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Defining a Heart attack

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A heart attack is the death of a segment of heart muscle caused by the loss of blood supply. The blood supply is usually lost because a coro-nary artery, one that supplies blood to the heart muscle, is blocked by a blood clot a medical condition referred to as coronary thrombosis.

Heart attacks most often occur as a result of coronary heart disease (CHD), also called coro-nary artery disease a condition in which coronary arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood flow can slowly be-come narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances that form a waxy substance called plaque. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart. When plaque builds up in the arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis. The buildup of plaque occurs over many years.

Eventually, the area with buildup of plaque can rupture inside of an artery. This causes a blood clot to form on the plaque’s surface. If the clot be-comes large enough, it can mostly or completely block blood flow through a coronary artery.

If the blockage isn’t treated quickly, the portion of heart muscle fed by the artery begins to die. Healthy heart tissue is replaced with scar tissue. When damage or death of part of the heart muscle occurs as a result of scar tissue, it is called a heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI).

A less common cause of heart attack is a severe spasm or tightening of a coronary artery. The spasm cuts off blood flow through the artery. Spasms can occur in coronary arteries that do not have a buildup of plaque.

Heart attacks can be associated with or lead to severe health problems, such as heart failure and life-threatening arrhythmias. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs while arrhythmias is a problem with the rate or rhythm of your heartbeat. It means that your heart beats too quickly, too slowly, or with

Understanding the heart attack risk factors

Knowledge is power, so getting a handle on the risks you face right away is important. Extensive research has identified factors that increase a per-son’s risk of coronary heart disease in general and heart attack in particular.

The risk factors can be categorized as major, modifiable or contributing risk factors. Major risk factors which are unchangeable factors that significantly increase the risk of heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease. Modifiable risk factors are considered ma-or risk factors can be modified, treat-ed or controlled through medications or lifestyle change. Contributing risk factors are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but their significance and prevalence haven’t yet been determined.

Increasing age , gender (male sex) and heredity are considered the major risk factors that you cannot change or control. As one ages the risk of getting a heart attack increase as research shows that the mortality rate due to coronary disease is higher in individu-als above 60 years. In regards to gen-der the risk of heart attack is known to be higher in males than females. The heredity factor is derived from the fact that one is more likely to develop heart disease if a parent or family member has hard a heart related aliment.

Risk factors like tobacco smoking, high blood cholesterol, high blood pres-sure, physical inactivity , obesity & overweight, diabetes mellitus are ma-jor risk factors which we can have control over. These are mainly an out-come of our life style choices, for in-stance one can decide not to smoke to quit to reduce the risk to heart attack as its been verified that smoking is a powerful independent risk factor for sudden cardiac arrest. As blood cholesterol rises, so does risk of coronary heart disease. When other risk factors such as high blood pressure and tobacco smoke are present, this risk in-creases even more. A person’s cholesterol level is also affected by age, sex, heredity and diet

High blood pressure increases the heart’s workload, causing the heart muscle to thicken and become stiffer. This stiffening of the heart muscle is not normal, and causes the heart not to work properly. Thus increasing the risk of heart attack. Diabetes seriously increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Even when glucose levels are under control, diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, but the risks are even greater if blood sugar is not well controlled. If you have diabetes and high blood pressure, it’s extremely important to work with your healthcare provider to manage it and control any other risk factors you can. Persons with these aliments who are obese or overweight should make lifestyle changes for in-stance eat better, get regular physical activity, lose weight to help man-age blood sugar and blood pressure.

An inactive lifestyle is a risk factor for coronary heart disease. Regular, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity helps reduce the risk of heart and blood vessel disease. Even moderate-intensity activities help if done regular-ly and long term. Physical activity can help control blood cholesterol, diabetes and obesity, as well as help lower blood pressure in some people.

People who have excess body fat especially if a lot of it is at the waist are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke even if they have no other risk factors. Overweight and obese adults with risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high blood sugar can make lifestyle changes to lose weight and produce clinically meaningful reductions. Many people may have difficulty losing weight. But a sustained weight loss of 3 to 5% body weight may lead to clinically meaningful reductions in some risk factors, larger weight losses can bene-fit blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose.

Stress, alcohol abuse, Poor diet and nutrition are the other factors that con-tribute to heart disease risk. Individual response to stress may be a contributing factor for instance people under stress may overeat, start smoking or smoke more than they otherwise would.

