Saturday 9th January 2021 • Promotional Content

Your heart – when to seek medical attention

Knowing the basic signs of potential heart problems can prove vital in circumstances when you may or may not know whether you need to see a doctor.


alpitations, for example, are heart beats that suddenly become very noticeable. You

may feel as if your heart is fluttering or pounding for a few seconds or minutes. While this can seem alarming, often palpitations are harmless. Tey can be triggered by excitement or stress; however, there can also be serious causes. One of the most common heart conditions causing palpitations is atrial fibrillation (AF), which leads to an irregular and inefficient beating of the heart. AF can cause clots to form inside the heart arising from the inef- ficient heart beats, and at times result in a stroke. Specific blood-thinning medications, called anticoagulants, can effectively reduce the formation of clots and, in turn, the risk of stroke. One of the most well-known signs of

a potential heart problem is chest pain. While there are many benign causes of chest pain, when it occurs owing to a heart condition, then one must seek medical attention. Commonly, it may occur as a consequence of reduced blood flow to muscles of the heart, a condition called angina. Tis could be a warning that you are at an increased risk of a heart attack. Angina usually triggers a tight, dull or heavy chest pain and can spread to your left arm or neck. It’s typically worsened by phys- ical activity or stress. Te pain should cease within a few minutes of resting, after which you should call your GP for an urgent appointment if this is your first experience of angina. If the pain doesn’t cease within a few minutes, be sure to seek immediate attention and call 999 for an ambulance. Glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) is a common treat- ment for angina, usually taken as a mouth spray (under the tongue), which relaxes the muscle walls of the heart vessels, to improve the flow of blood, and reduces the workload of the heart. Fatigue and breathlessness are very common sensations in daily life.

It’s important to keep your blood pressure under control — for example, by exercising and losing weight — and limiting the fats and sugars in your diet

Often, these are related to normality, for instance when performing activ- ities or undertaking exercise, espe- cially if you’re not very fit. However, if recent breathlessness is coupled with a new onset of swollen ankles then this should raise suspicion of heart problems, such as heart failure (HF). In this case, you may notice increasing breathlessness over a rela- tively short period of time, as opposed to a gradual increase over the years due to a simple decline in physical conditioning.

In HF, breathless-

ness arises when the heart muscle is weakened, or for some other reason it becomes too inefficient, and unable to pump a sufficient amount of blood around the body. Tere are a few effec- tive ways of avoiding the development of HF-related breathlessness. High blood pressure can increase strain on the heart and lead to the develop- ment of HF, so it’s very important to keep your blood pressure under good control,

for example, by exercising,

reducing your weight and limiting the amount of fats and sugars in your diet. Along with a healthy diet, ceasing smoking and reducing alcohol can be of immense benefit to optimising the efficiency of the cardiovascular system. In addition to specific treat- ments for high blood pressure, there are a wide variety of medications used

Innovative healthcare & specialist clinics New Year, New You 39

to treat any weakening of the heart- muscle, including ACE inhibitors, which relax and open up the blood vessels, and beta-blockers, which reduce the heart rate and strain on the heart. In certain advanced cases of HF, a device called a biventricular pacemaker, which sends regular signals to the right and left sides of your heart, may increase the strength of

the heart-muscle and improve

the symptoms of breathlessness and fatigue. Remember, always be sure to clarify

any of the above symptoms with your GP or cardiologist, or in an emergency call 999.

Private practice: BUPA Cromwell, London Harley Street Clinic, London St George’s Hospital, London Spire St Anthony’s Hospital, Cheam BMI Te Runnymede Hospital, Chertsey Nuffield Health Woking Hospital, Woking

Dr Riyaz A Kaba, consultant in cardiology and honorary senior lecturer, All Chambers Ltd

For private appointments: T: 07516 004491 E:

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