The Heart Essay Research Paper CONTENTS3 — страница 6

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the blood more efficiently. In larger dose they also help lower the blood pressure. The drawback for calcium antagonists is that they tend to cause dizziness and fluid retention, resulting in swollen ankles. Other Medications There are new drugs being developed constantly. Pexid, for example, is useful if other drugs fail in severe angina attacks. However, it produces more side effects than others, such as pins and needles and numbness in limbs, muscle weakness, and liver damage. It may also precipitate diabetes, and damages to the retina. SURGERY When medications or any other means of treatment are unable to control the pain of angina attacks, surgery is considered. There are two types of surgical operation available: Coronary Bypass and Angioplasty. The bypass surgery is the

more common, while angioplasty is relatively new and is also a minor operation. Surgery is only a “last resort” to provide relief and should not be viewed as a permanent cure for the underlying disease, which can only be controlled by changing one’s lifestyle. Coronary Bypass Surgery The bypass surgery involves extracting a vein from another part of the body, usually the leg, and uses it to construct a detour around the diseased coronary artery. This procedure restores the blood flow to the heart muscle. Although this may sound risky, the death rate is actually below 3 per cent. This risk is higher, however, if the disease is widespread and if the heart muscle is already weakened. If the grafted artery becomes blocked, a heart attack may occur after the operation. The

number of bypasses depends on the number of coronary arteries affected. Coronary artery disease may affect one, two, or all three arteries. If more than one artery is affected, then several grafts will have to be carried out during the operation. About 20 per cent of the patients considered for surgery have only one diseased vessel. In 50 per cent of the patients, there are two affected arteries, and in 30 per cent the disease strikes all three arteries. These patients are known to be suffering from triple vessel disease and require a triple-bypass. Triple vessel disease and disease of the left main coronary artery before it divides into two branches are the most serious conditions. The operation itself incorporates making an incision down the length of the breastbone in order to

expose the heart. The patient is connected to a heart-lung machine, which takes over the function of the heart and lungs during the operation and also keeps the patient alive. At the same time, a small incision is made on the leg to remove a section of the vein. Once the section of vein has been removed, it is attached to the heart. One end of the vein is sewn to the aorta, while the other end is sewn into the affected coronary artery just beyond the diseased segment. The grafted vein now becomes the new artery through which the blood can flow freely beyond the obstruction. The original artery is thus bypassed. The whole operation requires about four to five hours, and may be longer if there is more than one bypass involved. After the operation, the patient is sent to the

Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for recovery. The angina pain is usually relieved or controlled, partially or completely, by the operation. However, the operation does not cure the underlying disease, so the effects may begin to diminish after a while, which may be anywhere from a few months to several years. The only way patients can avoid this from happening is to change their lifestyles. Angioplasty This operation is a relatively new procedure, and it is known in full as transluminal balloon coronary angioplasty. It entails “squashing” the atherosclerotic plaque with balloons. A very thin balloon catheter is inserted into the artery in the arm or the leg of a patient under general anaesthetic. The balloon catheter is guided under x-ray just beyond the narrowed coronary artery.

Once there, the balloon is inflated with fluid and the fatty deposits are squashed against the artery walls. The balloon is then deflated and drawn out of the body. This technique is a much simpler and more economical alternative to the bypass surgery. The procedure itself requires less time and the patient only remains in the hospital for a few days afterward. Exactly how long the operation takes depends on where and in how many places the artery is narrowed. It is most suitable when the disease is limited to the left anterior descending artery, but sometimes the plaques are simply too hard, making them impossible to be squashed, in which case a bypass might be necessary. SELF-HELP The only way patients can prevent the condition of their heart from deteriorating any further is