Heart blockage or blockage in the heart is said to have occurred when the body is unable to supply enough oxygen (through blood) to the heart. If the blood flow is blocked, the heart is deprived of oxygen which causes the heart cells to die. This is a symptom of coronary artery disease. It causes chest pains, heart attacks and in severe cases can even lead to death.

Causes

Cholesterol producers causing coronary artery disease

Cholesterol producers causing coronary artery disease
[Source: National Library of Medicine]

Heart blockages are a result of accumulation of fatty material along the walls of coronary arteries. This fatty material or plaque, which is made up of cholesterol and other cells, thickens, hardens (forms calcium deposits), and eventually blocks the arteries.

The slow buildup of plaque may almost block one of your coronary arteries leading to a heart attack in situations when the heart needs more blood or oxygen (e.g. when you are exercising).

Sometimes, the plaque itself develops cracks (fissures) or tears to which blood platelets stick and form a blood clot. A heart attack can occur if this blood clot completely blocks the passage of oxygen-rich blood to the heart.

Certain factors like old age (above 65), male gender, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, fat-rich diet, overweight (by 30%), etc. increase your risk for coronary artery disease.

Symptoms

  • Chest pain usually on the left side
  • Pain radiating to the arms, shoulders, neck, teeth, jaw, belly area, or back
  • Anxiety
  • Palpitations (irregular heart beat or the heart beating too fast)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Light-headedness or dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue and weakness (especially if you are elderly)

Tests

Your doctor may perform one or more of the following tests:

  • Coronary angiography to study how blood flows through your heart
  • Computed Tomography scan (CT scan) to create cross-sectional pictures of the chest
  • Echocardiography to create a moving picture of the heart using sound waves
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) to record the electrical activity of the heart
  • Electrophysiology Study (EPS) to determine the details of irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to take pictures of your body using magnetic and radio waves
  • Nuclear ventriculography to show the heart chambers using radioactive materials called tracers

Treatment

Treatment option will depend upon the amount of blockage present. A minor blockage can be treated with the use of stents while a patient suffering from a severe heart blockage may need a heart surgery like a cardiac bypass. Following are some of the treatment options to treat blockages in the coronary artery:

  • Angioplasty: Also called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), it is a procedure to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels.
  • Stent placement: A small, metal mesh tube that opens up (expands) inside a coronary artery.
  • Thrombolytic therapy: Usage of drugs to break up the clot.
  • Other medications: To treat and prevent heart attacks.
  • Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG): A cardiac procedure to reroute or bypass blood around clogged arteries to improve blood flow and oxygen to the heart.

Cost of treatment

Depending upon the treatment required the cost can range anywhere from upwards of $20,000 in the US for a stent to approximately $10,000 in India for a bypass surgery. For a free quote for a specific surgery in the US or overseas, contact Healthbase, a US medical tourism facilitator.

If you do not carry sufficient health insurance, the medical costs of treating heart blockages can be financially straining. To learn about cheaper and high quality heart treatment overseas, check out medical tourism @ Healthbase.

Related links

Healthbase, the leading US-based medical tourism provider, has partnered with a JCI accredited German hospital in order to bring wider options and greater convenience to Americans, Canadians, Europeans and others looking for affordable, timely and high quality medical and dental treatments.

Healthbase Online Inc., the leading and award-winning medical tourism facilitator based in Boston, MA, has announced partnership with a Joint Commission International accredited hospital in Germany. With the addition of this JCI accredited hospital, Healthbase now has a network of over 100 health care and dental care providers spread across 18 countries. For the medical tourist it means more choices, wider variety and greater convenience.

According to Saroja Mohanasundaram, CEO of Healthbase, “With growing demands from our consumer base for a quality tertiary medical care center in Europe, we are excited to have our newest Germany-based healthcare provider onboard. Our new member provider is JCI-accredited thereby giving the peace of mind to our patients regarding the high standards of quality that will be delivered by it. Our German provider offers a full complement of services and is an excellent choice for patients looking for orthopedic, spinal and bariatric treatments at a much discounted rate compared to USA and much faster access to service compared to that offered by public health care systems in Canada or the UK.”

For patients from Europe, especially from the European Union (EU), this would be as good as going to a local hospital with the advantage of high or higher standard of service and without the inconvenience of the infamous waitlists as seen in government-sponsored healthcare systems such as the National Health Service or NHS in the United Kingdom.

