Is there a connection between blunt chest trauma and heart problems?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I had a bicycle car accident. I went over the hood and landed on my back on the opposite side of the car. My back pack probably saved my life. It moved up and my head never hit the concrete. I suffered seven broken ribs, a broken clavicle and scapula. I now have developed congestive heart failure and arrhythmia and have a leaking left ventricular. I see some information on a connection between blunt chest trauma and these diagnosed problems. Any information would be helpful please.

Expert Answer

Carolyn Strimike, N.P. and Margie Latrella, N.P. are cardiac nurse practitioners specializing in the prevention of heart disease and stroke. They have over 40 years of nursing experience in Cardiology between them. The main goal of their work is to counsel, motivate and empower women to adopt healthy lifestyle choices.

First of all glad to hear you did not experience any head or spine trauma after your accident. Heart problems after blunt chest trauma are common especially when broken ribs are involved. The heart lies very close to the rib cage and an injury to the chest wall can lead to heart damage. The heart muscle can become "stunned" and weakened after a traumatic injury to the chest wall, the weakened heart muscle is what causes the congestive heart failure. Sometimes the heart muscle is able to recover over time and the heart muscle may get stronger as it heals this could take several months. It is important to follow-up regularly with a cardiologist who can monitor the strength of the heart muscle. Blunt chest trauma can also cause irregular heart rhythms or arrythmias due to trauma and swelling of the heart muscle. As the heart muscle recovers and the swelling of the heart decreases some arrythmias may improve so you should also have this closely monitored by your cardiologist. The leaking left ventricular you mentioned is probably from trauma to one of the heart valves. An echocardiogram which is an ultrasound of the heart can help your doctors determine the strength of the heart muscle and monitor the heart valve function and possible recovery.