Heart diseases have emerged as the number one killer in both urban and rural areas of the country.Every 33 seconds, someone dies from heart and blood vessel diseases, India’s number one killer. Since most of those deaths are from heart attack – it’s important to learn all you can about heart attack.
- AGE: The incidence of Heart Disease increases with advancing age but today we are seeing people getting heart attack at a younger age.
- SEX: Men are at a greater risk of heart attacks as compared to women but due to excessive stress more women are getting prone to heart diseases.
- HEREDITY: People with a strong family history of heart disease are at a greater risk as one cannot change one’s parents. Early prevention can surely decrease the risk.
Don’t ignore heart problems. It’s a matter of life and death! For example, you should know the warning signs so you can get help right away, either for yourself or someone close to you. Acting quickly can save many, many lives! Get help fast if you feel any of these signs:
- Uncomfortable heavy feeling, pressure, pain or squeezing in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes.
- Pain that goes to your shoulders, neck or arms
- Discomfort in your chest along with a light head, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.
- Discomfort in walking and speeding up.
What is Heart-Attack?
Heart Attack or Myocardial Infarction (medically called MI or Coronary Thrombosis) is the consequence of the complete obstruction of Artery that supply blood to a part of the heart muscles. This occurs due to a 100% blockages in any of the coronary arteries or their branches. The heart muscles are completely deprived of their blood and oxygen supply which leads to the death.
The severity of the heart attack would depend on how much area of the heart muscle is actually involved. It is mild, if only 5 to 10 % area is involved and most of the patients survive. But if the dead area is more than 30 to 40 % of the heart muscles, the attack is considered severe, and if not managed properly and immediately, can even lead to death.
Causes Of Heart Attack
Another name for a heart attack is myocardial infarction) – “M.I.” for short. It occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked (often by a blood clot). This happens because coronary arteries that supply the heart with blood slowly become clogged from a buildup of cells, fat and cholesterol called plaque Blood that tries to flow through these clogged arteries can form a clot. If this clot cuts off the blood flow completely, the part of the heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die.
HIGH BLOOD CHOLESTEROL: Recognized as one of the first three risk factors leading to heart disease. A fat particle with a complex structure, if present in more than adequate quantity in blood gets deposited to create blockages. A diet rich in cholesterol source is a major culprit.
HIGH BLOOD TRIGLYCERIDES: Increased level of Triglycerides or fat in food is another factor for heart disease. A level of 160 mg/100ml is associated with increased incidence.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE: A “silent killer”, High Blood pressure puts an extra strain on the heart and is also a major cause for deposition of cholesterol and fat in the coronary arteries.
OBESITY: Lack of physical exercise & wrong food habits will make a person obese and increases their chances of getting a heart disease.
STRESS AND MENTAL TENSION: Psychological stress is recognized as most important risk factor for heart disease. In absence of other risk factors people can still have angina, if stress is not controlled as it leads to spasm of coronary arteries.
SEDENTARY LIFE STYLE: Modern mechanization makes everything available easily, as a result physical activity of people is almost nil which predisposes them to many disease.
INTAKE OF ALCOHOL: Alcohol owing to it’s structural similarity with glycerol is associated with major risk. It is a source of empty calories and leads to diseases of liver, gastritis etc.
LOW HDL CHOLESTEROL: HDL also called “good cholesterol “ can be another factor for CHD as it binds cholesterol and remove it from blockages.
SMOKING OR TOBACOO CONSUMPTION: Smoking or Tobacco Consumption studies have proved that smoking substantially increases the risk of heart attack. Consuming tobacco in any form is equally hazardous as both are bad for health.
DIABETES MELLITUS: Uncontrolled blood sugar levels associated with obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels are responsible for CHD.
How to avoid Heart Attack?
Even if you have heart disease, there’s a lot you can do to improve the health of your heart. Making changes can prevent a heart attack. Ask your doctor or nurse for help and information about how to change.
- Don’t smoke.
- Treat high blood pressure if you have it.
- Eat a diet that’s low in fat, cholesterol and salt,and oil free.
- Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Keep your weight in the normal range.
- Follow your doctor’s orders for taking medicine.
- See your doctor for regular checkups.
- Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes.
