Truncus arteriosus (TRUNG-kus ahr-teer-e-O-sus) is a heart defect that creates severe circulatory problems. If your baby has truncus arteriosus, one large vessel leads out of the heart, instead of two separate vessels — one leading out of each of the lower chambers of the heart. Also, the two lower chambers are missing a portion of the wall dividing them. As a result of truncus arteriosus, oxygen-poor blood that should go to the lungs and oxygen-rich blood that should go to the rest of the body are mixed together.
If left untreated, truncus arteriosus usually leads to death within the first or second year of life. Surgery to repair the heart and blood vessels is usually successful, especially if the repair occurs before your baby is 2 months old.
Truncus arteriosus, one of the least common heart defects, is also known as persistent truncus arteriosus.
Truncus arteriosus occurs during fetal growth when your baby’s heart is developing and is, therefore, present at birth (congenital). In most cases the cause is unknown. An overview of typical heart structure and function is helpful in understanding the defects of truncus arteriosus.
Your heart has four pumping chambers that circulate your blood. The “doors” of the chambers (valves) control the flow of blood, opening and closing to ensure that blood flows in a single direction.
The heart’s four chambers are: Continue reading Truncus arteriosus
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of your brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. Within a few minutes, brain cells begin to die. Stroke is a medical emergency, and prompt treatment of a stroke is crucial. Early treatment can minimize damage to your brain and potential stroke complications. The good news is that strokes can be treated, and many fewer Americans now die of strokes than was the case 20 or 30 years ago. Improvement in the control of major risk factors for stroke — high blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol — is likely responsible for the decline.
Watch for these stroke symptoms if you think you or someone else is having a stroke: Continue reading Stroke
An electrocardiogram is used to monitor your heart. Each beat of your heart is triggered by an electrical impulse generated from special cells in the right upper chamber of your heart. An electrocardiogram — also called an ECG or EKG — records these electrical signals as they travel through your heart. Your doctor can use an electrocardiogram to look for patterns among these heartbeats and rhythms to diagnose various heart conditions.
An electrocardiogram is a non-invasive, painless test. You doctor will likely report the results of your electrocardiogram the same day it’s performed.
An electrocardiogram is a painless, noninvasive way to diagnose many common types of heart problems. Your doctor may use an electrocardiogram to detect irregularities in your heart rhythm, heart defects, or problems with the supply of blood and oxygen to your heart. An electrocardiogram can also confirm if you’re having a heart attack or if you’ve had a heart attack in the past. Continue reading Electrocardiogram
In a given year, 18 out of 100 women age 12 and older experience at least one migraine headache, a misfortune that strikes only 6 pecent to 7 percent of men. What’s behind the difference? The answer, in a word, is hormones, but the explanation is far from complete.
The role of hormones
Many factors contribute to headaches for both men and women, including family history and age. Women, however, often notice a relationship between headaches and hormonal changes. Headaches often begin around the time of a girl’s first period and accompany menstruation regularly throughout the reproductive years. Birth control pills and hormone therapy also can trigger headaches. During pregnancy, headaches often become less bothersome. The simple explanation? The hormones estrogen and progesterone — which play key roles in regulating the menstrual cycle and pregnancy — may affect headache-related chemicals in the brain as well. Higher estrogen levels may improve headaches, while lower estrogen levels can make headaches worse. Continue reading About the connection between headaches and hormones
Congenital heart defects are problems in the heart present at birth. One of the most complex and rare congenital heart conditions is hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a condition in which the left side of the heart is critically underdeveloped.
If your baby is born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, the left side of the heart can’t effectively pump blood to the body, so the right side of the heart must pump blood both to the lungs and to the rest of the body.
Medication to prevent closure of the connection between the right and left sides, followed by either surgery or a heart transplant, is necessary to treat hypoplastic left heart syndrome. With advances in care, the outlook for babies born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome is better now than in the past.
Babies born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome usually are seriously ill immediately after birth. Signs and symptoms include: Continue reading About hypoplastic left heart syndrome