A heart attack can be devastating, even fatal in the absence of immediate medical attention. Keeping your heart healthy is important if you are looking to enjoy a long and peaceful life. However, in order to maintain a healthy heart, you need to know some common triggers for your cardiac muscles.
A heart attack may be caused due to one of the following three reasons-
Atherosclerosis - Atherosclerosis is the condition where the artery carrying blood to the heart is blocked due to cholesterol deposits on the arterial walls. This impedes normal blood flow and causes a lack of oxygen for the heart muscles, thus leading to a heart attack.
Blood clots- Cholesterol plaques in the artery may rupture, spilling the contents into the bloodstream. This causes a blood clot, which can then obstruct the blood flow. Such a clot can cause a heart attack.
Muscle spasms- Due to muscle spasms in the chest, the artery carrying blood to the heart may become constricted. This minimizes blood flow and causes a heart attack.
Chances of heart attacks increase with certain factors, such as the following-
Age- Age is an important factor when it comes to calculating the chances of suffering from heart attacks. For instance, men above 45 years of age and women above 55 years are more likely to suffer from a heart attack than younger people do.
Tobacco- If you smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke, you face a much greater risk of heart attacks.
High blood cholesterol- Low-density cholesterol or LDL is known as bad cholesterol. LDL narrows the arteries and limits the flow of blood, increasing the likelihood of heart attacks and other cardiac diseases.
Obesity- Obesity is associated with high cholesterol and/or high triglycerides. People with lower body weight are more likely to enjoy a healthier heart.
Family history- Even though heart attacks can be prevented by leading a healthy life, some people are more likely to suffer from a heart attack due to genetic predisposition to the same.
Consult your physician if you are worried about cardiac health. He/she will help you understand what you can do to improve your heart’s condition.
Heart conditions bear the burden of a significant number of deaths every year. Early detection and treatment are the only way to ensure your heart condition will not become fatal for you. A number of conditions can result from a reduction of heart rate,weakening of its strength, and thickening of its walls. But your body gives you several signs to indicate deteriorating heart health. That is why, this World Heart Day, you should pledge to look out for the following symptoms so that you can take the right action at the right time.
Shortness of Breath - Frequent fatigue and shortness of breath even with light activities are the early signs of a failing heart. Sudden feelings of unsteadiness and shortness of breath are symptoms of blood vessels not being able to supply oxygen to the various parts of the body. Such symptoms require medical attention and should not be taken lightly.
Dizziness - Like shortness of breath, dizziness is also among the early symptoms of deteriorating heart health. Although there can be a number of reasons for your dizziness, occasional or severe dizziness that results in fainting spells are strong indicators of your heart needing immediate attention. Sometimes dizziness is also accompanied by tachycardia or rapid heart rate or bradycardia or unusually slow heart rate.
Numbness of limbs - Limbs feeling numb and bloated are also signs of an unhealthy heart. A noticeably bloated limb, especially the legs may be indicative of the heart’s inability to pump blood throughout the body. Even numbness is a sign of poor circulation in your limbs, typically occurring in the fingers and foot. It is advisable to get checked for clogged blood vessels if such conditions are persistent or recurrent.
Discomfort in chest and heartburns - Chest pains, tightness, and strains, especially on the left side can indicate trouble with the muscles of the heart wall. This can shoot to the upper torso and shoulders and appear as a slow and gradually increasing pain. Such pains are usually indicative of a condition called angina that results from interruptions in blood flow to the heart.
Irregular heart rate - Arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat combined with high blood pressure signals blockages in the blood vessels supplying the heart. These make you up to five times more likely to suffer from a stroke or some form of heart ailments unless treated in the early stages.
Armed with the knowledge of these signs, you now know better than procrastinating about your next doctor’s appointment. With regular health screenings, good lifestyle choices, and listening to the signs of your body, you can easily defeat coronary diseases and have a long and healthy life.
Regular health screenings and consultation with a medical professional is vital to ensure a healthy heart. Our heart is affected by several health conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol levels, hypertension, etc. along with hereditary considerations. Age, gender, and ethnicity are also known to play a part in determining the health of your heart.