Lipid Profile Report
Since the heart disease is caused by fats, which is existing in different forms in the blood stream — heart patients are recommended to get a Lipid Profile Test. This is a blood test where the parameters usually tested are — Cholesterol, Triglycerides, HDL Cholesterol (good Cholesterol), LDL Cholest erol and VLDL Cholesterol. Blood has to be collected after 12 hours of fasting in this test.
In this noninvasive test, a technician will place probes on your chest that record the electrical impulses that make your heart beat. An ECG records these electrical signals and can help your doctor detect irregularities in your heart’s rhythm and structure. You may have an ECG while you’re at rest or while exercising (stress electrocardiogram).
In this test, a short tube (sheath) is inserted into a vein or artery in your leg (groin) or arm. A hollow, flexible and longer tube (guide catheter) is then inserted into the sheath. Aided by X-ray images on a monitor, your doctor threads the guide catheter through that artery until it reaches your heart. The pressures in your heart chambers can be measured, and dye can be injected. The dye can be seen on an X-ray, which helps your doctor see the blood flow through your heart, blood vessels and valves to check for abnormalities.
CT coronary angiography or scan 128/64 slice
This test is often used to check for heart failure or heart arrhythmias. In a cardiac CT scan, you lie on a table inside a doughnut-shaped machine. An X-ray tube inside the machine rotates around your body and collects images of your heart and chest. Some walk-in clinics may advertise heart scans that look for calcium buildup in your arteries, which may show you’re at risk of having a heart attack. However, these scans are not recommended for most people, as the information they provide isn’t often useful.
During the heart attack the muscles of the heart die, as they are not getting any blood supply. As the Cholesterol Blockages cannot be removed (which form 70-80 %), the blood clot removal is the only source of relief for the patients – who are in the face of losing heart muscles.
Immediate injection of clot busters like Streptokinase, Urokinase (very expensive injections) or drip of Heparin is the only possible remedial measure. If they are able to break the clot ( which usually closes 20-30% of the lumen of the tube), the heart muscles would be able to get at least some blood immediately and will survive if administered within one hour of the attack these injections can nullify almost all the damages of the heart attack. It will still have some effect if given within next five hours. But many a time these injections fail to deliver results. These medicines also have their side-effects like internal bleedings, cerebral hemorrhage, peptic ulcer bleeding and can be dangerous sometimes.
The damaged area of the heart causes a strain on the other live areas of the heart muscles. And it is very essential to avoid further heart attacks. So, after a heart attack, the patients are advised to stay in the hospital for a period of about seven days, the first few days being in the ICCU (Intensive Coronary Care Unit). Here, it is possible to take care of any emergency.
Early mobilisation of the heart attack patient, starting from the fifth day, is the latest concept of treatment. Previously it was seen that heart patients were not allowed any movement for the next one month or so. Now the dictum has changed, as with early movement (walks, exercises) the recovery has been found to be better.
Angioplasty is a non-surgical procedure that can be used to open blocked heart arteries. Stent placement is another option that can be done during angioplasty.
Heart bypass surgery can be used to treat heart disease when your coronary arteries are blocked. Your doctor may treat the problem by giving the blood a new pathway to the heart.
Prevent Heart Attack
The simple message is “Do not create more blockages. If you can reduce it, heart attack would never occur.” It is like a bundle of notes being guarded by a rubber band. If you keep on putting more and more notes inside the rubber band one day the rubber band has to shap. This is the situation of a heart attack where the membrane also breaks off. Now if you stop putting more notes, the rubber band will never break. Further, if you start taking out one or two notes from the bundle everyday, the rubber band will never break.
The same principle applies in prevention of heart attack. Control of all the risk factors of heart disease by adequate change in the lifestyle can prevent heart attacks. The following are the expected parameters to prevent heart attacks :
- Cholesterol below 130 mg/dl.
- Triglycerides 60 to 100 mg/dl
- HDL Cholesterol 40 to 60 mg/dl.
- Blood glucose (Fasting) 70 to 100 mg/dl.
- Blood Glucose(PP) below 140 mg/dl.
- Blood Pressure 120/80 mmHg.
- Maximum permissible exercises.
- Body weight in proportion to height.
- Stop smoking completely.
- Control stress.
- Oil/Ghee in food is banned completely.
- Consume salads and fruits in plenty.
- Restrict consumption of milk and milk products.
- Avoid meat of any kind.
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