The hospital offers procedures like joint replacement procedures (such as hip replacement surgery and knee replacement surgery), spinal procedures (such as spine fusion surgery and artificial disc replacement surgery), and weight-loss procedures (such as lap band surgery, gastric bypass or RNY procedure and gastric sleeve surgery), among hundreds of other procedures.

The favorable geographical location of Germany means that for patients coming from North America the flight times are shorter compared to other famous medical tourism destinations such as those in Asia. For those traveling from other European countries it is at a stone’s throw.

Mohanasundaram adds, “We have carefully chosen our German provider after a rigorous selection process keeping in mind all aspects of affordable, safe and top quality medical tourism care. Patients can expect as much as 50 to 70% less cost compared to the cost of care in other developed countries such as the United States. Also, the staffs at our German provider speak English, thus, making communication easy.”

Healthbase has the biggest and geographically most expanded network of healthcare and dental care providers in the industry. Patients have a wide selection of destinations to choose from for their low cost high quality medical care and dental care needs. These include Germany, India, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, New Zealand, Jordan, Turkey, Hungary, Belgium, Spain, Costa Rica, Panama, Brazil, Mexico, and USA.

Healthbase serves the American, Canadian, European, African, Asian, Middle-Eastern and Asia Pacific markets, and offers more than 200 procedures.

About Healthbase Online Inc.:
Healthbase, an award-winning US-based medical tourism and dental tourism facilitator, is a one-stop source for global medical and dental choices, connecting patients to leading internationally accredited healthcare providers in 18 countries including India, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Turkey, Germany, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and USA. Healthbase caters to individual consumers, self-funded businesses, insurers, benefits plan consultants, third party administrators and those using Consumer Directed Healthcare Plans (CDHPs) or voluntary benefit plans. Healthbase coordinates over 200 procedures in various categories like orthopedic, spinal, cardiac, bariatric, urology, oncology, dental, cosmetic and general surgery. Some of the common procedures offered are Birmingham hip resurfacing, total hip replacement, knee replacement, ACL repair, rotator cuff surgery, spinal fusion, spinal disk replacement, heart bypass surgery, lap band, gastric bypass, cancer treatment, liposuction, dental implants, crowns, bridges, etc. for a fraction of the cost in the US with equal or superior outcomes. To ensure that patients receive the best care possible, Healthbase works mainly with hospitals that have international accreditations like JCI. To learn more, call 1-888-691-4584, email info.hb @ healthbase.com or visit http://www.healthbase.com.

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By Brian Wallstin
Seven Days
Vermont’s Independent Voice

By January, Jane Schaeffer could barely manage a walk around the block, which was no surprise: She needed a new hip.

Schaeffer, who is 64 and a yoga teacher in Bennington, didn’t like that prognosis. So, she consulted the oracle of Hippocrates — the Internet — and concluded that what she wanted was a Birmingham Hip-Resurfacing , or BHR, a less-invasive procedure developed in England and approved in the U.S. in 2006.

Unfortunately, Schaeffer’s insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, saw her case differently and insisted that, at her age, she should have her hip replaced . That left Schaeffer, if she wanted to get better, with a choice: Get a new hip on BCBSVT, or pull together $8000 and have the joint “resurfaced” in India.

For Schaeffer, it was no choice at all. On April 18, she underwent a BHR at Apollo Hospital in New Delhi. Two weeks later, she was home, preparing to return to work. “With full hip replacement , I would never have full range of motion in my hip,” she said. “I would never be able to teach properly again.”

Americans have been going abroad for health care for years. Retirement communities in Arizona routinely bus fixed-income residents over the Mexican border, where the prescription drugs and dental care are cheaper. For those with radically different needs, and a certain disposable income, Brazil and Argentina are famous for skilled, cut-rate plastic surgery; a $10,000 tummy tuck in L.A. or Houston might cost a third as much at Plenitas, a boutique clinic in Buenos Aires.

In the last few years, hospitals in exotic locales such as India , Singapore and Thailand have aggressively marketed major surgical procedures — heart bypasses and coronary valve replacements , for instance — at drastically lower prices than are available in the United States. And more and more Americans are taking advantage of it. A 2007 study by the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas estimated that about 500,000 U.S. residents traveled abroad for care in 2005. According to the management consultant McKinsey & Company, the worldwide “medical tourism ” industry was worth $60 billion in 2006, and is expected to reach $100 billion by 2012.

