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Heart Conditions

Sacred Heart HealthCare System diagnoses and treats a variety of heart conditions. Some of those include:

  • What is an aneurysm? An aortic aneurysm is a swelling or bulge in the aorta, the main artery in your body. When the section of the aorta with the aneurysm is weakened, it can burst and cause serious bleeding. Aneurysms may result from conditions such as high blood pressure or atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
  • How is an aneurysm diagnosed? Scans can determine the existence of an aneurysm. Aortography, a process that takes a picture of your aorta, is used to identify, locate, and measure the size of the aneurysm.
  • How is an aneurysm treated? The size of the aneurysm will determine how it is treated. If your aneurysm is small, it will be managed with blood pressure medication. If your aneurysm is large, it may be treated with minimally invasive stent grafting.


  • What is arrhythmia? Arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat that can occur in healthy hearts as well as hearts suffering from heart disease, heart muscle changes, or injury from a heart attack. Your heart can beat too slowly or too quickly. The most common form of arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation (AF). With AF, the electrical impulses in your atria (two chambers of your heart) do not travel in an orderly fashion. Without treatment, arrhythmia can increase the risk of stroke and heart disease, so early detection is vital.
  • How is arrhythmia diagnosed? If your doctor suspects you have arrhythmia, you may undergo a stress test, may need to use a holter monitor, or may need to have an electrocardiogram (EKG).
  • How is arrhythmia treated? Arrhythmia can be treated with medication, or your doctor may insert a pacemaker or an implantable defibrillator. If you have AF, your doctor may also decide that you need cardioversion, a procedure in which a small electric shock is used to return your heart rate to a normal rhythm.

Heart Attack

  • What is a heart attack? A heart attack, or myocardial infarction (MI), is permanent damage to your heart muscle. When a blood clot completely blocks an artery, your heart muscle becomes starved for oxygen, resulting in the death of heart muscle.
  • How is a heart attack diagnosed? A heart attack can be diagnosed through an electrocardiogram (EKG), echocardiogram, blood tests, and/or cardiac catheterization.
  • How is a heart attack prevented? Sacred Heart HealthCare System provides access to cardiologists and other cardiac specialists who can help you prevent a heart attack by diagnosing and treating conditions such as blocked arteries, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. If left untreated, these conditions can lead to critical heart conditions.

Heart Disease

  • What is heart disease? Heart disease is the general term used to describe conditions affecting the heart, such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, congestive heart failure, and congenital heart disease. Diagnostic catheterizations and other procedures can be performed to determine the treatment and management of any conditions that put you at risk for developing heart disease. Your doctor can assess your risk factors for heart disease by taking your heart rate, listening to your heartbeat, measuring your blood pressure, performing a physical exam, and ordering blood tests.
  • How is heart disease diagnosed? Your doctor will diagnose heart disease by performing a stress test, electrocardiogram (EKG), or cardiac catheterization.
  • How is heart disease treated? The treatment options for heart disease vary according to the severity and type of conditions you have. Treatments vary from medical therapy to more invasive approaches such as surgery.

Heart Failure

  • What is heart failure? Heart failure is a condition in which your heart’s pumping power is weaker than it should be, rendering your heart unable to effectively meet your body’s oxygen and nutrient needs.
  • How is heart failure diagnosed? Heart failure is diagnosed by cardiac catheterization, blood tests, B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) blood test, a chest X-ray, echocardiogram, calculation of ejection fraction (EF), electrocardiogram (EKG), and/or a stress test.
  • How is heart failure treated? The severity of heart failure will determine the treatment. Heart failure may be treated through medication, an implantable defibrillator, or surgery.

Valve Disease

  • What is valve disease? Valve disease occurs when your heart’s valves fail to work properly. Some types of valve disease include:
    • Valvular stenosis: A heart valve opening is smaller than normal, making it difficult for your heart to pump blood through the valve.
    • Valvular insufficiency: Also referred to as regurgitation, incompetence, or a “leaky valve,” this condition occurs when a heart valve does not close tightly. Some blood leaks back through the valve, causing your heart to work harder.
  • How is valve disease diagnosed? An echocardiogram, a transesophageal echocardiogram, or cardiac catheterization can determine the existence of valve disease.
  • How is valve disease treated? The treatment for valve disease depends on the severity of your condition. Treatment for valve disease may involve medical management, surgery, or other procedures.
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