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Heart Disease: Know The Facts

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. It’s estimated that every 40 seconds, someone in the world has a heart attack.

For us Indians, particular causes of concern in Cardio-Vascular Disease (CVD) are early age of onset, rapid progression, and high mortality rate. Indians are known to have the highest Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) rates, and the conventional risk factors fail to explain this increased risk. There are no structured data collections methods regarding cardiac mortality and morbidity for the Indian subcontinent, and also the majority of deaths happen at home without knowing the exact cause of death. Hospital-based cardiovascular morbidity and mortality data may not be representative of the overall cardiovascular disease burden. In India in 2016, CVDs contributed to 28% of total deaths and 14% of total Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) compared with 15% and 6%, respectively in 1990.

How does it happen?

A heart attack occurs when there is a sudden interruption of blood flow within a diseased artery, typically due to a blood clot that forms when the plaque ruptures. Time is muscle. The early recognition of symptoms is vital to limit the damage done to the heart muscle. The less amount of injury the heart sustains, the better the outcome and prognosis. Every 30 minutes of delay increases the 1-year mortality risk by 7.5%. The period between the onset of symptoms and the decision to call for medical assistance remains the most important cause of total pre-hospital delay.

What are the Heart Attack Symptoms?

The “typical” symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain: Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
  • Pain that radiates across the chest or upper abdomen, up the neck, jaw and shoulders and down the arm.
  • Other associated symptoms may include:
    • Breathlessness
    • Nausea, vomiting or belching (indigestion)
    • Sweating
    • Palpitations (skipped heart beats)
    • Dizziness, lightheadedness
    • Fainting
    • Feeling tired

Women, the elderly, and diabetics may also experience the above symptoms; however, they’re more likely to have “atypical” symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, back pain, abdominal pain, jaw pain, and shortness of breath without feeling chest pain.

Do not ignore any of these symptoms, especially if they intensify and last longer than fifteen minutes, immediate medical treatment is necessary.

A smart engineer!

10 days back we had a patient (a 40 years old engineer in a power plant), who had discomfort in the lower part of the chest radiating to the back, at about 8 PM. Within 30 minutes he decided to seek medical help from a nearby clinic, though his family members were in denial and relating the symptoms to gastritis. ECG taken at the clinic showed evidence of a major heart attack. He received primary care and was then referred to our hospital for angioplasty.

He reached JP hospital within 3 hours of symptom onset. He was immediately shifted to the cath lab for an angiogram, which showed a huge thrombus sitting at the beginning of a major artery of the heart. Angioplasty was done for the same.

He was symptom-free by morning. Echo after 2 days did not show any evidence of a heart attack. When he came for follow-up after 10 days, he was going for a 1 to 1.5 km walk daily and walking up to the 2nd floor in his building. He could save his cardiac muscle due to his smartness.

What Can You Do To Prevent Heart Attacks And Heart Disease?

Promoting good heart health starts by:

  • Knowing and recognizing the early signs and symptoms of a heart attack, both “typical” and “atypical.” Time is muscle.
  • Identifying and understanding the risk factors for heart disease.
  • Seeking medical attention if you develop symptoms suggestive of heart disease or possess significant risk factors.
  • Implementing lifestyle modifications focused on appropriate diet and nutrition, regular activity, weight management, smoking cessation, reduced alcohol intake and stress management.
  • Initiating medical therapy as guided by your care provider.
  • Embracing a positive and joyful attitude.

We’re Here To Help!

Dr. R. Pradeep Kumar
HOD, Dept. of Cardiac Sciences
Former Asst. Professor, CMC Vellore
Jaiprakash Hospital & Research Centre

In case of any cardiac emergency,
Rush to JP Hospital
Contact.: 0661-246 1111

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