Because of the run of the mill Hollywood show, we frequently envision a cardiovascular failure as a circumstance where an individual out of nowhere falls down to the floor, grasping their chest firmly with an extreme look that lets you know they are experiencing squirming torment.
Indeed, this sensational circumstance isn’t generally the situation. Cardiovascular failures are ‘no-show quiet executioners’ that would gently declare their appearance and leave without a sign. However, yet, this doesn’t imply that they aren’t deadly. They qualify as a main source of death across the globe. As indicated by reports, in excess of 2,200 Americans yearly lose their lives to cardiovascular sickness, which can cause coronary failures and strokes.
What exactly is a heart attack, and what happens when you suffer from one? Are there any triggers? And how can you prevent it? Today’s video will cover all this and more. So, let’s learn more about this silent killer.
What is a heart attack?
A heart attack is nothing but an indication that something is going wrong with your heart’s basic functioning. The heart’s oxygen supply becomes blocked due to an accumulation of fats and cholesterol in blood vessels. Medical literature calls a heart attack a myocardial infarction known for its life-threatening consequences. Heart attacks are a life-threatening situation. Reports suggest that approximately 82 million people in the United States suffer from cardiovascular diseases, a leading cause of death in both men and women. Heart attacks start with mild discomfort or the development of a slight ache covering your chest, one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. Cold sweats, heartburn, lightheadedness, nausea, and shortness of breath may also mark its arrival. These symptoms are common to men and women but can sometimes vary. While men usually complain of chest pain, women, on the other hand, are more likely to experience this pain along with shortness of breath, nausea, and back or jaw pain. Studies show that chest pain is a symptom reported by 92% of women and 91% of men living with heart issues.
What are the risk factors involved? Family history: You are most likely to develop a heart problem if your mother, father, or grandparent has a heart condition. Age: With growing age comes complications, and as you age, you are pushed an inch forward towards a heart attack if you are leading an unhealthy lifestyle. Already existing Health conditions: Diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and hypertension are conditions that can increase the chances of a heart attack. Studies suggest that 75% of individuals with diabetes die from some form of a heart-related issue. Gender: Women tend to have a lower rate of heart attacks than men. According to a study, roughly 3% of men and 2.5% of women aged 18 and above have a history of stroke. Also, more men than women develop hypertension before age 45, and women are likely to develop it at a much later stage in life.
What happens during a heart attack?
Like every other muscle in our body, our heart muscles rely on oxygen for survival. And oxygen dissolves in our blood to facilitate a steady supply throughout the body. When it comes to heart attacks, this oxygen supply is cut off in the middle, and our heart muscles cannot get enough supply for their smooth functioning. Mounting pressure only makes them weak and damaged. Damaged heart muscles lead to heart attacks, and since the heart is unable to work with damaged muscles, it grows feeble, gives up, and stops working, leading to death. Now, what is the reason behind this blocked oxygen supply? All the credit goes to underlying coronary artery disease.
Coronary artery disease.
Well, here is the thing. Oxygen cannot reach the heart muscles because of blockages in the coronary arteries. Coronary arteries are responsible for supplying oxygenated blood to heart muscles. Due to unhealthy eating habits and other factors, fats and cholesterol accumulate in these arteries. These intruding deposits are also called plaques. In some cases, this plaque tends to rupture, forming blood clots that restrict the blood flow. Over time these build-ups grow heavy, and the coronary arteries narrow and stiffen. As the coronary arteries narrow, it becomes almost impossible for the oxygenated blood to reach the heart muscles. This causes mild pain and discomfort, referred to as ‘angina.’ And yes! This undoubtedly worsens the situation, and the person has to put up a challenging fight to catch their breath. This is what we call coronary artery disease.
