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All You Want to Know About Heart Diseases

Heart is the most important organ present in our body whose main role is to pump blood. It is at the center of the circulatory system and consists of the network of blood vessels such as arteries, veins and capillaries. With the help of these blood vessels, blood is carried to and from all areas of the body. Our heart is about the size of a fist which is located just behind and slightly left to the breastbone. There are various conditions which affects the working of our heart. Heart attack is one of them.

What is Heart Attack?

In simpler terms, heart attack is the blockage of blood flow to the heart muscle. During a heart attack, the blood supply to the heart muscle is lost and is damaged. The blood is usually cut off when an artery which supplies the heart supplies the heart muscles is blocked due to a blood clot. In the case of death of heart muscles, there is chest pain and electrical instability of the heart muscle.

There should be no confusion while dealing with heart attack. It should not be confused with cardiac arrest. In a cardiac arrest, there is stopping of the pumping of blood around the body. If there is any relation between the two, then a heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest.

Cause of Heart Attack

With time, there can be plaque formation along the course of an artery. This narrows down the channel through which the blood flows. This plaque is made up of cholesterol buildup and eventually it hardens with calcium deposits too. Enough blood cannot be supplied to the heart muscles by the artery if it is too narrow. The pain of heart muscle can be compared with that of arm muscle and leg muscle if it does not get enough blood. The pain which is felt during heart attack is known as angina.

Factors Associated with Heart Attack

There are several factors which are associated with heart attack. Some of them are given below –

1. Age plays an important factor. Heart attacks are more likely when males are above 45 years old and females are over 55 years.

2. Angina is another reason which causes chest pain due to lack of oxygen or blood supply.

3. People who are HIV positive have an increased risk of suffering a heart attack.

4. Smokers are at higher risk as compared to non smokers.

5. In case of obesity, extra pressure is put on the heart.

6. High cholesterol can cause clotting of the blood.

7. Diabetes can increase heart attack risk.

8. An improper diet of high fat content can increase the likelihood of a heart attack.

9. Genetics also play a role in inheriting risk of heart attack.

10. Diabetes and heart attack go hand in hand.

11. Stress of work also plays a role in increasing the risk of heart attack.

Symptoms of Heart Attack

It is important to identify the signs of a heart attack so that there is early diagnosis. Some of the symptoms are mentioned below –

Crushing chest pain is a sure sign of heart attack.

Coughing can appear.

Feeling of nausea and unpleasantness.

Vomiting is a sign of heart attack.

Dizziness can also be caused.

In case of heart attack, there is shortness of breath which is also known as dyspnea.

There is visible change in the face and it turns grey in color.

Feeling awful in general.

There is restlessness in the body which is followed by clamminess and sweatiness.

There is a feeling of pressure, tightness, pain, squeezing, aching in the chest or arms that spreads to the neck, jaw or back can be a sign that a person is having heart attack.

Warning Signs of Heart Attack

Major heart attack can turn out to be fatal. It is important to identify the warning signs that an attack is occurring. The symptoms of heart attack are listed above but there are four warning signs listed as being crucial signs of heart attack. These signs include –

Most of the heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest. It can last for few minutes and goes that way and then comes back. You can feel uncomfortable pressure, squeezing and fullness of pain.

There is discomfort in the upper areas of the body. There can be pain or discomfort in one or both the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.

One sure warning sign is shortness of breath which may or may not be accompanied with shortness of breath.

Some other signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea and lightheadedness. These signs also occur while a heart attack breaks.

Prevention of Heart Attack

Engaging in healthy habits is the best way of preventing a heart attack. Some of the steps that are taken for healthy living are as follows –

Refrain from smoking.

Eating a balanced diet which keeps our body fit.

Taking part in physical activities like yoga, jogging, running etc.

It is important to take plenty of sleep to rest your body.

Diabetes is a disease which should be kept under control.

Alcohol intake should be avoided.

Blood cholesterol should be at appropriate levels.

Blood pressure is also critical for our heart.

Body weight should be maintained and we should be away from obesity.

