A heart attack happens when there is a sudden complete blockage of an artery that supplies blood to an area of your heart.
A heart is a muscle, and it needs a good blood supply to keep it healthy.
As we get older, the smooth inner walls of the arteries that supply the blood to the heart can become damaged and narrow due to the build up of fatty materials, called plaque.
When an area of plaque breaks, blood cells and other parts of the blood stick to the damaged area and form blood clots. A heart attack occurs when a blood clot completely blocks the flow of blood and seriously reduces blood flow to the heart muscle. This also results in patients experiencing chest pain.
As a result, some of the heart muscle starts to die.
The longer the blockage is left untreated, the more the heart muscle is damaged. If the blood flow is not restored quickly, the damage to the heart muscle is permanent.
A heart attack is sometimes called a myocardial infarction (MI), acute myocardial infarction, coronary occlusion or coronary thrombosis.
A heart attack happens when there is a sudden complete blockage of an artery that supplies blood to an area of your heart.
The underlying cause of a heart attack is coronary heart disease.
Some people may not know they have coronary heart disease until they have a heart attack. For others, a heart attack can happen after weeks, months or years of having coronary heart disease.
Heart attack warning signs can vary from person to person, and they may not always be sudden or severe. Read about heart attack warning signs
If you are rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack, your health care team will do some tests to find out if you are having a heart attack. They may include:
These tests will help them to decide the best treatment for you. Find out more about medical tests
If you think you’re having a heart attack, call Triple Zero (000). Don’t hang up. Ask the operator for an ambulance. Too many people lose their lives because they wait too long to get treatment for heart attack.
You may be given medicines to help dissolve clots.
There is a high risk of dangerous changes to your heartbeat after the start of a heart attack. The most serious changes stop your heart beating and cause a cardiac arrest. Ambulance or hospital staff may use a defibrillator to give your heart a controlled electric shock that may make it start beating again.
In hospital, you will receive treatments that help to reduce damage to your heart, and to help prevent future problems. You may need to have a procedure like:
angioplasty and stent implantation
bypass surgery (also known as coronary artery bypass grafts or CABG).
Read more about heart procedures and devices
Preventing further problems
Medical treatments and healthy lifestyle choices can help your heart attack recovery, greatly reduce your risk of further heart problems, and relieve or control symptoms such as angina. Read about living with heart disease
If you’ve had a heart attack or a procedure, you should be given information about a cardiac rehabilitation program which is another really important step in your recovery.
The heart is one part of your body that pumps blood relentlessly; to be grateful to the most important organ, it’s your duty to look after its health. Cardiovascular diseases and heart ailments can be prevented by making minor changes in your lifestyle.
Here are a few tips to keep your heart healthy:
Add fiber to your diet: Making fiber a part of your regular diet is a great idea as the heart works best when it runs on natural fuel. You can achieve this by adding more raw fruits and vegetables in your meals as they are an excellent source of fiber and nutrients.
Engage in physical activity: Your heart is a muscle and to make it healthier, you need some form of physical exercise. Engaging in cardiovascular forms of exercise for an hour daily keeps your heart in good condition. Engaging in physical activity also reduces the risk of getting a heart disease and acts as a stress buster.
Cut down on the salt intake: The sodium content in salt disrupts the balance of fluids in your body leading to high blood pressure. This can affect the functioning of the heart; that is to pump blood, which is a major cause of a heart attack. So, cutting down on salt can reduce stress and the risks of heart attacks.
Manage your weight: People on the overweight side run a risk of getting heart diseases more often than fit and leaner ones as they tend to be more inactive and sluggish. The heart diseases caused due to obesity can be avoided by making minor changes to your diet and exercising on a daily basis.
Quit smoking: If you are a regular smoker, quitting is the best thing you can do for your heart. The main reason for coronary heart diseases is nicotine present in the cigarette. Once, you quit smoking completely, you will be 50% less likely to run the risks of a heart attack as compared to a regular smoker.
Heart attacks and heart disease are more often viewed as a man's problem then a woman's. But, since 1984, more women die of heart disease each year in the United States than men. And every year in the United States, 9,000 women under the age of 45 have a heart attack. Unfortunately, heart attack symptoms often go unnoticed in women, resulting in sometimes dire consequences.
