Heart attack, technically termed “Myocardial Infarction”, is the result of total blockage of the coronary artery that supplies blood to the heart. The blockage happens due to the formation of plaques composed of cholesterol, blood cells, fibrin and calcium. A lifestyle laden with depression and a cocktail of smoking and liquor can lead to heart attack. Non-modifiable risk factors like increasing age, gender and heredity, and modifiable risk factors like smoking, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes mellitus, stress and alcohol can also lead to heart disease.
Too many sweets, heavy food and drink, and a sedentary lifestyle cause obesity, which has become a common problem globally. There are one billion people suffering from obesity worldwide. It affects men and women of all ages and races. Clinically, a healthy person’s BMI (body mass index) should be between 18.5 to 24.5. A person having BMI higher than this, or men with waist measuring more than 40 inches and women more than 35 inches are considered overweight. Waist circumference measurement is an effective tool in weight management. BMI generally increases with age.
Obesity is the most prevalent cardiovascular risk factor in a patient with hypertension and diabetes. Up to 50 percent of the variance in weight can be attributed to genetic factors. Obesity is considered a pelagic condition with strong environmental interaction. It occurs when calorie intake exceeds caloric expenditure for a long period of time. A positive caloric balance of 200 kilo calories a day can result in a 4.5–6.8 kg of weight gain per year. Obesity is believed to cause coronary artery disease through intermediate cardio-vascular risk factors.
To prevent heart attacks, celebrate with heart-healthy food and drink on special occasions, gatherings, and especially on good Fridays. Say no to artificial sweeteners, carbonated and alcoholic drinks, and unhealthy food. One recommended measure to reduce heart disease is to take a DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). It improves overall heart-health and effectively lowers the risk of heart disease. To decrease cardio vascular risk factors:
-Avoid consuming foods high in sugar, fat and cholesterol, as they increase blood pressure and elevate the risk of developing heart diseases.
- Decrease the intake of foods such as red meat, full-fat dairy products, palm oil, fried foods, packaged foods, margarine, and processed or baked goods that contain these types of fats.
- Take fruits or dry fruits instead of traditional ghee loaded sweets.
- You should exchange your drink for red wine, which is a good source of catechins and resveratrol which aid “good” cholesterol. Their cardio protective effect has been attributed to antioxidants present in the skin and seeds of red grapes. Hence, they decrease the risk of heart disease by reducing the production of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (also known as the “bad” cholesterol), by boosting high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and by reducing blood clotting. So, consuming a glass of wine with a meal may favorably influence your lipid profiles following that meal.
To prevent heart attacks, celebrate with heart-healthy food and drinks on special occasions, gatherings, and especially on good Fridays.
If you have had a heart attack, you are at risk of another. The good news is that you can prevent blockage in your coronary arteries, and thus decrease the risk of another heart attack. After a treatment of heart attack by coronary angioplasty of coronary artery bypass grafting, certain drugs can reduce your chances of more heart trouble. So, take the regular medicine prescribed by your doctor like Aspirin, Beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, Anticoagulants, Statins, but also remember to control your emotions and blood sugar.
Exercise (walking 1-2 kms every day) can be helpful in preventing heart disease and probable heart attacks. Further, a little bit of Yoga (Pranayam) with meditation will be an extra protection shield for those at risk from heart disease. Combined with drug therapy, yoga and meditation have the ability to heal or even reverse coronary artery diseases to some extent. If you think you will have problems following through on any of the above, ask your doctor if you are eligible for a cardiac rehabilitation program.
Symptoms of heart attack typically last 30 minutes or longer, and are not relieved by rest or oral medications.The heart attack may manifest with a sudden onset of severe central chest pain described as heavy, compressing pain, which can radiate to the left hand, jaw, or to the back. It is often associated with profuse sweating, dizziness, indigestion, heartburn, choking, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, shortness of breath, rapid or irregular heartbeat, and weakness. The onset can be so abrupt that the patient, after suddenly showing symptoms like profuse sweating and cold peripheries, may collapse and become unresponsive.
Some people with diabetes have a heart attack without any of these symptoms, called “silent” heart attack. If you think you are having a heart attack, DO NOT DELAY. Call for emergency help. Immediate treatment of a heart attack is very important. You can also chew 300 mg of Aspirin if you are not allergic to it. Prompt administration of drugs can help restore circulation to the heart and increase your chances of survival.
The author is a Cardiologist at Norvic International Hospital