When the Immune System Attacks the Heart
For most people, the trinity of health factors – diet, exercise, and lifestyle – prevents the development of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. However, recent research shows that an increasing number of cases have an auto-immune aspect – the immune system itself mistakenly attacks the heart, and thus, weakening it.
In an autoimmune heart disease, the treatment options become more complicated than the standard treatment protocol for most types of heart disease. The standard involves adopting a healthy diet, exercise and lifestyle program coupled with medications to ameliorate or reverse the condition. This is not so true with autoimmune heart disease as the damage to the tissue can be irreversible.
Symptoms of Autoimmunity
Many of the symptoms of autoimmune heart disease mimic those of the non-autoimmune heart diseases, such as:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty in breathing
- Edema with exercise
- Enlarged heart
- Fluid retention
- Tiring easily
Diagnosis of the Condition
Doctors can overlook the autoimmune aspect of the heart disease. In most cases, the screening for autoimmunity only happens during the end stages when the symptoms are severe and the damages are irreversible.
Fortunately, experienced cardiologists can identify the subtle differences in the symptoms and, thus, order a blood serum antibody panel test. The panel checks for myocardial or alpha-myosin antibodies as a way of screening for autoimmunity against heart tissues. Positive results mean that the heart is under attack from the immune system.
Complications of the Condition
When you have heart issues, your best first step is to consult with a cardiologist for a definitive diagnosis and treatment. The earlier your heart condition can be diagnosed, the better your chances for successful treatment. Keep in mind, that an untreated autoimmune heart disease will adversely affect the lungs, liver and kidney, among other organs in your body. It may even result in sudden death.
Furthermore, the inflammatory damage can result in one of the following conditions:
- Pericarditis, which can lead to reduced heart function
- Myocarditis, which can be fatal
- Endocarditis, which can result in valve stenosis
Suffice it to say that an untreated autoimmune heart disease can adversely and seriously damage your overall health. If you suspect any heart problems, then the time to act is now! Come to Healthpointe to see a trained cardiologist!
Treatment for the Condition
Your cardiologist will determine the best treatment for your case. Keep in mind that each case is different so your treatment protocol will also be different from the others. The best treatment will be provided depending on the type of disease. It is important for you to be an active participant in the management of your autoimmune heart disease as it is, in fact, your health that is at stake.
In general, your cardiologist will recommend a combination of a heart-healthy diet (i.e., low sodium, low fat, and low cholesterol). The cardiologist will recommend a moderate exercise program, if your heart condition allows for it; and a set of sensible lifestyle habits including sufficient sleep, stress management, and avoidance of cigarettes, alcohol, and recreational drugs. You may also be asked to adopt a gluten-free diet as it can significantly improve your heart condition.
Of course, you should work with your cardiologist, among other healthcare providers, to ensure that you are on track in your treatment program.
If you’re seeking the finest specialists that provide the best care for your cardiology needs, then look no further. Healthpointe is the place to be! For more information, visit us at healthpointemd.net.
Healthpointe is a leading multidisciplinary healthcare organization offering a full range of medical services in practice locations throughout Southern California (Los Angeles county, Orange county, San Bernardino county and Riverside county). Healthpointe has locations situated in over 10 cities in Southern California including Anaheim, which is conveniently located near Whittier, La Habra, Norwalk, La Mirada, Cerritos, Buena Park and Santa Fe Springs. As a highly regarded musculoskeletal group, we have a personal investment in the highest level of service, and we are proud of our record of excellence over the last four decades with private patients, injured workers, urgent care, personal injuries, and professional and non-professional athletes. Leading our organization is a dynamic team of healthcare professionals who continually strive to be at the forefront of medical innovation and healthcare service delivery. For more information, a complete list of services, and Healthpointe locations, visit healthpointe.net