Heart Attack Symptoms in Women
According to Jennifer Lawton, MD, associate professor of surgery in the division of cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Washington in St. Louis, “Women are more likely to have atypical symptoms [of a heart attack] than men. Those could include something like heartburn or burning in the upper abdomen, fatigue, difficulty breathing, even nausea. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who don’t have any symptoms before their first heart attack.”
Typical heart attack symptoms in men may include crushing chest pain, tightness, or discomfort; pain may radiate to the arms, back, jaw, and neck. But women often experience only shortness of breath, lightheadedness or dizziness, or vague pain somewhere in the upper abdomen, arm, or neck. It is believed that women may have different heart attack symptoms because different coronary arteries (the arteries in the heart which when blocked, cause a heart attack) are blocked. In women, blockage may occur in smaller coronary arteries as opposed to the main arteries, where blockage often begins in men.
Heart Attack in Women: Age Plays a Role
Women tend to develop heart disease and become more prone to heart attacks about 10 years later than men. Since women are generally older when they develop heart disease, they may ignore signs of heart disease and heart attack because they attribute the symptoms to something else, perhaps simply to aging.
Even when heart disease or heart attack symptoms are recognized, women may delay seeking medical attention for themselves because they are busy caring for children, spouses, or elderly parents who depend on them. But, delaying treatment can be the difference between life and death when it comes to heart attacks. Treatment for heart attack includes administration of a clot-busting drug. This drug works best when given within an hour of the first symptom. However, since women tend to ignore their symptoms longer than men, often delaying treatment, they do not get the full benefit of this treatment.
Preventing a Heart Attack: What Women Can Do
The American Heart Association has a slogan: “Know your numbers.” Dr. Lawton explains that this is to encourage women to see their doctor and become more knowledgeable about their blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.
There isn’t much a woman should do differently from a man when it comes to preventing a heart attack. If your numbers are high (blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood sugar), you need to work on getting them down and under control. This means exercising, quitting smoking if you smoke, and eating a healthy, low-fat diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables. Lowering your salt intake may help, too.
There are some heart attack risk factors that can’t be modified: age and family history. You are at higher risk of developing heart disease and having a heart attack if you have a primary relative (parent or sibling) who had a heart attack at a young age. For a man, being under 45 years old and having a heart attack is considered young; for women, it’s being under 55 years old.
Heart Attack: Don’t Let Youth Fool You
Heart disease is less common in younger women, but it’s not nonexistent, says Lawton. “The youngest woman who I’ve operated on for bypass surgery was 32 years old,” she says.
Reducing your risk factors for heart disease is vital to preventing death from heart disease and/or a heart attack. Lawton points out that more women die of heart disease than from breast cancer. “One in 2.4 women will die of this disease as opposed to one in 29 who will die of breast cancer,” she says.
However, you’re not powerless. Lawton suggests asking your doctor to check your cholesterol levels and see if you are doing everything you can to take care of your heart, like eating right and exercising.
If you have symptoms of a possible heart attack, such as heartburn or burning in your chest, shortness of breath, lightheadedness or dizziness, or vague pain somewhere in the upper abdomen, arm, or neck, even if you are not sure, call 911 immediately. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
Breast-feeding not only protects babies from premature deaths and serious diseases but also mothers from breast cancer and heart attacks, among others, suggests a study.
According to the study published in the journal Maternal and Child Nutrition, breast-feeding helps mothers to reduce chances of getting diagnosed with breast cancer, per-menopausal ovarian cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart attacks.
For children breast-feeding reduces the risk of diseases like acute lymphoblastic leukemia, ear infections, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, gastrointestinal infections, lower respiratory tract infections, obesity, necrotizing enterocolitis and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
"Breast-feeding has long been framed as a child health issue, however it is clearly a women's health issue as well. Breast-feeding helps prevent cancer, diabetes and heart disease, yet many women have no idea breast-feeding has any of these benefits," said Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, Professor at University of California - Davis Health System in the US.
