Heart Disease

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    Even with improved treatments, many people with a congenital heart defect (CHD) are not cured, even if their heart defect has been repaired. People with a CHD can develop other health problems over time, depending on their specific heart defect, the number of heart defects they have and the severity of their heart defect. Some of these health problems that might develop include irregular heart beat (arrhythmias), increased risk of infection in the heart muscle (infective endocarditis) or weakness in the heart. People with a CHD need routine checkups with a cardiologist (heart doctor) to stay as healthy as possible.

    The presence of the CDC logo and CDC content on this page should not be construed to imply endorsement by the US Government of any commercial products or services, or to replace the advice of a medical professional. The mark “CDC” is licensed under authority of the PHS.
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    ADonnica Moore, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology, answered
    Moore_WhatDoCRPTestLevelsIndicate_022014.mov
    There are specific guidelines for results of the C-reactive protein (CRP) test, which reflects inflammation related to heart disease risk. Watch women's health specialist Donnica Moore, MD, discuss what the test levels indicate with regard to risk.
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    AJonathan Fialkow, MD, Cardiology, answered on behalf of Baptist Health South Florida
    Getting too much added sugar in your diet can jeopardize your health, and can even increase your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. A study found that those who absorbed 17% to 21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, compared with those who consumed 8% of their calories from added sugar. The risk was more than double for those who consumed 21% or more of their calories from added sugar.
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    ARobin Miller, MD, Integrative Medicine, answered
    Is dark chocolate good for the heart?
    Dark chocolate is good for the heart whether it’s packed with antioxidants or not. Watch Robin Miller, MD, explain how it benefits the heart and what else chocolate can do for you.
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    Incorporating a blood conservation strategy (BCS) during aortic valve replacement (AVR) can reduce the likelihood of transfusion-related complications.

    Researchers examined the impact of a BCS on surgical outcomes following AVR. Implementation of blood conservation strategies can be safely completed for people who have had AVR while helping to limit unnecessary transfusion, avoiding transfusion-associated complications and decreasing costs.

    The researchers tried to determine if BCS had an impact on morbidity, mortality or blood product utilization. They found no difference in mortality or major complications between people undergoing AVR before and after BCS implementation; however, major complications (renal failure, respiratory failure, sepsis or death) occurred more frequently in people who received two or more units of red blood cells. Gastrointestinal complications, renal failure requiring dialysis and respiratory failure were also more common among people receiving two or more units of red blood cells.

    While some people do require transfusion for a safe operation, transfusions can be limited without causing harm to the person.
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    Researchers collected data from 2,254 people aged 80 years and older who underwent transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) between January 2010 and October 2011. People were divided into three categories based on age: 80-84 years (867 people), 85-89 years (1,064 people) and ≥90 years (349 people). High procedural success was achieved in every age group (97.8%, 96.3%, and 97.1%, respectively). Both length of hospital stay and time in the intensive care unit were similar in all groups.

    The cumulative mortality rates for the entire study population were 9.9% at 30-days and 23.8% at one-year post-surgery. Mortality rates at one-year were higher among people in the 85-89 and ≥90 year age groups, compared with the mortality rate in people in the 80-84 year age group (26.1%, 27.7%, and 19.8%, respectively). TAVI may therefore be a good therapeutic option even in elderly people.
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    Researchers have found that transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) can provide an effective alternative to surgical aortic valve replacement (AVR) for the treatment of aortic stenosis in elderly people, specifically those 80 years and older.

    Elderly people generally require more time to recover after invasive treatments, such as AVR. TAVI may have advantages because earlier mobility plays a significant role in maintaining neuromuscular strength and physical function in elderly people. Smaller incisions allow faster resumption of physical activity and therefore full recovery.

    With an aging population, the number of people who require cardiac surgery has increased among both octogenarians (age 80-89 years) and nonagenarians (age ≥90 years). However, nearly one-third of people with severe symptomatic valve disease are not recommended for surgery due to multiple comorbidities or advanced age.
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    Research has shown that the introduction of minimally invasive transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) for the treatment of aortic stenosis not only increases the number of people eligible for aortic valve replacement (AVR), but also leads to a decrease in mortality. Researchers found that overall mortality associated with AVR decreased, even in high-risk cases (8.9% in 2011 vs. 7.0% in 2012). These results suggest that people with aortic stenosis fare better when multiple treatment options are available.

    Researchers evaluated the overall volume and outcomes from aortic valve interventions at participating U.S. hospitals from 2008 to 2012. TAVR became commercially available in the United States in 2012.
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    AScripps Health answered
    While many adolescent and adult patients with repaired heart defects caused by congenital heart disease can and do live rather normal lives, a significant number of these repairs may not last forever. Beginning about 10 years after these patients have their defects fixed, their risk for serious heart-related problems starts to increase.

    Many adults with congenital heart disease are unaware that they may be at risk. Because they may mistakenly believe that their corrective surgeries or treatments were permanent, they have not sought follow-up care with a cardiologist as adults and effectively “fall off the map.” Consequently, in many cases adult congenital heart disease is not discovered until a heart murmur or abnormal heart rhythm is detected during a routine physical examination. Some people may develop warning signs such as shortness of breath or fatigue, but since these symptoms are fairly common, they may delay care until the symptoms worsen.

    When people with adult congenital heart disease are finally seen by doctors, their conditions have often progressed to the point where they are very complicated. Among the most serious problems are irregular heartbeats, enlarged hearts and heart failure. In the most severe cases, sudden death may occur.

    Given their unique health challenges, congenital heart disease patients should be monitored throughout their lifetime by a physician with the necessary specialized expertise, to monitor the disease and prevent complications. 
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    AScripps Health answered
    While many adolescent and adult patients with repaired heart defects caused by congenital heart disease can and do live rather normal lives, a significant number of these repairs may not last forever. Beginning about 10 years after these patients have their defects fixed, their risk for serious heart-related problems starts to increase.