On March 2, 2023, Indian actress Sushmita Sen revealed that she underwent an angioplasty in the heart after suffering a massive heart attack. The former Miss Universe took to Instagram to share the news with her fans. While Ms. Sen has been recovering well, it is worth noting that she was diagnosed with Addison’s disease back in 2014.
Addison’s disease is a rare autoimmune disorder that can cause various symptoms, including fatigue, weight loss, and low blood pressure. While Addison’s disease is known to affect many aspects of the body, including the heart, it is unclear whether there is a link between this condition and heart attack.
In this article, we will take a closer look at Addison’s disease and understand whether it can increase an individual’s risk of heart attacks. Let’s get started.
Addison’s Disease: A Closer Look
Addison’s disease is a chronic condition that occurs when the immune system attacks the adrenal glands located above each kidney. It causes them to produce inadequate amounts of the hormones cortisol and aldosterone. Cortisol is a hormone that helps regulate the body’s response to stress, while aldosterone helps regulate blood pressure and electrolyte balance.
When these hormones are deficient, you may experience symptoms such as:
- Fatigue and weakness: This is one of the most common symptoms of Addison’s disease. Individuals with this condition may feel excessively tired, even after getting plenty of rest.
- Weight loss: Individuals with Addison’s disease may experience unintended weight loss, even with a good appetite.
- Low blood pressure: Addison’s disease can cause a drop in blood pressure, leading to dizziness or fainting.
- Salt cravings: This is a common symptom of Addison’s disease, as the body tries to compensate for the loss of aldosterone, which helps regulate sodium and potassium balance.
- Nausea and vomiting: Individuals with Addison’s disease may experience digestive symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting.
- Hyperpigmentation: In some cases, patients with Addison’s disease may experience hyperpigmentation, where the skin and mucous membranes become darker.
- Joint pain: Addison’s disease can cause joint pain and stiffness.
How Does Addison’s Disease Affect the Heart?
Addison’s disease can affect the heart in several ways due to hormonal imbalances in the body. The adrenal glands, which are damaged in Addison’s disease, produce several hormones that play a crucial role in regulating heart function.
Here are some ways in which Addison’s disease can affect the heart:
- Decreased blood volume: Addison’s disease can lead to reduced blood volume due to a lack of aldosterone. It can cause a drop in blood pressure, which can affect blood flow to the heart.
- Reduced cardiac output: In Addison’s disease, the lack of cortisol can minimize cardiac output, which is the amount of blood pumped by the heart per minute. That can make it harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body, increasing the risk of heart failure.
- Electrolyte imbalances: Addison’s disease can cause imbalances in electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, which are crucial for normal heart function. Low potassium levels, in particular, can lead to an irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia.
- Inflammation: Some studies suggest that individuals with Addison’s disease may be more likely to develop atherosclerosis. In this condition, the arteries become narrow and stiff due to the buildup of fatty deposits, exacerbating the risk of heart disease and heart attack.
That makes it crucial for individuals with Addison’s disease to work closely with a heart disease specialist to manage the condition and monitor any potential effects on the heart. Early detection can help you seek heart disease treatment at the right time and minimize the risk of a heart attack.
What to Do If You Have Addison’s Disease?
If you have Addison’s disease, working closely with your healthcare provider and a heart specialist to manage your condition and reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease is crucial. Treatment may include hormone replacement therapy to replace the deficient cortisol and aldosterone hormones. It may also include lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider can help monitor your heart function and detect any early signs of cardiovascular disease. If you have Addison’s disease, it is a good idea to reach out to the best cardiologist in India to assess your risk of a heart attack.
While Addison’s disease can affect many organs of the body, including the heart, the link between this condition and heart attack is not yet fully understood. However, individuals with Addison’s disease are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including hypertension, arrhythmias, and heart failure.
That, in turn, puts them at a higher risk of heart attacks. However, proper treatment and healthy lifestyle changes can help manage the condition.
Dr. C Raghu is an eminent cardiologist in Hyderabad, known for his work in interventional cardiology. If you or anyone you know has Addison’s disease and is concerned about the risk of a heart attack, feel free to book a consultation with Dr. Raghu today.