So let us dive deeper into this topic and understand what causes coronary artery disease. In our young, dynamic and agile phases of life, we are bestowed with smooth, healthy coronary arteries but the moment we decide to give unhealthy virtues a chance, everything turns upside down. You might not notice it then, but it certainly shows up in stages over time. Smoking, lack of exercise, and munching on sugars and saturated fats endlessly do no good but add up to accumulations of fats and cholesterol, heightened sugar levels, raised blood pressure, and other toxic issues. So as you get irresponsible with your health, your coronary arteries fight harder to have your back. The inner lining of your coronary arteries are constantly under attack from all the factors mentioned earlier. This is why they grow narrow and stiffen over time. Eventually, this culminates in coronary heart disease, sometimes referred to as ‘atherosclerosis’. So adopting unhealthy lifestyle patterns and not taking care of yourself just adds to your list of problems. Your body suffers every day to maintain a healthy balance to function properly. While we have some control over our risk factors, factors like age, family history, gender, and ethnicity might also be responsible for a stroke. Have you ever noticed that most heart attack survivors in your vicinity never complained of any serious symptom that would have suggested an artery blockage? Quite surprising! Isn’t it? Strangely, coronary artery disease comes with no symptoms. How is that possible? When an artery narrows down and restricts the blood flow, other blood vessels in the vicinity that also serve the heart come to the rescue and compensate by expanding themselves. This is what we call collateral circulation. And this is what usually keeps heart attacks at bay. The situation goes out of hand when collateral circulation cannot fulfill your body’s need for oxygen through its back-end support. When the emergency mechanism of our body cannot hold on any longer, it starts showing signs through a heart attack or stroke.
What are other factors responsible for a heart attack?
At times, there are chances that the coronary artery went into a spasm. A spasm forces the artery to narrow to alarming levels, and blood flow to the heart muscles either decreases or stops altogether. The reason behind the occurrence of spasms is usually unclear. While there are pretty good chances that it happened because of a blockage, there are possibilities that it can happen in normal-appearing blood vessels as well. Another rare cause that leaves us without any particular explanation is artery rupture. Spontaneous coronary artery wall tear can also lead to a heart attack. But these causes have chance possibilities only and are pretty rare to occur.
Now, can a heart attack leave heart muscles damaged?
A heart attack may leave your heart muscles with severe injuries. But it doesn’t mean that all of it gets damaged. Thankfully, the heart muscles that are directly affected by the loss of oxygen supply are only the ones that get hurt. Our heart is a tough fighter. Even with damages, it keeps working in full swing and hardly quits. And just like the ‘never giving up attitude’ of our heart, our body also refuses to give up that easily. The savior mechanism of our body is at constant work after a heart attack. The formation of scar tissues heals the damaged heart muscles. But scar tissue does not contract as well as an original heart muscle. So, it takes several days or perhaps weeks in severe cases to heal the heart completely. Nevertheless, the body ensures that we return to our usual routine. Healing varies from person to person and depends majorly on an individual’s lifestyle choices. So do not just sit back and leave it all to your body; correct your unhealthy habits and switch to healthy ones immediately. Wondering how to do that? Don’t worry; we’ve got your back. Let us now hop on to our next segment:
Lifestyle changes to prevent heart attacks
Healthy diet: If lots of sodium, sugar, and fats comprise most of your food intake, then my friend, you’re certainly doing no good for your body. Avoid foods drenched in oils, and try replacing your current diet with healthy alternatives. Opt for green leafy vegetables, fruits, whole grain bread, and yogurt. Regular exercise: If you’re somebody who hardly gets up and is always tucked on their couch, then it’s time for you to reshuffle your lazy habits. Lack of exercise turns your body into a magnet that attracts many health issues. Studies show that the risk of cardiovascular diseases is increased by 20% in overweight men and women. So get up! Don your activewear and get yourselves moving. Another lifestyle habit that you need to drop immediately is smoking: Being an active smoker affects your lungs and can have severe implications for your heart. Toxins from smoking cigarettes or vaping can get deposited in your blood vessels and disturb a smooth blood flow. Smokers are 2-4 times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than their non-smoker counterparts. So the next time you light up a cigarette, remember what is at stake. Consumption of alcohol, chewing tobacco, and drug abuse are some other factors that can be held responsible for inducing a heart attack. Lifestyle changes are all about being cautious and preventive.
Medical treatments: Depending on the severity of your problem
The doctor may suggest operative procedures that would prevent successive heart attacks. Angioplasty, heart valve surgery, heart bypass surgery, pacemaker, stent, or in extreme cases, a heart transplant might be some of your options.
What about a recurring heart attack? Do they happen?
Well, once a heart attack strikes you, there are high chances of having one in the future too. Each year around 600,000 individuals in the United States experience their first stroke, and another 185,000 experience a recurring stroke. Heart attack symptoms vary from time to time in individuals. So if the first one marked its arrival with an achy chest, then who knows, the second could be a package with cold sweats, heartburn, shortness of breath, and pain in arms as complimentary. And if you think that you’re having one at the moment, then all you need to do is sit down! Calm yourself, take deep breaths, and tell somebody to call for an ambulance. In most cases, there are good chances of survival, and eventually, people return to their usual selves.