He has his heart in the 'right' place

Thimme Gowda, 62, a farmer from Bellandur Gate, has got his heart in the ‘right place,’ literally.

He recently walked into the Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) only to discover that his heart is on the right side! Much to the curiosity of medical students as well as Gowda’s family members, doctors at KIMS declared that he belongs to the rare set of people with dextrocardia, a heart condition found among one in 15,000. They further pronounced that his heart is located on the right side of the thoracic cavity. 

Gowda claimed that he stepped into a hospital for the first time. He was admitted to the hospital after he complained of stomach ache and fever. While his medical reports suggested that he had to be operated upon for hernia, a scanning report revealed an entirely different aspect: his ‘right heart’. 

“This is the first time I came to a hospital for treatment. I had no idea that my heart was on the right,” Gowda said, adding that he faced no discomfort which would require him to have a checkup. 

Gowda’s hospital reports revealed that he has no other associated cardiac problem, making his case all the more uncommon. His condition is called isolated dextrocardia (where one has dextrocardia, yet a healthy heart). 

Dr Devendra N S, Head of the Department of Cardiology, Manipal Hospital, said that just “a countable number” of people have dextrocardia. “Having isolated dextrocardia is extremely rare.” 

While patients whose heart is on the right usually have complications such as transposed arteries, those having isolated dextrocardia have a heart that functions normally, like of those who have the vital organ on the left. “There might be complications associated with this. But this in itself will not lead to any other complications,” Dr Devendra explained. 

He, however, cautioned that environmental factors and personal habits such as smoking could pose an equal risk. He also debunked the “warning” posted on most online sites that the condition might be a potential threat to pregnant women. 

The congenital heart condition occurs in the foetal stage when the most developed organs find position in the body. In a few cases, there is a shift in the position which results in this condition. 

“As far as the person knows where the heart is located, there must be no problem,” Dr Devendra remarked, jovially. Differential growth in a few cases might lead to changes in programming that in turn shifts the position of these organs. Devendra said there were also special cases where not just the heart but also all other organs in the body were reversed in individuals. “This is called situs inversus totalis,” he said. 

Another condition where the heart is located in the centre of the thorax is called mesocarida. 

“A child had his heart on the chest. This being a special case needed to be operated upon. But the parents could not bear the medical expenses and took the child back,” he said. 

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