Heart Attack: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

The heart is the engine room of a human being and with each heartbeat, blood is pumped to all parts of the body. The heart weighs approximately 300 grams and is the size of an average human fist.

The arteries also called blood vessels convey blood rich in oxygen from the heart to the body while the veins carry blood back into the heart and lungs for oxygen fortification. The cycle goes on endlessly every second, day, and year.

The importance of the heart cannot be over-emphasized thus requires adequate maintenance and care. But just like the engine of a car, without proper maintenance accidents and engine failure is most likely to occur.

This article will focus on the causes and cure of heart attack as this disease is one of the leading killer diseases prevalent in our world today.

What is a Heart Attack?

A heart attack is the blockage of blood through one or more coronary arteries due to fatty streaks buildups (atherosclerosis). The presence of these fatty substances contracts the inside of the arteries, making the flow of blood difficult. This is also referred to as hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis. If this buildup is not cleared it gets to a point the coronary arteries become blocked preventing the flow of blood to the heart. When this happens a heart attack occurs and prevents oxygen from getting to a certain part of the heart.

Permanent heart damage occurs if the blocked artery is left to die off due to the absence of blood. This damage is further exacerbated by the time lag between injury and treatment; efforts must be made to open the artery in case of blockage to lessen the effect of a heart attack.

Failure to quickly address coronary heart disease can result to

  1. Chest pain (Angina)
  2. Heart Attack (myocardial infraction)
  3. Sudden stopping of the heart (cardiac arrest)

Our focus will be limited to heart attack being the most common. Note however that Angina can develop into a heart attack if not treated speedily when first noticed.

Warning signs of Heart Attack

The contraction of arteries develops gradually without any noticeable symptoms until substantial harm has been done to the heart. The harm in most cases is the reduction in blood flow to the heart muscle. Some heart attacks are very intense and could lead to instant death while some come slowly. Therefore it’s important to identify certain discomforts you might experience before it gets to a critical level.

Signs to look out for include;

  1. Chest discomfort and comes with shortness of breath.
  2. Pressure and intense pain at the center of your chest.
  3. Pain around the back, arms, upper body, and neck.
  4. Constant lightheadedness, nausea, and sweating.

Measures to reduce the risk of a heart attack

  1. Maintain a healthy weight.
  2. Get a cumulative 150 minutes of exercise weekly.
  3. Avoid smoking and keep away from smoke-congested spaces.
  4. Maintain a healthy diet and consume low-saturated fatty foods.
  5. Make sure to control your blood sugar if you have diabetes.

Risk factors for heart attack

The possibility of having a heart attack is heightened when a certain unfavorable lifestyle is sustained. Risk factors for heart conditions make developing heart attacks more likely. Conditions and lifestyles that increase the possibility of heart attack are categorized into medical conditions and lifestyle.

Medical Conditions 

High blood pressure:

High blood pressure also called hypertension occurs when the heart muscles are subjected to over-work. Blood pressure measures the pressure of blood on the walls of the arteries. This can weaken the artery walls which increases the risk of heart diseases. This however is relative to age which means older people are prone to heart attacks than younger people.

Diabetes:

When the body lacks enough insulin the body relapses and degenerates into a condition known as Diabetes. Insulin is a hormone that breaks down sugar in the blood into energy. High blood sugar develops when the body lacks enough insulin to perform this operation effectively.

This high blood sugar consistently narrows the arteries hence increasing the risk of high blood pressure and then a heart attack or stroke.

Lifestyle

Smoking and alcohol intake:

Smoking is a major risk factor as far as heart attacks are concerned around the world. Smokers as well as second-hand smokes are more susceptible to heart diseases because it forces the heart to work harder and also decreases oxygen levels in the blood.

Excessive alcohol intake increases the risk of a heart attack due to weight gain and also prevents medications from working as supposed.

Unhealthy Eating:

To significantly reduce your chances of developing heart attacking eating a healthy, balanced diet is recommended. It helps manage your weight, improves your cholesterol level, and reduces blood pressure.

Being Over-weight:

Being overweight is a common risk factor for heart diseases. To reduce the possibility of developing heart attack a healthy weight should be maintained. This helps you to manage and control high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes.

Inadequate Exercise:

The chances of a heart attack occurring increase when the body does not get enough exercise. This causes diabetes and heart attack.

Others

Other risk factors include;

Family history: If a family member has been diagnosed with this ailment in the past it likely runs in the family.

Age and sex: Women have a lesser risk of having a heart attack especially before they get to the age of menopause. Generally, men of any age can develop the disease however those over 55 have a higher risk of having a heart attack.

Ethnic inheritance: Africans and South Asians have a higher risk of coronary artery disease. They have a high propensity to develop high blood pressure and diabetes even at a younger age.

How to lower your risk of a heart attack

  1. Control your diabetes level: A diabetic person is at a high risk of a heart attack. Thus if you have diabetes take measures to control it by eating healthy and maintain an appropriate weight.
  2. Control your blood pressure: Knowing your blood pressure is one good way to control its negative impact on your body. After determining your blood pressure, maintain a healthy diet and take less salt. Exercise regularly.
  3. Avoid smoking, second-hand smoking, and keep away from choking environments.
  4. Control your cholesterol and triglycerides levels. Eat heart-healthy diets that are low in saturated and trans fats.
  5. Go for regular exercises at least 150 minutes every week.
  6. Always follow the advice of your medical consultant and ensure you take your prescribed drugs.

Treatment:

It is essential to follow the recommendations suggested by your doctor. However, it depends more on you for total healing to take place. You can augment with healthy supplement drugs and maintain a healthy lifestyle to hasten the healing of the heart

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