For the study, the research team modeled two groups: One was an "optimal" group in which the majority of moms breastfed as recommended. That group was compared with a "sub optimal" group, in which young mothers breastfed less than the recommended guidelines.
Using existing research and government data, they projected the rates and costs of diseases that breastfeeding is known to reduce, along with the rates and costs of early deaths from those diseases.
"Breast-feeding is far more beneficial in preventing disease and reducing costs than previously estimated," said Melissa Bartick, Assistant Professor at the Harvard Medical School.
Currently, 22 per cent of employed mothers return to work within 10 days of childbirth. Paid leave keeps mothers and babies together, which is essential for breast-feeding. Enacting paid family leave will impact the lifelong health of women and children, suggested the study.
The study authors said their findings underscore the importance of providing women with the support they need to breast-feed their babies, beginning at birth.
"The study results underscore the importance of policies that make it possible for women to breastfeed," Alison Stuebe, Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina, US.
Obesity refers to having too much fat in one's body. But it isn't the same as being over-weight. An over-weight person weighs more than he is supposed to due to the weight of his bones, muscles, fats and body water. Whereas obesity occurs when there is an accumulation of excess or abnormal amounts of fat in the body. People are considered to be obese when their body mass index is more than 30 kg/m2, when the normal range is 25-30 kg/m2. Body Mass Index (BMI) is the body mass divided by the square of the body height and is universally expressed in kilograms by metre square.
According to Dr. Sujeet Jha, Director Endocrinology, Diabetes & Obesity, Max Super Specialty Hospital, "Obesity in women leads to abdominal obesity, which is the excessive fat build-up around the stomach area that leads to cardiovascular disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes. It also can harm the heart muscle more directly."
Causes of Obesity in Women
Women develop this medical condition due to several reasons which result in negative and harmful effects on their health. Thyroid, metabolic syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are a few of the leading causes of obesity in women. Genes also play a significant role at making an individual obese and some rare genetic diseases make it impossible to get rid of this condition. Pregnancy too may contribute to obesity and result in eating disorders like binge-eating.
obesity obese kids
Those who were over-weight as kids have a higher chance at being obese as adults. Steroids and drugs may have harmful side-effects on one's body and lead to obesity too. Eating foods which are high in fat and calories and not working-out to burn the added pounds are a common problem seen in most Indian households. Women who have a lower metabolic rate have a tough time in keeping a check on weight. This puts the women at a high risk for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and a number of cancers like postmenopausal breast cancer and endometrial cancer.
Symptoms of Obesity
The symptoms of obesity are disturbed sleep, shortness of breath, gallstones, varicose veins, sleep apnea, which is a condition which causes breathing irregularity and trouble while sleeping, etc. BMI is used to diagnose obesity; if it is higher than 30, it is stated as obesity. Body fat can also be calculated by using an instrument that measures the thickness of your skin, called "Calipers".
Due to the inability of women to resist emotional cues and uncontrolled eating, obesity affects them more than men. According to Dr. Pradeep Chowbey, Chairman of Max Institute of Minimal Access, Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery, Chairman of Surgery & Allied Surgical Specialties, Executive Vice Chairman of Max Healthcare, "Women are approximately 60% more prone to obesity. In addition to genetics, caloric imbalance and poor lifestyle choices, there could be multiple reasons for obesity in women. Primarily, multiple pregnancies and sedentary lifestyles today as compared to the enormous physical activities till about few decades back are showing a rise in obesity cases. But this can be avoided by sensitizing women from an early age and introducing such issues in schools and colleges where women must be made aware of what Body Mass Index is and continuously monitor it."
How to Control Obesity
Obesity can be treated by increasing physical activity and reducing calorie-intake. A modified diet which consists of healthy fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils will help reduce the condition. Carbohydrates and unhealthy fats should be reduced and in-take of calcium-based foods like kale, broccoli, salmon, cabbage, etc. should be increased. Whole grains, nuts, seeds and leafy vegetables should be added to one's diet. Regular jogs and moderate intensity workouts for 60 minutes on most days is important to do away from obesity. All-round fitness should be strived for to make oneself healthy and get rid of obesity.
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