Complex Cases | William G. & Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine | Loyola Medicine

Complex Cases

Overview and Facts about Complex Cases

Complex cases related to heart conditions can occur for many reasons. Often, the patient suffering from heart conditions have multiple disorders or diseases that make treatment difficult. This could include a secondary complication with the heart or another life-threatening condition that impacts other systems or organs.

Many cases of complex heart conditions involve a congenital heart defect, which is a heart condition present at birth. Congenital heart defects impact about nine out of every 1,000 births in the United States and are the most common birth defects in the country.

To get the best treatment for complex cases of heart conditions, a multidisciplinary approach is best. An interdisciplinary treatment team can maximize results while lowering complications for high-risk patients.

Signs and Symptoms of Complex Cases

Depending on the type of heart condition you have, there can be a variety of symptoms. In some cases, the signs and symptoms of heart conditions go unnoticed, especially in the early stages.

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of complex heart conditions include:

  • Chest pressure or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe fatigue
  • Difficulty with exercise or vigorous activities
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Swelling in the legs, feet or ankles
  • Bloating due to water retention in the abdomen
  • Pain in the jaw or left arm​

Causes and Risk Factors of Complex Cases

In cases of congenital heart defects, most often the cause is unknown, but it could include (but not be limited to) a disease passed on by the mother, side effects of medications she was taking, or inherited genetic factors.

In adults, the likelihood of complex cases of heart conditions can be increased by such risk factors as:

Tests and Diagnosis of Complex Cases

If your doctor suspects that you have a heart condition, they will perform a thorough physical examination and take a full medical history. They may also recommend testing to confirm or rule out certain conditions. These tests may include:

Treatment and Care for Complex Cases

The type of complicated heart condition you have and its severity determine the course of treatment your doctor recommends. Treatment often starts with lifestyle changes, such as eating right, exercising regularly, and reducing stress. If you smoke or drink, your doctor may encourage you to quit.

Other treatment options include:

  • Medications to manage high blood pressure and heart rate
  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Minimally invasive procedures, including ablations or catheterization
  • Device implants, such as a pacemaker or ventricular assist device
  • Heart surgery to remove damaged tissue, replace a valve, or improve heart function
  • Heart transplant