Samitivej applies cutting-edge precision medicine technologies and expertise in the fight against heart disease, Thailand’s and the world’s leading cause of death.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death of men and women in many parts of the world today. According to disturbing statistics released by the Thai Ministry of Public Health for the years 2012-2015, the number of people suffering from heart disease in Thailand continues to rise. This in turn negatively affects economic growth due to the disease’s damaging impact on the working-age population.
What is heart disease? According to Krisda Vilaiwatanakorn, M.D., cardiologist at Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital, heart disease or cardiovascular disease refers to a number of disorders which have an effect on heart function, including coronary artery disease, myocardial infarctions, arrhythmia, valvular heart disease, congenital heart defects and more. Many forms of heart disease can cause sudden death or lead to permanent disability.
Nonetheless, most types of heart disease stem from lifestyle and genetic factors with the great majority of cases attributable to lifestyle characteristics, and often involving multiple causative factors.
“Smoking or passive smoking, in any amount or over any period of time, is a major cause of cardiovascular disease. Heart disease can also be caused by a high fat diet and the consumption of overly sweet and overly salty foods. Another factor in modern lifestyles is insufficient exercise. I would recommend exercising around five times a week for about half an hour each time at medium intensity to guard against the disease.”
Dr Krisda added that it is also necessary to manage certain other contributing risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood lipid levels, high blood pressure, stress, and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. It is also advised to increase the amount of exercise and to make adjustments to eating habits by reducing salt, sugar and fat intake, which are all measures that can help prevent heart disease.
People at risk of heart disease include those who tire easily or suffer from chest pain, tightness in the chest or heart palpitations. They should consult a doctor and undergo additional diagnostic procedures which may include a stress test or stress echocardiogram, a heart ultrasound examination and a 640-slice CT scan heart assessment. Samitivej Hospital’s high-resolution CT scans can help diagnose symptoms of an acute myocardial infarction with an accuracy of up to 95 percent.
Treatment for heart disease can then be carried out based on the causes and symptoms. Treatments may include, for example, a cardiac catheterization, heart surgery and medication.
Samitivej Hospital also offers an application which is able to give patients a score related to their future risk of heart disease. Required are the patient’s gender, age, blood lipid levels and blood pressure. Those found to be at high risk should seek treatment and take steps to reduce the risk factors in their life.
Although lifestyle factors contribute to more than 90 percent of all heart disease cases, some people are also at risk of suffering from heart disease as a result of genetic predisposition, which is innate and occurs independently of environmental factors.
Ph.D. Objoon Trachoo, M.D., a specialist in the field of genetic medicine, said that hereditary heart disease is a condition that is influenced by a person’s genes. In particular, members of certain types of families are especially at risk of encountering hereditary heart disease. These include families who have several generations suffering from the same form of heart disease; families with members who experience myocardial infarctions or heart failure at a relatively young age, especially under the age of 45 for men and 55 for women; families with several members who have died suddenly and unexpectedly; and families with members who have been diagnosed with certain forms of heart disease or coronary artery disease, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD), Brugada syndrome which is notably prevalent in northeastern Thailand and Laos, groups of symptoms associated with long QT syndrome, premature atherosclerosis, Marfan syndrome, etc.
“Having family members who suffer from hereditary heart disease means that other members of the same family must take special care of their cardiovascular health. This is especially pertinent to first-degree relatives – father, mother, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters – who are most at risk of receiving the faulty genes.”
He added that all direct relations, even those who do not display any symptoms of heart disease, should undergo individual genetic screening to prevent a repeat of the deadly conditions which have affected their family.
People who suspect they may have a congenital risk of heart disease should consult a physician to gauge their risk level. Those found to be at higher than normal risk levels might be advised to take preventive measures and undergo prompt treatment before the condition can develop to a severe stage, rather than waiting until it becomes potentially debilitating and life-threatening.
Treatment for hereditary heart disease is carried out through interdisciplinary cooperation between physicians in the field of cardiovascular health and genetic disorders. Relatives of the patient will also have their risk levels analyzed, and receive advice and recommendations from specialists in the field of genetic medicine.
Diagnosis is made after carrying out a range of assessments and tests, including blood tests to identify various risk factors according to common medical indicators, and tests on the heart carried out by cardiovascular physicians. These may include, for instance, an echocardiography or cardiac MRI scan. Patients found to be at risk of early stage hereditary heart disease may be advised to undergo some form of treatment, such as medication, use of specialized equipment or surgery.
Samitivej Hospitals Group has brought the latest breakthroughs in precision medicine and genetic screening onboard to help pinpoint a person’s risk of suffering from hereditary heart disease. Effective plans and prompt treatments can then be provided well before symptoms become potentially life-threatening.
Samitivej also offers family planning advice and assistance for those with hereditary heart disease, so that they can fully understand the factors and risks that should be taken into consideration when planning a family, with excellent outcomes.
For more information, see www.samitivejhospitals.com