Unveiling Matters of the Heart
When it comes to your heart, it's good to understand all of the possible conditions that you could face. This article will outline some of the most common types of heart conditions, signs and symptoms to watch out for, and the current best treatments like BeneFix, an injectable medicine that is used to help control and prevent bleeding in people with hemophilia B. Now. let's dive in.
What are the Warning Signs of a Heart Attack?
If you experience these warning signs or symptoms, do not ignore them but seek help as soon as possible:
- Crushing chest pain–this symptom is more common in men. Women often describe their chest pain as a pressure or tightness in the chest. This pain will typically be located in the center or left side of the chest and lasts longer than a few minutes. It may also go away and come back.
- Pain in one or both arms or shoulders.
- Nausea or vomiting– this symptom is more common in women.
- Shortness of breath.
- Pain in the jaw, back or neck.
- Weakness, faintness or lightheadedness.
- Indigestion or heartburn.
- Excessive fatigue–this symptom is more common in women.
Overall, women are more likely than men to experience symptoms not related to chest pain. They are just as likely as men to experience heart attacks but may not always seek treatment because they don’t have the characteristic symptoms of chest pain.
Heart attacks, also called myocardial infarctions, occur when part of the heart stops receiving enough blood to function properly. Getting treatment as quickly as possible can help improve prognosis, as the longer the heart is without blood, the more damaged the muscle becomes. In the United States, someone experiences a heart attack every 44 seconds, which makes it vitally important that you recognize the warning signs and symptoms to get help as quickly as possible.
The American Heart Association found that 19% of men and 26% of women who have a heart attack will die within a year. Unfortunately, heart disease, in general, is still the leading cause of death for Americans. Below are the warning signs to watch for.
What Are Different Types of Heart Conditions?
You’re likely familiar with common heart conditions such as coronary artery disease and heart valve disease, but there are several less common conditions you should know about.
1. Transthyretin Amyloid Cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM)
ATTR-CM is an often underdiagnosed and potentially fatal heart condition in which a specific protein becomes misshapen and begins to build up in the heart, organs and nerves. This buildup causes the heart muscle to stiffen, which inhibits its ability to fill the left ventricle with blood, a condition called cardiomyopathy. Left untreated, it can lead to heart failure. People can have either hereditary (hATTR-CM) or wild-type (no genetic predisposition). Common symptoms to watch for include:
- Shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, especially when lying down.
- Bloated abdomen.
- Confusion or difficulty thinking.
- Swollen feet, legs or ankles.
- Increased heart rate or palpitations.
- Numbness and/or tingling in the hands and feet–hATTR-CM.
Depending on the severity of the condition upon diagnosis you may be prescribed a medication such as Vyndamax, while AMVUTTRA may be prescribed for neuropathy associated with hATTR-CM.
2. Atrial Fibrillation (AFIB)
AFIB is a type of abnormal heartbeat, or arrhythmia, where the heart can reach up to 400 beats per minute. This condition is caused by faulty electrical signals, which cause the atria to contract faster than normal in an irregular pattern. When the atria become out of sync with the ventricles, blood can begin to pool in the chambers of the heart, which can cause blood clots and/or strokes. Signs to watch for include:
- Heart pain (angina).
- Fluttering or racing of the heart (palpitations).
- Shortness of breath.
The treatment of this condition is typically threefold. If the risk of developing blood clots is deemed high, then your doctor may prescribe anticoagulant medications. They will likely also prescribe medications to lower your resting heart rate. If you are in AFIB all of the time, you may need an intervention that could include electrical shock or catheter ablation.
3. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
DVT happens when a blood clot forms in a large vein, typically found in the thigh, pelvis or lower leg. Common signs of DVT include:
- Unexplained pain or tenderness in your limb.
- New swelling of the limb without another physical cause.
- Red skin that may be warm or tender to the touch.
Unfortunately, these symptoms have a lot of crossover with other conditions, such as strained muscle. However, if you have no cause for this sort of pain, contact your doctor. If DVT is diagnosed, you will likely be treated with anticoagulant medications and be told to wear compression socks to help with the pain.
4. Pulmonary Embolism (PE)
PE and DVT are often interconnected, as DVT can cause a PE to form. If you have a DVT, sometimes a piece or all of the clot breaks free and begins to travel to the lungs via the bloodstream. Blood clots that make it to the lungs can be life-threatening, so if you have DVT, take special care to watch for these symptoms:
- Chest pain or discomfort may worsen when coughing or taking a deep breath.
- Shortness of breath that is sudden or recent.
- Coughing up blood.
To treat PE, you will again be prescribed anticoagulants and maybe even thrombolytics to break down or dissolve the clot.
BeneFix for Hemophilia B
BeneFix is an injectable medication known as Coagulation Factor IX (Recombinant), designed to assist in controlling and preventing bleeding episodes in individuals with hemophilia B—a hereditary bleeding disorder. Furthermore, healthcare providers may administer BeneFix as a precautionary measure before surgical procedures, ensuring effective hemostasis and minimizing the risk of excessive bleeding.
How Are Heart Conditions Linked to Strokes?
Strokes can be linked to and/or caused by heart conditions in a couple of different ways. Coronary artery disease may cause a stroke due to a buildup of plaque in the arteries. This plaque may break away from the arterial walls and travel through the bloodstream, blocking blood flow specifically to the brain. Heart conditions that can increase the risk of stroke include atrial fibrillation (and other conditions that cause irregular heartbeat), enlarged chambers of the heart and heart valve defects.
These heart conditions can increase the risk of developing blood clots, which can break free and again block blood flow to the brain, thus causing a stroke. Treating heart conditions in their early stages with medications and lifestyle changes may help decrease your risk of developing severe complications such as stroke or a heart attack.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, contributing to one in five overall deaths in 2020, or roughly one death every 34 seconds, and there are a variety of heart conditions that can lead to heart disease. We’ll get into the details of more specific heart conditions below, but Vyndamax is a great daily treatment option for people who have either wild-type or hereditary transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM), a rare and serious condition.
This capsule is taken once daily and has been shown to help decrease the risk of death and heart-related hospital visits in those with ATTR-CM. If you are suffering from polyneuropathy caused by hereditary transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis (hATTR amyloidosis), then your doctor might prescribe AMVUTTRA. Clinical trials have shown this medication to significantly improve nerve function and quality of life. So, if you have been diagnosed with either condition, it’s worth talking to your doctor about these potential treatments to see if they are right for you.