Heart diseases are an increasingly common condition that affects about 800,000 Americans every year and is the cause of death of 600,000 Americans each year. That means one person dies of a heart attack every 40 seconds in the United States. So, what are these conditions? and why is it an increasing cause of concern in present times?
1. To start with: what is a heart attack?
In simple words, it is a blockage of blood flow to the heart caused due to clotting of blood. This blockage is due to the formation of plaques caused by the build-up of certain substances like fat and cholesterol in the arteries, mainly the coronary artery, which supplies oxygen-rich blood to the heart.
These plaques sometimes rupture, causing blood clots, interrupting the blood flow, and damaging a part of the heart muscles; the condition is also called a myocardial infarction.
2. What happens to a person undergoing a heart attack?
Symptoms may vary from person to person, but the most common symptoms include discomfort in the chest region, choking feeling, burning sensation, sweating, etc. Sometimes in cases of people with diabetes, the signs of the attack are not noticed, a condition called a “silent myocardial infarction.” Other common symptoms include shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, sweating, etc.
3. Who is at risk of getting a heart attack?
a) Men above 45 years and women above 50 are more likely to get a heart attack than younger age groups.
b) People with high blood pressure; high blood pressure can damage arteries, causing blood clots, eventually leading to disruption of blood flow to the heart.
c) People with obesity, at times arteries are damaged due to deposition of an excessive amount of fatty materials in them, leading to damage of the arteries.
d) High blood cholesterol, accumulation of high amounts of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins ) can limit blood flow. Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood that is necessary to build healthy cells. Still, high blood cholesterol levels can result in deposits of fatty materials in the blood vessels, limiting blood flow.
e) Tobacco smoking and use of stimulant drugs
f) Stress and lack of physical activity can increase the risk of heart diseases; hence, taking care of physical and mental health is necessary.
4. What to do if a person or yourself is undergoing a heart attack episode?
a) Call 911 or drive to the nearest hospital: that’s the first thing you should do if you encounter a person having a heart attack, every second count in case of a heart attack. If you have a heart attack, try reaching out to your neighbors or any person nearby for help.
b) In the meantime, while paramedics arrive, try keeping calm, or the person calm, make them sit or lie down.
c) Chewing on aspirin might ease the pain, but somebody should not take it if they are allergic to it; if taken, Do inform the paramedics about the same when they arrive.
d) Begin CPR ( cardiopulmonary resuscitation) if the person is unconscious, every person should learn CPR techniques for emergency case.
Till now, we went through topics like what is a heart attack, what causes it, and what to do in case you or some person is having a heart attack. Still, as they say, prevention is always better than cure, so let’s discuss how we can prevent ourselves from having a heart attack. Is it possible?
Prevention: being the leading cause of deaths in the united states, we must increase awareness of heart diseases amongst the population about how to prevent them from happening in the first place, though there are some things we can’t control regarding heart diseases such as the family history of heart attack or some autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, there are essential things that we can control, and learning about them can lower the risk of heart disease.
1) First and most importantly, a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise can improve heart health; morning walks, jogging, yoga can help lower the risk of heart diseases.
2) Heart-healthy diet; there are some things you need to limit in your diet to avoid heart diseases. These include saturated fats, sugars, etc.; avoiding red meat can prove helpful. Instead, one can rather opt for Chicken, fish, etc. Include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet; pulses, whole grains, root tubers are some healthy foodstuff you can include in your diet.
3) Blood pressure check; adults in the age group above 40 must do their blood pressure check at least once a year and make lifestyle changes to control high Blood pressure.
4) Limit alcohol and smoking; too much alcohol can increase blood pressure putting you at a higher risk; it may also cause you to gain weight. Cigarette smoking also leads to an increase in blood pressure. Hence it is advisable to quit smoking if you suffer from heart ailments.
5) Stress management; stress is linked to heart ailments in several ways; it can raise blood pressure. Managing stress is essential; practicing yoga, listening to calm music, and meditation are some of the ways you can help cope up with stress.
6) Adequate sleep; inadequate sleep may result in blood pressure rise, obesity, stress, etc. it is advisable to get a good 8 hours sleep.
7) Diabetes check; diabetes almost doubles the risk of heart disease, the high sugar level in your blood can damage blood vessels and result in clotting; hence it is vital to keep your blood sugar level under control.
8) Manage cholesterol and triglycerides level; high levels of both can increase fat in the blood and raise the risk of coronary artery disease; hence it is advisable to keep the same in check.
If we can manage to bring these changes in our lifestyle, our diet avoids terrible habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol, exercise regularly, avoid getting overweight, work on stress management, keeping blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, etc. in check and most importantly increase awareness about heart disease taking care of your loved once, we can overcome this enormous problem in front of us.