With so many factors, several beyond your control, it is essential that the heart is monitored regularly with vital health checks. On World Heart Day, we would recommend everyone, despite their age, to consider booking a doctor’s appointment for the sake of a happy and healthy heart.
Here are a few reasons regular health checks are a must for your heart-
Blood Pressure - Blood pressure is among the most important indicators of heart health and aberrations in BP usually remain undetected without regular monitoring. Blood pressure levels higher than the normal 120/80 mm Hg are indicative of coronary disease risk factors. It is advisable to get blood pressure checked at least twice a year after 20 years of age. The frequency can be higher if you are predisposed to coronary diseases. The good news is blood pressure can easily be controlled through simple lifestyle changes and medications.
Blood Glucose Levels - When diabetes goes undetected and untreated for long periods, it can cause strokes and other heart diseases. It is recommended to monitor blood glucose levels every 3 years after 40 years of age if you are not a known diabetic.
Lipid Profile - A lipid profile screening screens for high-density lipoproteins, low-density lipoproteins, and triglycerides. Screening once every 4 to 6 years after 20 years of age can give sufficient indication about the health of the heart. Higher cholesterol levels make you more prone to coronary diseases, but the condition can be easily reversed through good lifestyle choices and medication when detected early on.
Lipid Profile - A lipid profile screening screens for high-density lipoproteins, low-density lipoproteins, and triglycerides. Screening once every 4 to 6 years after 20 years of age can give enough indication about the health of the heart. Higher cholesterol levels make you more prone to coronary diseases, but the condition can be easily reversed through good lifestyle choices and medication when detected early on.
Body Weight - With many individuals leading sedentary lifestyles, overweight and obesity have become commonplace. However, obesity increases the risks of several lifestyle and coronary diseases. It is therefore important to ensure a healthy body weight.
Regular monitoring of heart health is possible even at home, but proper laboratory screening is recommended at least once every two years. These health checks ensure your heart is safeguarded against risk factors and allow early detection of the warning signs. Timely detection and treatment can help you live a long and healthy life. However, it is equally important to adopt healthy lifestyle choices like a proper diet, management of stress, and adequate physical activity, without which you cannot shield your heart against potential risks.
A word about 'cardiac health check-ups'.
Q. Nowadays many hospitals, clinics and path labs have come up with a variety of health check-ups especially cardiac health check-ups. Many corporates doing annual check-ups. So how useful are they, who should get it done and when?
Ans. Doing a variety of unnecessary investigations in healthy individuals without any symptoms is a big no. It should not be done and are totally useless.
Q. 2. What tests do you say are useless as part of cardiac health checkup in apparently healthy individuals.
Ans. Ecg, echo, TMT, stress test, ct angio should not be done at all, do not add any value to your overall health status.
Q3. Why do you say these tests are useless.
Ans. They are useless because many trials around the world over last 20 years have proven beyond doubt, that even if you have underlying blockages in heart, which does not cause any symptoms, then treating them will neither prevent you from a future heart attack nor prolong your life.
It is also possible that today you have ECG, echo normal and still, you develop a heart attack tomorrow. So these tests give a false sense of security which has no value actually.
Also due to this false security, such people with normal reports have a tendency to continue their unhealthy lifestyle
Q4. What are the tests you say are useful?
Ans. Know your blood pressure, blood sugar, lipid profile (cholesterol, LDL, triglyceride and HDL) and body mass index (BMI) as part of your routine health check-up. That's it.
In lipid profile, there is no use of getting unnecessary tests like lp (a), homocysteine, apo (b) and a variety of other scary variables that you commonly see in the report.
Note - in a specific subset of people who have a strong family history of cardiac disease or sudden cardiac death may undergo ECG, echo, TMT as part of routine evaluation
Lastly and most importantly no health check-up can replace a healthy lifestyle and exercise. It is the surest way of avoiding heart ailments.
Usually, cardiac arrest and heart attack are two things which most people use interchangeably, however, there is a big difference between the two.
