HEART ATTACK

HEART ATTACK

Heart attack is a condition which is caused due to breaking of atherosclerosis plaque or is dislodged from the wall of a vessel supplying blood to the heart and is suddenly obstructed. A blood clot can also form on the site of plaque of atherosclerosis in a coronary artery, preventing blood reaching the heart. Due to this the heart muscles are no longer oxygenated and they start to die and are replaced by scar tissue. The heart cannot pump blood efficiently if large areas of heart muscle are replaced by scar tissue.

When the coronary artery becomes blocked, heart is deprived of blood and oxygen it needs to survive. This lessens the hearts ability to pump blood efficiently all around the body which eventually leads to a heart attack. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is one of the major risk factor which leads to a heart attack as the coronary arteries feeding the heart with rich oxygenated blood get completely blocked. These coronary arteries are blocked due to the accumulation of fatty deposits known as plaque. Ventricular Fibrillation is also one of the cause which leads to death due to heart attack if it is not treated in time. It is caused due uncoordinated series of rapid and ineffective contraction of ventricles. Chaotic electrical impulses are the main reason behind the ineffective contraction of ventricles which is potentially fatal and causes unconsciousness in seconds.

Heart attack is the single largest cause of more than 140,000 deaths every year in the UK, around 400,000 in Europe, and an astounding 500,000 in the United States. Smoking, stress, unhealthy lifestyle, obesity, high cholesterol levels, poor diet and less physical activity are the major risk factors which are responsible for heart attack. High levels of fibrogen and lipoprotein A encourage the formation of blood clots and are responsible for heart attack and formation of atheroma plaque. Higher homocysteine levels increase the chances of heart attack by three times.

A healthy, well balanced, nutritious diet along with regular physical activity and giving up cigarette smoking is very essential for healthy heart. Stress of any kind whether mental or physical should be avoided at any cost to prevent cardiovascular diseases.

Heart Attack Causes

Stress

Stress, whether physical or emotional, increases the heart’s workload, making it beat faster than normal, raising blood pressure. All this results in the heart needing more oxygen and if the coronary arteries are blocked, this request cannot be met, leading to Angina pectoris or a heart attack.

Coronary artery disease

One of the most common causes of heart attack is coronary heart disease.Coronary heart disease is caused due to accumulation of atheromatous plaque within the walls of arteries that supply fresh oxygenated blood to the heart. When the arteries are completely blocked, the supply of blood to the heart is completely cut off which eventually leads to a heart attack.

Smoking

Smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 70%. It also increases the risk of sudden death due to coronary heart disease. Carbon monoxide contained in the smoke can clump the platelets in the blood, which makes the blood sticky and thus block coronary arteries. The chances of having a severe heart attack due are seen quite often among habitual smokers.

Sedentary lifestyle and Obesity

People with sedentary lifestyle, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and hypercholesterolemia run a greater risk of having a heart attack. High cholesterol levels also cause the coronary arteries to narrow due to accumulation of plaque on the walls of the arteries. If arteries are completely blocked it can lead to a massive heart attack.

High blood cholesterol

High cholesterol levels are one of the major causes that make the coronary arteries narrow due to the buildup of fatty deposits known as plaque inside the walls of the arteries. Including the diet rich in cholesterol increases the risk of Low density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol in the blood. The high percentage of this bad cholesterol leads to atherosclerosis. LDL does not support the transportation of cholesterol molecules outside the body as result of which these molecules deposit on the vessel walls. Due to this fatty buildup (plaque) inside the artery, it restricts the supply of oxygenated blood to the heart and makes the heart incapable of pumping blood efficiently all around the body. On the contrary High density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterols facilitates the transportation of cholesterol molecules out of the body. Adequate HDL levels are required to prevent the chances of plaque getting deposited inside the artery and thus help to keep heart healthy.

Atherosclerosis

The primary cause for heart attack is atherosclerosis, which is the result of the accumulation of fatty deposits called asplaque inside the arteries which carry fresh oxygenated blood and nutrients to the heart and heart muscles. Atherosclerosis restrict the supply of oxygenated blood to the heart as these fatty deposits make the arteries narrow which obstruct the normal flow of the blood and therefore restrict the supply of oxygen to the heart muscles, making them incapable of pumping blood all around the body. This condition also makes the artery less elastic, which is called as hardening of the arteries. The hardening of the arteries causes an increase in resistance to blood flow, and therefore an increase in blood pressure. Helicobacter pylorus is a kind of bacteria which causes inflammation in the coronary artery and increases the chances for atherosclerosis. 

