vegetarian journey by finding some recipes to begin the education process. Take your time to experiment with the different ingredients and ways you can prepare your meals. You will find them to be wholesome, delicious and enjoyable by all members of the family. Let’s hope they will realize as well, the importance and benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle.

Heart Disease – Recent Study Says It’s Not Cholesterol – Could Be Lazy Medical Care

A recent study conducted by the UCLA School of Medicine found 75% of patients hospitalized for a heart attack had LDL cholesterol within the so called safe range- below 130mg/dl. (21% of the patients were taking a statin cholesterol-lowering drug.) The study also found that 50 percent of the patients had LDL less than 100mg/dL, considered to be optimum levels. The data base used records from 541 hospitals across the country and the American Heart Journal published the study in 2009.

What is the take away here? There is the obvious take away but then there is the “how do we use this to sell more drugs?” take away. If you are a pharmaceutical company selling cholesterol lowering drugs you are thinking one way and if you are honest and a doctor or patient you should take another view. It is a serious threat to your health because the die-hards businessmen and drug companies think we are not lowering cholesterol enough!! That is completely lame. Drug companies and insurance companies want the cheapest way to treat you! But are years and years of taking drugs that cost a great deal over time coupled with the prospect of a hospitalization due to heart problems really the least expensive?

This study is important in its implications for the individual patient. The other important data to keep in mind is the steep rise in elderly people (and the not so elderly) who have developed Alzheimer’s disease. Have they taken cholesterol lowering drugs? Couple these data together and you have some answers as to what might be happening with our health profiles in this country.

In clinical practice the doctors, in a rush to see as many people as possible, take the easy way out. The guidelines and “standards of care” determine the prescription of a cholesterol lowering drug in the case of someone with “high” cholesterol or heart disease. You do not have to have much face time when you do a blood test for cholesterol and prescribe a drug and send the person on his way with advice to stop eating foods that drive cholesterol up. It is fast, cheap and easy.

Here is what should be happening; a physician with a thorough education knows the liver produces cholesterol and the body needs it for health. He knows that cholesterol is a major constituent of every cell membrane in the entire body. He knows cholesterol is protective of the nervous system and the basic building block of hormones and vitamin D. A very important substance for health! He also knows the likely causes of heart problems and looks for them. He knows heavy metals are implicated in the development of high blood pressure and found in the muscle wall of the heart at autopsy in people with some forms of heart disease. He will offer diagnostic tests that look at toxic metals and mineral nutrient status of his patients. He knows ionic calcium (not the kind in bones) gets stuck in the muscle wall of the artery and in plaque causing “hardening of the arteries”. If he is really good he will recommend or provide IV chelation therapy to lower the levels of lead, ionic calcium, antimony, cadmium and other metals throughout the vascular system improving over all circulation.