Every year over half a million people in the US experience a heart attack (myocardial infarction). Unfortunately about half of them die.
Though heart attacks can be sudden the underlying cause usually develops gradually. Often a heart attack is confused with sudden cardiac death. However, sudden cardiac death is caused by an irregular electronic signal resulting in a massive arrhythmia.
A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle (myocardium) is greatly reduced or cut off.
When blood (and therefore oxygen) to the heart muscle is cut off, the heart cells can be permanently damaged or even die. Depending on the severity of the damage the heart can stop - causing death. In other cases the heart continues to function but with permanent damage.
If you experience the symptoms of a heart attack call 9-1-1 immediately.
By the way… Do you have your own story to tell about an experience with a heart attack? Or perhaps another heart health issue? Have you learned something in your reading that you would like to share? If so you can have your own webpage right here on this site.
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Myocardial infarction (heart attack) is caused by ischemic heart disease. The word "ischemia" means "reduced blood supply". Therefore ischemic heart disease is simply a condition where the blood supply to the heart is greatly reduced. It is the most common cause of death in most developed countries. It was estimated in 2002 that 12.6% of deaths world wide were caused by ischemic heart disease.
Ischemic heart disease is caused by atherosclerosis, the underlying condition of coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
Atherosclerosis is the process whereby plaque builds up in the blood vessels.
The good news – and the tragedy of it – is coronary heart disease is to a large degree preventable. By inference then, many heart attacks are preventable. By stopping the progression of coronary heart disease we can greatly reduce our risk of experiencing a heart attack.
Click here and read more about the causes of heart attacks.
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Are there health issues – in addition to your heart health – that concern you? Like…
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As you might expect the risk factors for experiencing a heart attack are the same risk factors for developing coronary heart disease. For example…
As you can see some of the primary risk factors for heart attack are controllable.
Cigarette smoking greatly increases your chances of suffering a fatal of non-fatal heart attack. Women who smoke and use oral contraceptives are at higher risk than women who smoke but don’t use contraceptives. People who quit smoking reduce their risk. In fact…
One year after quitting a former smoker decreases his risk of heart attack roughly by half.
Both high cholesterol and high triglycerides promote the development of atherosclerosis. Arteries clogged by atherosclerotic plaque reduce the amount of blood and oxygen that feed the heart muscles. Also, increased plaque buildup increases the chances of developing a clot. Clots can result in cutting off the blood supply to the heart or brain resulting in heart attack or stroke.
Long-term high blood pressure causes the heart to overwork thereby increasing oxygen and nutritional demands. It also stresses the heart and vascular system leading to congestive heart failure. High blood pressure increases the likelihood of clots and the development of aneurisms.
Obesity increases heart attack risk because of its association with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Moderate alcohol consumption has been proven beneficial by raising HDL cholesterol levels. However excessive drinking raises triglyceride levels and blood pressure thereby increasing the likelihood of a heart attack.
By avoiding the risk factors associated with atherosclerosis development it is possible to greatly reduce your likelihood of experiencing a heart attack. Risk factors like age and gender are impossible avoid. But many of us can lose weight.
Exercise along with a heart healthy diet can help take off the pounds
If you have diabetes be very diligent about treating it.
And if you smoke, please stop.
A little wine is good for your heart and cardiovascular system. But don’t over do.
For years we have known that high cholesterol is a leading cause of atherosclerosis. More particularly it is high levels of LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol that promote atherosclerosis and, indirectly, heart attacks. By watching what we eat we can minimize the results of a bad cholesterol profile.
In addition to high cholesterol, high triglycerides have been shown to promote atherosclerosis even when cholesterol levels are normal. Triglycerides are a form of fat used for storage in the body. They are necessary. But excessive amounts of triglycerides promote heart trouble. You can read more in the triglycerides section.
High blood pressure is a way of life for millions of people. If your blood pressure is high make every effort to get it down and keep it there. There are a number of medications that can help. There are also natural ways to lower blood pressure. Begin with natural efforts and take medications when necessary.
On top of all other efforts get some exercise. Moderate exercise strengthens the heart. It also helps reverse the effects of several of the underlying causes of heart attacks. Stick to a heart healthy diet. And get plenty of Omega-3 to prevent a heart attack.
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People are making great improvements in their heart health.
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