Difference between cardiac arrest and heart attack:
A cardiac arrest is far deadlier considering that it comes without a warning or any prior indication of a problem. Here, the heart just stops beating and immediate first-aid can make a lot of difference between life and death. Electrical shock is the best way to revive a patient and should be given within a few minutes of such an arrest.
On the other hand, a person suffers a heart attack when there is a blockage in the artery which prevents the smooth flow of oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart. It is important to note that unlike a cardiac arrest the signs of heart attack start slow and persists for long.
A heart attack is one of the common causes of cardiac arrest, but not always it is the case. A cardiac arrest happens most commonly when the heart is receiving more than 300 impulses per minute or due to absent electrical impulses. In the first instance, an electrical shock is a lifesaving technique and in the second, the patient can be treated with certain medications and a temporary pacemaker.
Symptoms of cardiac arrest:
The symptoms of cardiac arrest are immediate and extreme.
Symptoms of a heart attack
Prevention of a cardiac arrest:
What makes this a deadly condition is that you cannot tell your risks of having one and therefore the next best thing to do is to lower your risks.
The best way to do that is to:
How can you prevent a heart attack?
Now that the distinction is clear between the two, it is recommended that everyone should get themselves screened for potential heart problems on a regular basis.
During the natural course of events, a women's body starts its reproductive phase with menarche and at about 50 years of age, attains menopause. This is when the reproductive function ceases and the ovaries stop producing the hormone estrogen and progesterone. In some cases, for various reasons including medical, the ovaries stop functioning earlier, and this is medically termed early or premature menopause. Menopause that occurs before 40 years of age is termed premature menopause; it is due to primary ovarian insufficiency and occurs in 1% of the women. If it occurs between 45 to 50 years, it is termed early menopause.
Effects: Estrogen and progesterone have a lot of beneficial effects on a women's body. Reduction in their levels leads to some of the below changes:
- Emotional changes like mood swings, irritability, and in some cases depression, especially in premature menopause.
- Irregular cycles before complete cessation of the menstrual cycles.
- General mucosal dryness leading to vaginal dryness, dry skin, dry eyes.
- There also would be urinary incontinence and reduced sex drive due to reduced hormone levels.
- For women who still would want to have children, infertility would be a big cause for concern. This could lead to other emotional issues, worsening the depression.
- Osteoporosis - Bones lose their density and get weak and are more prone to fracture.
- Cardiovascular health - Post menopause, women are more prone to heart attacks and stroke. Though not fully proven, this is believed to be true as the good role that estrogen plays on blood vessels is negated with menopause.
- Accelerated ageing - Menopause leads to accelerated damage of genetic structures, thereby leading to faster ageing. This also leaves a feeling in the women of being less attractive and less desirable.
There is also a good news, that after menopause women are at lesser risk of cancer - especially breast and ovarian.
It is not easy for women to handle premature menopause. The body undergoes some changes much earlier than expected, and it requires a lot of support and caring and comforting to come to terms with it - especially if associated with infertility or chemotherapy for cancer. Emotional issues of not being able to have children and feeling less attractive require frank talks to boost the person's confidence and increase self-worthiness.
It is easier said than done, but one of the key ways to handle premature menopause is an open discussion.
If you had suffered a heart attack recently, it is quite natural to for a patient to feel weak as the heart goes through a tremendous amount of stress during the condition. So, it is very important for a heart patient to know the things that will help you them recover from it. A healthy diet is the first step towards recovery. A proper diet can not only help you recover quickly, but you won’t suffer from a second attack too. If people had followed these dietary habits beforehand, then they wouldn’t have to face a heart attack in the first place. So, to recover and get back to your daily lifestyle, you must keep these foods in your daily diet.
What to avoid?
Apart from the items mentioned above, there are several foods that you must avoid at all costs. The first one that comes in this list is the food items that are rich in sugar content. This will lead to an increase in weight and thus aggravate heart problems. You must also avoid salty foods as they will increase your blood pressure. Avoid meats and eggs as much as you can as they are highly rich in cholesterol which is another factor that must be avoided.