Diabetes

Diabetes is also referred to as a silent killer as it does not show any symptoms related to heart attack. It is a disease, in which the pancreas does not produce enough insulin which causes glucose level in the blood to increase, instead of being used for energy. Patients suffering from type 2 diabetes mellitus are more prone to heart attacks. According to several studies it has been indicated that 43 percent people suffering from diabetes have higher risk of having a heart attack. People suffering from diabetes tend to have higher LDL levels than HDL levels. The higher percentage of LDL or bad cholesterol obstruct the normal flow of oxygenated blood to the heart, thus making heart inefficient for pumping blood all around the body.

Heart Attack Risk factors

Non controllable risk factors

Age

Age play a crucial role in the development of symptoms related to heart attack. It generally affects people above 55 yrs but recent studies have shown that the incidences of heart attack among young people have also increased considerably. Old people are at a higher risk of developing heart conditions as their arteries become hard and narrow due to the accumulation of plaque over the period of time.

Heredity

Generally, heart attack affects children born with parents having heart disease. They tend to show the symptoms of this disease later on in life.  Family background with brief history of heart related complication is one of the major risk factors affecting many people. This risk factor cannot be prevented but people should implement other defensive measures if they have strong heart related complications running down in their family.

Race

African Americans, native Hawaiians, Mexicans and Asians have higher rates of obesity and diabetes and thus are at a higher risk of developing coronary heart diseases.

Controllable risk factors

Diabetes

Diabetes is also referred to as a silent killer as it does not show any symptoms related to heart attack. It is a disease, in which the pancreas does not produce enough insulin which causes glucose level in the blood to increase, instead of being used for energy. Patients suffering from type 2 diabetes mellitus are more prone to heart attacks. According to several studies it has been indicated that 43 percent people suffering from diabetes have higher risk of having a heart attack. People suffering from diabetes tend to have higher LDL levels than HDL levels. The higher percentage of LDL or bad cholesterol obstruct the normal flow of oxygenated blood to the heart, thus making heart inefficient for pumping blood all around the body.

Obesity and sedentary lifestyle

Obesity is related to the increased risk of heart attacks as it is associated with high cholesterol levels, hypertension and diabetes. According to recent survey, approximately 65 percent of adults are overweight and this tendency is also seen to be growing among young childrens. Person who is overweight often find it difficult to do any kind of physical activity and are highly prone to cardiovascular diseases. Sedentary lifestyle also affects the hearts health to a large extent. Physical activity not only helps to lose weight but also facilitates efficient working of heart. A person with sedentary lifestyle has an increased risk of getting obese and is often affected with hypertension, high cholesterol levels and diabetes.

Fibrogen and lipoprotein

High level of fibrogen and lipoprotein A encourage the formation of blood clots and are responsible for heart attack and formation of atheroma plaque. To prevent the formation of this plaque, diet rich in fibrogen and lipoproteins should be avoided.

High Blood pressure

Blood pressure is used to measure the pressure of blood flow inside the arteries. If the blood pressure is higher than normal level then it is called as hypertension and it can lead to a massive heart attack. The symptoms of hypertension cannot be recognized by some people but consistent high blood pressure levels can prove to be more fatal. High salt intake, smoking, stress, obesity and physical inactivity are some of the reasons responsible for hypertension. People suffering from high blood pressure are always advised to reduce salt intake in their diet, to give up smoking and to engage in some kind of physical activity. Keeping blood pressure at a normal level will prove to be very beneficial for hearts health and prevent heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases.

Smoking

Smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 70 and it is the major cause of death worldwide. Cigarette smoke contains harmful chemicals and carbon monoxide which clump the platelets present in the blood. These clumped platelets make the blood sticky and eventually block coronary arteries. It also affects linings of artery walls and thus facilitates easy accumulation of plaque. Giving up smoking is the most excellent way to keep away from heart attacks and other heart related problems.

Heart Attack Symptoms

Blood supply in the coronary arteries is reduced or completely cut off due to blockage. As a result a blood clot may form in the arteries which can lead to a heart attack. People having a heart attack may experience fullness, pain in the chest or angina, uncomfortable pressure, pain in the shoulder, neck or arms. Reduction of oxygen to the muscle of the heart causes the pain of angina pectoris and it often comes with increased emotion, cold weather, or following a heavy meal.