Avoiding and managing stress can be considered as a trick in case of heart attacks.

Diagnosis of Heart Attack

Blood Tests – blood tests are done to measure levels of cardiac enzymes with the help of which we are able to gauge heart muscle damage. These enzymes are found inside the cells of the heart and needed for their function. The size of the heart attack is determined by measuring the levels of these enzymes. Along with blood tests, troponin levels are also measured which may indicate a heart attack.

Electrocardiogram (ECG) – ECG is the procedure of recording the electrical activity of the heart over a period of time. It is done by placing electrodes on the skin. This test will tell how much damage has occurred to the heart muscle and in which area it has occurred. Heart rate and rhythm are additionally monitored with this test.

Echocardiography – Echocardiography is a sonogram of the heart that uses the help of sound waves to create moving pictures of the heart. It is a painless test which uses standard two-dimensional, three-dimensional and Doppler ultrasound to create images of the heart. 

Cardiac Catheterization – Cardiac catheterization uses a long, thin and flexible tube called a catheter to diagnose heart attack. This catheter is inserted into a large blood vessel that leads to the heart and the blocked artery is directly visualized. It will help your doctor determine which procedure is needed to treat the blockage.

Surgical Treatment of Heart Attack

One of the most common surgeries imparted for heart attack is Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery (CABG). Eternal Hospital is one of the most preferred hospitals providing state-of-the-art cardiac surgeries to the patients. The cardiac sciences team of experts is internationally recognized for their pioneering work in the field of heart transplant, TAVI, Minimally Invasive cardiac surgery Coronary bypass surgery, coronary angioplasty for correction of congenital anomalies.

Our cardiology and cardiac surgeon team comprises of Dr. Samin K Sharma, Dr. Ravinder Singh Rao, Dr. Atul Kasliwal, Dr. Sanjeev Sharma, Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Sidana, Dr. Hemant Chaturvedi, Dr. Jitendra S. Makkar, Dr. Prem Ratan Degawat, Dr. Saurabh Jaiwal and Dr. Ajeet Bana. We are the pioneer of Rajasthan Heart Attack Treatment (RAHAT) program in Rajasthan. Under this programme, immediate and timely treatment will be provided to heart attack patients in remote and rural areas.

Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery (CABG)

CABG is a surgical procedure to improve the flow of the blood to the heart. This surgery is often given when a patient has suffered heart attack. It is used to replace damaged arteries that supply blood to the heart muscles. If the arteries are blocked or damaged, then the blood flow will be restricted and the heart does not work properly.

In this procedure, you will be given anesthesia, fluids, medication etc through an IV. In this procedure, an incision is made in the middle of your chest. Your rib cage will be visible and it will be spread apart to expose the heart. Or, there is a minimally invasive procedure too in which your surgeon will make smaller cuts and use special instruments and robotic procedures. The surgeon may also use cooling techniques to bring body temperature down to around 64.4 degrees F. This technique allows the doctor to operate on your heart tissue for a few hours at a time.

Then, the doctor will remove a healthy blood vessel from the chest or the leg to replace the blocked or damaged portion of your artery. One end of the graft is attached above the blockage and the other end below it. After the surgery is done, the heart lung machine is removed and the function of the bypass is checked. When you wake up after the surgery, you’ll have a tube in your mouth and you will be in ICU for one or two days to monitor your vital signs.

Recovery After Heart Attack

The recovery process after heart attack is a slow and gradual process. It depends on the severity of the case and the patient’s physical condition. It is important to keep the body active and the doctor will suggest the proper program. You should not rush yourself back to work and proper rest is needed. You should refrain from driving at least 4 weeks after a heart attack. There may be case of erectile dysfunction after heart attack. Approximately, one-third men have problem in getting or sustaining an erection. In this case, it is important to talk to your doctor otherwise you can get in depression not long afterward.  The problem of erectile dysfunction is not a big problem and can be solved with the help of medications in most cases.

Tags: Eternal hospital, heart treatment, heart attack, coronary artery bypass surgery, heart transplant, TAVI, minimally invasive cardiac surgery, coronary angioplasty