Concerns about the quality of care abroad have all but disappeared, thanks to improved standards of care that are monitored by accreditation bodies, such as Joint Commission International and the International Society for Quality in Health Care. Studies have shown that mortality rates at hospitals that specialize in medical tourism are as low as, or lower than, those at U.S. hospitals.

Jane Schaeffer said Apollo Hospital in New Delhi “was really a whole different universe.

“The whole situation there is set up for people who have hip resurfacing,” she said. “I had [physical therapy] twice a day, the surgeon came in twice a day to visit . . . I can’t recommend it highly enough.”

Schaeffer made her own travel arrangements to New Delhi but relied on an online broker, Healthbase , to find a doctor and hospital for the operation. Saroja Mohanasundaram, Healthbase’s chief executive officer, said her company has formed “partnerships” with major hospitals in 11 countries . Her staff handles everything from digitizing and transferring patient medical records, to arranging airport transfers and hotel accommodations.

“The medical part is the main thing,” Mohanasundaram said. “Once they like the facility and the doctor, then we try to help them with the logistics.”

Schaeffer said she arranged any needed follow-up care with an orthopedic surgeon in Bennington prior to her trip — a practice the AMA lists among its guidelines for those considering traveling abroad for health care. But, since her return from New Delhi on April 30, she has been walking without crutches and has full range of motion in her hip.

Her next step is to ask Blue Cross Blue Shield, which declined to authorize the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing, to reimburse her for the surgery.

“I’m going to appeal it, based on: I saved a lot of money, I can still continue with my work, and they were wrong,” she said. “We’ll see what happens.”

More at: http://www.7dvt.com/2008vermont-yoga-teacher-tries-out-medical-tourism

To arrange your medical travel trip overseas for any medical , dental or cosmetic procedure , contact Healthbase. Healthbase is an award-winning medical tourism facilitator connecting patients to leading healthcare facilities worldwide . Cost of surgical care at Healthbase’s partner hospitals is a fraction of the cost of similar care in the US for equal or superior outcomes.

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Healthbase is the trusted source for global medical choices, connecting patients to leading hospitals around the world, through secure and information-rich web portal. To learn more, visit: http://www.healthbase.com Login to get FREE quote. Access is free.Healthbase Logo

ANATOMY AND FUNCTION OF THE HEART

The heart is a muscular organ a little larger than your fist weighing between 7 and 15 ounces (200 to 425 grams). It is responsible for pumping blood through the blood vessels by repeated, rhythmic contractions. The average heart beats 100,000 times per day pumping about 2,000 gallons (7,571 liters) of blood. The average human heart beating at 72 BPM (beats per minute), will beat approximately 2.5 billion times during a lifetime of 66 years.

The heart is usually situated in the middle of the thorax with the largest part of the heart slightly offset to the left underneath the breastbone or sternum and is surrounded by the lungs. The sac enclosing the heart is known as the pericardium.

anatomy of the human heart

The heart consists of the following parts:
Aorta: It is the largest artery and carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
Superior Vena Cava: Deoxygenated blood from the upper parts of the body returns to the heart through the superior vena cava.
Inferior Vena Cava: Deoxygenated blood from the lower parts of the body returns to the heart through the inferior vena cava.
Pulmonary Veins: They carry oxygenated blood from the lungs back to the heart.
Pulmonary Arteries: They carry blood from the heart to the lungs to pick up oxygen.
Right Atrium: It collects deoxygenated blood returning from the body (through the vena cavas) and then forces it into the right ventricle through the tricuspid valve.
Right Ventricle: It collects deoxygenated blood from the right atrium and then forces it into the lungs through the pulmonary valve.
Left Atrium: It collects oxygenated blood returning from the lungs and then forces it into the left ventricle through the mitral valve.
Left Ventricle: It is the largest and the strongest chamber in the heart. It pushes blood through the aortic valve and into the body.

HOW DOES THE HEART FUNCTION?

The right side of the heart collects de-oxygenated blood from the body into the right atrium and then via the right ventricle pumps it into the lungs so that carbon dioxide can be dropped off and oxygen picked up.

The left side of the heart collects oxygenated blood from the lungs into the left atrium. From the left atrium the blood moves to the left ventricle which pumps it out to supply oxygen to the body.

Login or register to Healhtbase to request a FREE quote for affordable cardiac surgery overseas.

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