A healthy diet is one of the best weapons you have to fight cardiovascular diseases. The food you eat (and the amount) can affect other controllable risk factors: cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and overweight. Choose nutrient-rich foods which have vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients but are lower in calories over nutrient-poor foods. Choose a diet that emphasizes intake of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; includes low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, leg-umes, no tropical vegetable oils, and nuts; and limits intake of sweets, sug-ar, sweetened beverages, and red meats.

And to maintain a healthy weight, co-ordinate your diet with your physical activity level so you’re using up as many calories as you take in.

Heart Attack – The Recovery Process

Surviving a heart attack can be equated to overcoming a sudden death experience. This experience shall certainly impact you as a indi-vidual as well as your loved ones and close associates. A heart attack can leave you with strong feelings about what has happened to you. Denial, anger, fear, anxiety, and de-pression are common emotions among people who have had heart attacks. These are normal reactions, and you can openly discuss about these feelings with your doctor. Your family, friends, and coworkers shall certainly be affected by your heart attack as well. They will have con-cerns about your future and ques-tions about your condition. Lifestyle changes, and even something as sim-ple as a new diet, may cause stress within your family.

A positive attitude towards recovery and treatment can help a lot as you struggle to deal with your feelings. Your physical recovery is not the only recovery that can begin in the hospi-tal. Emotional and mental recovery can begin there as well. When you are ready, your doctor can talk to you about what has happened, why it has happened, and what your treatment options are. Understanding and accepting your condition are the first steps toward a good mental out-look. Supportive friends and family are also very important. The negative feelings you have after a heart attack will pass as you recover and slowly return to your normal activities.

Since recovering from a heart attack can take several months its important not rush your rehabilitation. The most important aims of the recovery pro-cess are to gradually restore your physical fitness so you can resume normal activities and to reduce your risk of another heart attack. Before being discharged from hospital your doctor should be able to provide you with details on your state of health ,how the heart attack may have affected it, the type of treatment you received, what medications you’ll need when you leave hospital, what specific risk factors are thought to have contributed to your heart at-tack and what lifestyle changes you can make to address those risk fac-tors.

Once you return home, it’s usually recommended that you rest and only do light activities, such as walking up and down the stairs a few times a day or taking a short walk. Aerobic exercises designed to strengthen the heart are usually recommended by your care provider. Examples of aer-obic exercises include riding an exer-cise bike, jogging on a treadmill and swimming. The amount of activity should be increased gradually over several weeks depending on the con-dition of your heart and your general health.

Most people can return to work after having a heart attack, but how quick-ly will depend on your health, the state of your heart and the kind of work you do. If your job involves light duties may be able to return to work in as little as two weeks .However, if your job involves heavy manual work or your heart was extensively damaged, it may be several months before you can return to work.

After surviving a heart attack not all is doom and gloom, you can still be able to enjoys life’s pleasures. One can start having sex once they feel well enough usually within four to six weeks. The amount of energy it requires to perform intercourse with a spouse or regular partner is similar to climbing about one or two flights of stairs or walking about one-half mile (0.8 km) at a brisk pace. If you cannot perform these activities with-out getting angina, short of breath, or becoming over-tired, please dis-cuss this with your doctor before re-suming sexual activity. Keep in mind that a sexual relationship has both physical and emotional aspects thus talk openly with your partner and have sex when you are rested and physically comfortable. Anxiety on the part of either partner, as well as some medications, may interfere with sexual arousal and performance. So discuss any difficulties with your doc-tor.

Eating a heart healthy diet is very important to prevent future complica-tions of heart disease. Six strategies to reduce coronary artery disease include eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, Choose fat calories wisely, eat a va-riety, and just the right amount of protein foods, limit dietary cholester-ol, use complex carbohydrates for energy, and limit the intake of simple carbohydrates, Place less emphasis on sodium and increase your intake of potassium, magnesium and calci-um.

Reducing your risk of having another heart attack involves making lifestyle changes and taking a long-term course of different medications. If you smoke, it’s strongly recommend-ed that you quit as soon as possible. If you drink alcohol, don’t exceed the recommended limits and avoid binge drinking. Full recovery can be attain with a positive mindset and commitment to be disciplined in maintaining the healthy life style choices one has to make in order to prevent the reoccurrence of a heart attack.

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