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Severe Heart Disease Can Lead to Heart Transplant

Cardiologist smiling and taking notesHeart disease is a general term that refers to a number of conditions that affect the flow of blood to the heart itself, as well as the rest of the body. Sometimes, these conditions are present at birth or develop very early in life, as is the case for congenital heart defects like malformed heart valves. Arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, may also occur at an early age, or they may develop as a result of another heart condition.

The disease that is most commonly referred to as heart disease is coronary artery disease, which involves the narrowing of the arteries that supply the heart with blood. This condition is caused by damage to the interior of the heart’s arteries and the buildup of plaque on these damaged surfaces. Accumulated plaque can narrow the arteries and form potentially harmful blood clots. Common symptoms of coronary heart disease include:

  • Angina – Chest pain may begin during periods of physical or emotional stress. It can feel as though the heart is being squeezed or there is a weight placed on the chest, although the pain may also occur in the jaw, neck, arms, upper stomach, or back.

  • Shortness of breath – People with coronary heart disease often feel like they can’t catch their breath, especially after activity.

  • General weakness – Coronary artery disease can often cause ongoing fatigue and weakness, especially among women with the condition.

Most people who are diagnosed with coronary heart disease can improve their condition by making changes to their lifestyles, such as stopping smoking and adhering to a healthier diet. Medications can also be useful in keeping patients healthy, but more severe cases may require an angioplasty or surgery to address the problematic arteries. If the arteries have become so blocked that the heart cannot properly circulate blood throughout the body (a condition known as heart failure), a transplant may be necessary. Tampa General Hospital’s Heart Transplant Program performs transplants for adults who have been affected by severe heart disease.

For information about our transplant team and the selection criteria for the transplant program, call 1-800-505-7769 (press 1 for the heart transplant program and ask for the referral coordinator), or call the coordinator directly at (813) 844-4088.