What is a heart attack?
Heart attack is a severe pathological state characterized by the acute deficit of the blood supply of the cardiac muscle. An acute disorder of the blood supply of the cardiac muscle leads to a fast formation of the necrotic tissue. Necrosis of the cardiac muscle is called as myocardium infarction, and it is one of the main causes of death of the cardiovascular diseases.
Some statistics about the heart attack:
- About 750 000 people suffer from the heart attack every year in the USA.
- Every fourth of them dies of an acute coronary syndrome within an hour from the moment of the infarction occurrence.
- About 10% of patients do not even suspect the heart attack and confuse the symptoms with other diseases.
- About 20% of patients experience the repeated heart attack within 1-2 years after the first one.
More than 17 million people die of the heart attack every year in the world. The infarction happens as a result of the complications of the ischemic heart disease, atherosclerosis, and other pathologies.
According to the official statistics of WHO, the heart attack is not a disease of old people anymore. More and more patients at the age of 25-35 (mostly men) are diagnosed the infarction.
Many factors explain it:
- High pace of life, and so a load on the heart;
- Stresses, fatigue, severe work conditions;
- Low physical activity of the youth;
- Early cardiovascular diseases including habitual;
- Abuse of alcohol, cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Heart attack symptoms
According to the data of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 30% of the Americans know about the symptoms of the heart attack and will be able to seek for a qualified medical aid in time. Approximately the same statistics is observed in the countries of the European Union and Russia. This rate is lower in Asia and Eastern countries and is less than 20%.
Knowing the symptoms of the heart attack may save your or your relatives life because every minute is important during the heart attack. During the spread of the necrotic tissue, a human dies within an hour.
Heart attack symptoms:
- Acute pain in the chest that may be felt in other parts of the body (but the pain begins in the chest);
- Burning in the area of the heart or chest (it usually lasts within several minutes and is replaced by the pain);
- Sudden numbness of hands, face, legs;
- Difficult breathing, lack of oxygen;
- Severe dizziness;
- Lightheadedness in the setting of the above-mentioned symptoms.
Admittedly, pain in the chest is less intensive in women, and therefore women seldom pay attention to the primary symptoms.
Heart attack causes
The essential cause of the heart attack is a disorder of the blood circulation in the cardiac muscle. When the blood supply is reduced or blocked in the myocardium, the nutrition of the cardiac muscle with oxygen is affected. Due to this, a fast formation of necrosis of the tissue happens, and a heart attack occurs.
The blood circulation disorder in the cardiac muscle may be caused by several reasons:
- A high cholesterol level in the blood (a formation of the cholesterol plaques) – a common cause of the heart attack;
- Thrombus (or if thrombus comes off in one of the section of the body and has blocked the blood supply to the cardiac muscle);
- Diabetes mellitus;
- Heart rheumatism;
- Infectious and inflammatory heart diseases;
- Excessive body mass (obesity);
- Dysfunction of the thyroid gland and lack of the hormones.
Some factors directly influence on the blood patency through the blood vessels. The most dangerous state is atherosclerosis, thrombosis, and diabetes mellitus. The rest pathological changes indirectly influence on the functions of the cardiovascular system and slowly lead to the heart attack.
How to prevent heart attack?
A health of your cardiovascular system completely falls on you. And if you do not follow your lifestyle and do not visit a cardiologist, there is a high risk of the development of the heart attack and other heart diseases.
There are several simple rules that will help to prevent the heart attacks:
- Increase physical exercise. The more the movements, the better the blood circulation is, and the lower a chance of the formation of the clots in the heart is.
- Control your body mass. Obesity favors a development of diabetes, atherosclerosis, and other pathologies that affect the blood vessels and can cause narrowing of lumen in them.
- Follow your healthy eating.
- Do not let the blood pressure increase. The hypertonic crisis is dangerous for the heart.
But if you have preconditions to the development of the heart attack and you feel the first symptoms, here are some rules how to wait for the ambulance or stop the heart attack:
- When pain occurs, start coughing.
Take a nice deep breath before coughing. The cough should be deep, thoracal, every 2 seconds. Do it till the help comes or the heart will beat softer. The matter is that deep breath supplies oxygen to the lungs, and a cough compresses the cardiac muscle and makes the blood better circulate. It helps the heart to restore the normal rhythm.
- Keep nitroglycerine to hand
Even if you think you are healthy, nitroglycerine will not hurt. Even young people face the heart attack because of the stress. The use of nitroglycerine will regulate the heart contraction. If you do not use the package with nitroglycerine, it may be useful for your relatives.
- Take a deep breath during stress
You should faster restore breathing and increase the supply of oxygen in the blood. Do not drive, distract from work and completely relax. A tension after the severe stress may be dangerous because it may cause the heart attack.
Do beta blockers prevent heart attack?
Beta-blockers are the golden standard in the treatment of many cardiovascular diseases. But they are valuable in the treatment of the infarction and a prevention of the heart attack.
Beta-adrenoceptors bring the double use during the myocardial infarction:
- Using the drugs from this group within the first minutes after the heart attack lowers the need of myocardium in oxygen and improves its supply, reduces pain, restricts a zone of the necrotic tissue development.