Follow a diet chart that incorporates the do’s and don’ts to have a speedy recovery and get back to the normal routine.
A Study conducted shows that around 65% of diabetic patients die from heart disease or stroke. The connection between diabetes and heart disease starts with high blood sugar levels. With continued high blood sugar levels i.e. high glucose in the bloodstream, the arteries gets damaged and become hard and stiff. Fatty material that builds up on the inside of these blood vessels can eventually block blood flow to the heart or brain, leading to a possible heart attack or stroke.
People with the below listed condition and lifestyle are at increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease (CVD)
What is Diabetes?
It's is a disorder in which your body doesn’t produce insulin in the required quantity because of too much sugar in the blood or high blood glucose.
Frequent urination, Intense thirst and hunger, Weight gain, unusual weight loss, fatigue, cuts and bruises that do not heal, male sexual dysfunction, vaginal Infection in females, numbness, tingling in hands and feet.
Connection with Heart-related diseases i.e. What can diabetes do to the person's healthy heart?
Prevention: More of a lifestyle change followed by medication under supervision of a doctor and a nutritionist is possible. The best way to prevent the development of cardiovascular disease is to prevent diabetes itself. General nutrition recommendations:
There is no certain way to avoid heart disease and circulation problems, but there are a lot of things to do to cut your risk.
As the nomenclature appears to indicate, Arrhythmia is a condition where the heartbeat of the affected person does not conform to the rhythm it is designed for. But there are cases of Arrhythmia where the normal heartbeat is available as well. The underlying causes of the condition can be many, including a disorder in the coronary artery and the person having suffered a heart attack or undergone heart surgery. The irregular heartbeat is medically referred to as fibrillation.
The fact is Arrhythmia manifests itself in different types. They are as below:
Complications Arising from Arrhythmia-
As described the disease Arrhythmia basically relates to an irregular heartbeat. And, this automatically results in reduced pumping of blood into the system. This process can lead to situations where sufficient blood does not reach the brain and that can lead to the person suffering a stroke. Depending on the individual cases strokes can sometimes lead to death as well.
The other two types, bradycardia and tachycardia described above, meaning slow or rapid pumping of the heart, can lead to a failure of the heart unless timely treatment is administered. There is also a school of thought, which seems to suggest there is a link between the fibrillation type Arrhythmia and the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR is an activity that should be learnt by everybody. It’s a skill that comes handy at the time of the crisis. Owing to the fact that 90 percent of the overall cardiac related conditions occur outside the hospital, learning CPR becomes essential. A person with the knowledge of CPR can save the life of a patient in those crucial seconds when life hangs in the balance. Here is a brief know how about CPR and the way it is done:
Before CPR is started:
It is necessary to tap the patient on the shoulder and ask if he is fine. If the answer is not in the affirmative, seeking medical help is the best possible alternative. If medical help such as ambulance is out of reach, starting the CPR is the best possible way to go.
CPR for children above 9 years:
The patient should be laid on their back and the person intending to give the CPR should kneel next to the shoulder and neck of the patient. The heel of one hand should be placed to the center of the chest of the patient. The heel of the other hand should be placed over the lace and first fingers together. The elbow of the person intending to give the CPR should be kept straight and the shoulder should be aligned directly over the hands. Thus, begins the process of compression as hard as possible. The aim should be to compress at least 100 times within a single minute. The chest should be given the chance to arise fully in between each compression. One small hat tip in this regard is to give the CPR in the disco mode. One beat at a time.
CPR for infants and children below 9 years:
Before starting the CPR, the head should be tilted backward and the chin should be lifted upward to open the passage for the airway. In case the breathing is absent, either of the below-mentioned rescue breaths should be applied:
This should be followed by blowing in the mouth till the chest has a visible rise. There should at least be 30 chest compressions given to the patient within a minute. While For a child the chest should be pushed with one or two hands, for an infant, the chest should be pushed with no more than three fingers. The above steps should be repeated three to four times.