Some of the common symptoms associated with heart attack are anxiety, sweaty skin, paleness, irregular heart rate. If a person tends to show any of the above mentioned symptoms, prompt medical treatment should be given. Women may show symptoms of unusual or unexplained fatigue and abdominal discomfort. Some people may experience mild pain in the chest while others may experience excruciating pain.  In severe cases heart attack may lead to brain injury, heart failure or even sudden death.

Heart attack symptoms in men

Following are the common symptoms which are generally seen in men having a heart attack. A prompt medical treatment should be taken for these symptoms otherwise it can prove fatal.

  • Angina
  • Discomfort
  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Heaviness
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Cold sweat
  • Rapid or irregular heart beats
  • Pain in both arms, back, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath

Heart attack symptoms in women

Following are the common symptoms which are generally seen in women having a heart attack. A prompt medical treatment should be taken for these symptoms otherwise it can prove fatal.

  • Excessive sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Pain in arms, neck or jaw
  • Chest pain
  • Indigestion
  • Heaviness
  • Fatigue
  • Discomfort in the abdomen

Heart Attack Prevention

Smoking, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and hypercholesterolemia are the factor which leads to increase chances of having heart attack. High cholesterol level also causes the coronary arteries to narrow due to accumulation of plaque on the walls of the arteries. The arteries are also completely blocked due to high level of cholesterol. Preventive measures should be adopted in the beginning of early childhood to avoid any complications related to heart. Maintaining healthy weight, including a nutritious and healthy diet, physical activity and giving up tobacco are some of the preventive measures which reduce the risk of heart attack.

Physical exercise

Physical activity of any sort is beneficial, as it helps to keep normal blood pressure and release pent- up energy. Regular physical activity improves blood circulation and thus reduces the risk of heart attacks. For maintaining a healthy weight, cardio exercises prove to be very beneficial as it helps to maintain heart health by lowering bad cholesterol levels.

Healthy diet

Taking a balanced and nutritious diet is the excellent preventive measure that can be adopted against any cardiovascular diseases. Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals should be included in the daily dietary intake as they help to protect against heart diseases and some cancers. The people who are engaged in weight loss should include diet low in calories and fats. Soluble fibers such as cereals, beans, peas, lentils, citrus fruits, strawberries and apples helps to lower bad cholesterol or LDL levels. Insoluble fibers such as whole meal bread, cauliflower, beetroot and prune aids digestion and maintain heart health. People suffering from high blood pressure should follow a low salt diet as increased salt intake pushes blood pressure higher and puts a greater strain on the heart. Magnesium rich food such as potatoes, spinach, and tofu help regulate heart activity. Stay away from foods high in saturated fats such as red meats, cheese, fried foods and butter. Including 2-3 Garlic cloves in the green salad can help to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. People suffering from heart disease should also minimize all food containing high amount of refined sugars because they also raise cholesterol and contribute to weight gain.

Antioxidants

Antioxidant molecules generally reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes and are widely used in dietary supplements to maintain good health. Anti-oxidants are also beneficial in preventing diseases such as cancer and coronary heart diseases. Vitamin E, selenium, carotene and gingko biloba prevent oxidation and are useful deterrents against atherosclerosis. Low levels of potassium or magnesium can cause serious heart disorders. Including bananas in the regular diet can prevent these mineral deficiencies, helping maintain a healthy regular heart beat.

Mental wellbeing

Apart from physical exercise and healthy diet, mental well being is also important for a healthy heart.  Meditation and relaxation techniques can calm the mind and soothe the senses. These techniques work well to overcome stress, which is one of the major factors that cause cardiac arrest.

Healthy lifestyle

Smoking, consumption of alcohol, unhealthy eating habits, obesity, and stress are the primary factors which lead to coronary heart diseases.  Maintaining healthy weight helps control cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, and stress levels. Living a healthy and balanced lifestyle will alone help you to fight this deadly disease. Smoking cessation will benefit you on a long run and reduce the risk for having a heart attack.

Folate

By including vegetables rich in folate such as cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, beet, spinach, sweet potatoes, asparagus, beans or chickpeas helps to fight atherosclerosis by reducing homocysteine levels. It aids blood circulation and prevent blood clot that are responsible for many heart attacks.

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