- In case of the regular use of the beta-blocker for the prophylaxis, a risk of the infarction development drops by more than 35%.
It is clinically proved that the therapy with beta-blockers after the myocardial infarction reduces a risk of the repeated infarction by 68%, and a regular use of medications from this group reduces the death rate of the cardiovascular diseases by one third.
The matter is that a task of the beta-blockers is to regulate the cardiac rhythm, to stop the increase of the blood pressure, and avoid the blood congestion in the myocardium tissues. Due to the regulation of the heartbeat, a risk of the ischemic heart disease and a disorder of the blood circulation is reduced. The more stable the heart contracts, and the blood supply is, the lower a risk of the heart attack is.
Heart attack treatment and medication
The treatment of the heart attack should be started from the first seconds. If you suspect a heart attack, it is necessary to call an ambulance and inform about the symptoms. Then you should take a dose of nitroglycerine or aspirin as soon as possible. When doctor arrives, tell what medications you have taken in order to avoid the double effect. Aspirin prevents the blood clotting, and therefore it may help to overcome the heart attack.
The American association of heart has given important recommendations for the treatment of the heart attack. The treatment should be started on the way to hospital because every second is precious.
The immediate treatment of the heart attack comes down to the use of the drugs thinning the blood, or affecting the blood clots (thrombolytics). Also, a patient is prescribed drugs to reduce the heart tension, pain, treat abnormal heart rhythm that may be dangerous for life. These medications include beta-blockers. As a rule, a patient is given a high dose of beta-blockers intravenously or intramuscularly in order to remove the tension.
In the hospital, a patient should take electrocardiogram tracing and the blood test. If the heart attack is diagnosed, a heart catheterization may be done. During this procedure a small catheter is implemented into the artery through which the work of the coronary artery is observed. If it is blocked and does not let the blood blow, the urgent surgery to remove the thrombus is done, and the blood supply is restored. A dilation of the coronary artery is also possible in order to quickly restore the blood flow.
A surgical treatment of the heart attack is good within 3 days after the infarction. It will be better if the surgery is done within 2-3 hours from the attack. The surgery is useless in later period, and a patient is prescribed a pharmaceutical treatment.
The pharmaceutical therapy is based on the use of the beta-blockers, aspirin, anticoagulants, and thrombolytic. To remove the load from the heart, nitroglycerine is used. These medicines are prescribed for a year but beta-blockers are usually taken for life after the heart attack. The pharmaceutical therapy is aimed at the reduction of the load on the cardiac muscle, a control of the heart rate and the blood pressure. Medications create the optimal conditions for the heart work in order to eliminate the repeated infarction.
Heart attack drugs: Propranolol (Inderal). How it works?
Dr. Gregg Reger, MD: Propranolol (Inderal) is the first line drug during the heart attack. It is prescribed within the first hours after the infarction and is taken for at least 6 months to control the complications.
The mechanism of the pharmacological action of Propranolol consists in blocking the beta-adrenoceptors in the cardiac muscle. Due to this, a reduction of the heart contracts is reduced, and a need of myocardium in oxygen is decreased. The load on the myocardium is reduced within 60 minutes after the use of the high therapeutic dose of Propranolol. The therapeutic effect achieves its maximum within 1-2 weeks.
The pharmacological action of Propranolol is meant to prevent the heart attacks including repeated ones. It controls the rates of the blood pressure, increases the amount of the heart release, prevents a development of the ischemic heart disease and heart failure, the main factors causing the heart attack.
Foods to prevent heart attack
Food plays an important role to prevent the heart attack. First, deficit of potassium and magnesium happens because of the unbalanced diet. Secondly, the abuse of the fatty food causes the increase of the cholesterol in the blood.
A complex set of the micro-elements, especially potassium is needed for a good work of the heart. It can be found in bananas, fresh apricots, dried apricots, raisins, dates, and figs.
A regular consumption of the olive oil is a good prophylaxis of strokes and heart attacks. The olive oil improves the blood vessels and makes them more elastic. Milk and heavy food slows the digestion process, and it leads to constipations and a release of the toxins in the blood.
Remember about fish. For example, salmon rich in unsaturated fat acids omega 3 can effectively lower the blood pressure. And if it is consumed 2 times a week, it will reduce a risk of the development of the heart attack by one third. Other types of fatty fish are also useful for the heart: tuna, herring, and sardine.
A consumption of broccoli helps to deliver oxygen to the heart and improve the state of the blood vessels walls. Meals with broccoli should be added to your menu several times a week.
Avocado contains unsaturated fats that are needed for the normal work of the cardio-vascular system. A great amount of potassium helps during the work of the cardiac muscle and gets rid of stress, one of the main factors of the atherosclerosis and heart attack development.
Flaxseed oil is a real champion containing omega3 fatty acids, and it even competes fish oil. Omega-3fatty acids lower the level of the cholesterol and thin the blood preventing the development of thrombus and improving the blood vessels. This prevents a development of the heart attack.