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All Posts Tagged: cardiology hospital in chennai

Hypertension--thumb-size

What is Hypertension?

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High blood pressure is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.

Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.

You can have high blood pressure (hypertension) for years without any symptoms. Even without symptoms, damage to blood vessels and your heart continues and can be detected. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke.

High blood pressure generally develops over many years, and it affects nearly everyone eventually. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily detected. And once you know you have high blood pressure, you can work with your doctor to control it.

What are the symptoms of hypertension?

Hypertension is generally a silent condition. Many people won’t experience any symptoms. It may take years or even decades for the condition to reach levels severe enough that symptoms become obvious. Even then, these symptoms may be attributed to other issues.

Symptoms of severe hypertension can include:

  • headaches
  • shortness of breath
  • nosebleeds
  • flushing
  • dizziness
  • chest pain
  • visual changes
  • blood in the urine

These symptoms require immediate medical attention. They don’t occur in everyone with hypertension, but waiting for a symptom of this condition to appear could be fatal.

The best way to know if you have hypertension is to get regular blood pressure readings. Most doctors’ offices take a blood pressure reading at every appointment.

Causes of high blood pressure

There are two types of high blood pressure.

Primary (essential) hypertension

For most adults, there’s no identifiable cause of high blood pressure. This type of high blood pressure, called primary (essential) hypertension, tends to develop gradually over many years.

Secondary hypertension

Some people have high blood pressure caused by an underlying condition. This type of high blood pressure, called secondary hypertension, tends to appear suddenly and cause higher blood pressure than does primary hypertension. Various conditions and medications can lead to secondary hypertension, including:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Kidney problems
  • Adrenal gland tumors
  • Thyroid problems
  • Certain defects you’re born with (congenital) in blood vessels
  • Certain medications, such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers and some prescription drugs
  • Illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines

When to see a doctor

You’ll likely have your blood pressure taken as part of a routine doctor’s appointment.

Ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading at least every two years starting at age 18. If you’re age 40 or older, or you’re 18 to 39 with a high risk of high blood pressure, ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading every year.

Blood pressure generally should be checked in both arms to determine if there’s a difference. It’s important to use an appropriate-sized arm cuff.

Your doctor will likely recommend more frequent readings if you’ve already been diagnosed with high blood pressure or have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Children age 3 and older will usually have blood pressure measured as a part of their yearly checkups.

If you don’t regularly see your doctor, you may be able to get a free blood pressure screening at a health resource fair or other locations in your community. You can also find machines in some stores that will measure your blood pressure for free.

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What is Heart Infection?

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Heart infections occur when an irritant such as bacteria, a virus, a parasite, or a chemical reaches your heart muscle. An infection can cause inflammation or damage to your heart’s inner lining, valves, outer membrane, or the heart muscle itself.

Types of Heart Infection

Your heart has three main layers, any of which can be the site of a heart infection. The types of heart infection include:

Endocarditis is an infection or inflammation of the endocardium. This is the inner most layer of the heart. The endocardium lines the inside of the four heart chambers and the four heart valves. Endocarditis is the most common type of heart infection. It most often occurs in people with pre-existing valve disease and other heart problems. Treatment usually requires hospitalization.

Myocarditis is an infection or inflammation of the myocardium. This is the middle muscular layer of the heart. Viral infections are one of several causes of myocarditis. This type of heart infection is rare.

Pericarditis is an infection or inflammation of the pericardium. This is the outer layer or membrane covering the heart. A viral infection is the most common cause. It occurs most often in men age 20 to 50 years from a viral infection. Typically, people recover with rest and treatment of symptoms.

General symptoms of a heart infection include chest pain, fever, and shortness of breath. These symptoms can also be present with a life-threatening condition, such as heart attack. Seek immediate medical care if you, or someone you are with, have these symptoms.

Causes of Heart Infection

Pericarditis can be caused by a viral infection or after a heart attack or heart surgery. It can also develop as the result of inflammatory autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis; trauma to the heart or chest; health disorders like kidney failure or AIDS; and certain medications, although this is unusual.

Endocarditis usually occurs when germs travel through your bloodstream, travel to your heart, and attach to damaged heart tissue. Bacteria can spread as the result of unhealthy teeth and gums, a skin sore, certain dental procedures, a sexually transmitted infection, or a catheter or needle.

Myocarditis is generally caused by a viral infection or autoimmune disease. Because the condition is so unusual, research is still being done on its causes.

What are the symptoms of a heart infection?

Heart infection symptoms with endocarditis can be obvious and develop quickly. This is acute endocarditis, which can rapidly become serious and life threatening. However, they can also be vague and develop gradually, even over months. This is subacute or chronic endocarditis.

Common symptoms of a heart infection

The most common symptoms of endocarditis are:

  • Chest pain, especially with breathing
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever, chills, and sweats
  • General feeling of being unwell
  • Muscle aches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in the abdomen or lower extremities

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, a heart infection can cause life-threatening complications. Seek immediate medical care if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:

  • Chest pain
  • Confusion, disorientation or difficulty understanding speech
  • Drooping on one side of the face
  • Severe headache
  • Slurred or garbled speech, or inability to speak
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Sudden weakness, numbnessor paralysis on one side of the body or face

Even if you do not have these potentially life-threatening symptoms, it is wise to seek medical care for any symptoms of heart infection.

Treatment of a heart infection

Heart infections are generally treated with one or more of the following methods:

  • Antibiotics.
  • Medications used to treat heart failure.
  • Corticosteroids.
  • Drugs that reduce inflammation in the body.
  • Occasionally, surgery.
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