Heart attack

Heart attackA heart attack (also acute coronary syndrome) is a condition in which a sudden obstruction of the coronary artery occurs. The obstruction of the artery causes the blood flow to stop, which can lead to partial or total heart muscle damage. The heart attack is the most common cause of illness and death in both men and women all over the world. Approximately 1.5 million people suffer a heart attack each year, and more than half a million die from it. More than half fatal cases happen while the patient is still in the ambulance being driven to a hospital. A heart attack can happen at any time during a person’s life; however the possibility does progressively increase as the person ages. On average, every fifth person over the age of fifty suffers a heart attack, as does every second person over the age of eighty. The risk factors for the obstruction are numerous and very complex, the most important being heightened blood fat levels, mostly low LDL cholesterol and a high blood pressure. Other factors include an unhealthy diet, smoking, excessive weight and the presence of diabetes.

If a heart attack is suspected you must immediately call the emergency number (112)

The common characteristic of all patients suffering from acute coronary syndrome is chest pain. If a heart attack is suspected you must immediately call the emergency number (112). The patient can take medication which will immediately alleviate the pain: this medication is called nitroglycerin and it comes in the form of a spray or tablets. If the patient loses consciousness or stops breathing, the resuscitation procedure must be administered immediately. Various manners of treatment are possible after a medical diagnosis. They are classifies into surgery procedures and medications.

The disease is recognized according to the patient’s anamnesis and the characteristic symptoms of the disease. It is important to recognize the disease quickly as any delay can be fatal. When the patient is in the ambulance or the emergency room of a hospital, the doctor performs an electrocardiography (ECG) which immediately shows the changes on the heart muscle. Alongside the ECG the diagnosis process includes the results of blood works which show the presence of certain enzymes in the blood. These enzymes are characteristic only for the heart and they also show the amount of damage on the heart.

Prevention and therapy

We can significantly decrease the possibility of a heart attack by adhering to preventive measures. A healthy life style is most important, as well as a scrupulous taking of medications, after they have been prescribed by a doctor.

A healthy diet – one of the most common reasons for a heart attack is excessive weight and an increased cholesterol level. Food which does not contain animal fat can drastically lower the possibility of a heart attack.

Quitting smoking – the risk of suffering a heart attack doubles when you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. Regular passive smokers (e.g. people whose partner is a smoker) have a 30% higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. When a smoker quits smoking the danger of their suffering a heart attack starts to decrease, but it reaches the low risk of a non-smoker only after ten years.

Regular blood pressure measurement – it enables an early discovery and treatment of hypertension and lowers the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

Managing stress – during stress adrenalin, a stress hormone is released, and it causes a higher heart rate and the contraction of blood vessels, which increases the risk of a heart attack.

Moderate alcohol intake – an intake of high quantities of alcohol is connected to a high blood pressure and to an irregular heart rate, both of which are heart attack risk factors.

Anti-aggregation medications (Aspirin is the most known) are medications which stop the blood from coagulating and subsequently lessen the possibility of the appearance of blood clots.

Beta blockers reduce the heart rate and blood pressure, as well as the need for blood and in this way prevent heart attacks.

ACE inhibitors lower the blood pressure and lessen the risk of cardiovascular diseases with patients who had already suffered a heart attack.

Statins are medications which reduce the blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.