Archive For The “Causes and Symptoms of Heart Diseases” Category
Congestive heart failure may sound frightening, but it can be cured with the help of advance medicines and treatment if diagnosed within few hours after the symptoms. In this medical emergency, the heart becomes unable to pump oxygen rich blood throughout the body. There are certain reasons or other medical conditions which tend to develop cardiac failure in a person:
- Disorders that cause heart muscle stiffening.
- Disorders that damage the heart muscle and weaken them.
- Diseases or disorders that increase the demand of oxygen by the body cells beyond the capacity of the heart.
Our heart is divided into two chambers: the upper chamber and the lower chamber. The upper chamber has two atria (left atrium and right atrium) and the lower chamber has two ventricles (right ventricle and left ventricle). The ventricles or muscular chambers pump blood when the muscles of the heart constrict. The process of ventricle muscle contraction is called systole.
Several medical conditions can damage and weaken the muscles of the ventricle and make them unable to pump adequate amount of blood. This disease can be infection (myocarditis), heart attack, toxins(some chemotherapy drugs, alcohol), etc. The inability of the ventricles to pump blood due to the weakening of muscle is called systolic dysfunction. After every systole (ventricular contraction), the muscle of the ventricle needs to relax, which allows the blood to get filled in the ventricles from the atria. This relaxation of the ventricle is referred as diastole.
Disorders such as amyloidosis or hemochromatosis (overload of iron) can stiffen the cardiac muscle and harm the capacity of ventricles to relax and fill; this is called diastolic dysfunction. The prime cause of this condition is longstanding hypertension or high blood pressure that thickens the heart (hypertrophied). In some patients, the pumping and filling capability of the cardiac system is normal, but the abnormally high demand of oxygen by the body tissues (sometimes due to anemia or hyperthyroidism) may trouble the heart in supplying adequate amount of blood, which ultimately results into high output heart failure. In few patients, more than one factor may cause congestive heart failure.
Few Facts about Congestive Heart Failure
This disorder develops when the heart fails to pump enough blood throughout the body. As an outcome, the body organs are deprived of oxygen and nutrient rich blood. Although the term “ heart failure” may sound frightening, it does not mean that the heart literally stops beating or working completely. But it does not work in an efficient manner.
In North America, more than 6 million people get affected by CHF. It is the prime cause for the hospitalization of people above 65 years old. Each congestive heart failure is associated with around 300,000 deaths.
As per studies, men get more prone to this medical condition as compared to women. It is observed that Africans have comparatively more chances of CHF than Europeans; their death rate is also high.
CHF have two basic problems:
Systolic Dysfunction: This occurs when the heart is unable to pump and supply enough blood to various body parts as per their requirement.
Diastolic Dysfunction: This occurs when the heart is not able to accept all the blood being supplied to it.
Several people undergo both diastolic and systolic heart failure.
Effects of Congestive Heart Failure on Various Body Organs
Cardiac heart failure may affect several body organs. For example:
- The lungs may get filled or congested with fluid causing pulmonary edema, which may decrease a person’s ability to workout.
- The intestine may become less efficient or weaken in absorbing the medicines and nutrients.
- The impaired cardiac muscles become unable or fail to supply the required amount of blood to the kidneys. This may cause the inability of the kidney to excrete water and salt (sodium). This disturbed functioning of the kidney may cause the body to build up fluid.
- This fluid may compile in the liver, thereby damaging its potential to eliminate the toxins from the body and develop essential proteins.
- Fluid may also accumulate in the external body parts, resulting in swelling (edema) of the feet and ankle.
Eventually, unnoticed, untreated and worsening cardiac failure will impair each of the body organs.
Several health problems may cause cardiac failure:
- Unrelenting high blood pressure develops force in the arteries which pressurizes the heart to pump more blood, which as a result weakens with time. Patients with uncontrolled blood pressure are at greater risk of developing CCF.
- Coronary artery disease is a medical emergency that narrows the arteries and interrupts the passage of blood flow towards the heart. This may as a result weaken and impair the various cardiac sections.
- Cardiac arrest impairs the muscles of the heart. The heart attack victims have greater possibilities of developing heart failure.
- Arrhythmias or abnormal heart beats may disturb the pumping action of the heart.
- Diabetes increases the risk of CHF.
- Heart valve may get damaged due to infection or rheumatic disease.
- Heart valve disease may develop due to the abnormalities present in a person since birth, or it may also develop over time.
- The heart chambers are divided by a wall and an enlargement in this wall may also be a cause. Enlarged wall can be a genetic condition.
- If the heart muscle develops a viral infection, it may weaken the heart causing cardiac failure.
- Certain problems of the kidney that elevate blood pressure and build up fluid can raise the chances of CCF by developing extra stress on the heart.
Additionally, all the risk factors that are responsible for increasing the chances of heart disease such as obesity, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, also elevate one’s chances of congestive cardiac failure.
Complications and Symptoms of Heart Failure
- It develops new muscle tissue which helps to pump harder.
- It dilates or enlarges to form a huge pump.
- It beats with faster rate.
When the heart compensates, a number of changes take place which ultimately develop symptoms. The heart fails to pump adequate amount of blood through the body, which results into the accumulation of fluid in the lungs and legs due to the back up of blood. This develops remarkable swelling on the legs and ankles and shortness of breath.
The most common warning signs may include:
- Wheezing and coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Weakness and fatigue
- Swollen ankles
- Breathing problem during the night or while lying down
Other symptoms may include:
- Fluid accumulation in the abdomen
- Urination at night
- Bluish skin around the mouth
- Cold feet or hands and pale skin
- Bloating, loss of appetite or abdominal pain
Causes and symptoms of congestive heart failure can be treated by prompt medical treatment, required changes in diet and intake of prescribed medicines on a regular basis.
Cardiovascular disease or heart disease can take different forms: coronary artery disease, rheumatic heart disease/rheumatic fever, valvular heart disease, high blood pressure, etc. As per the records of the World Health Organization, above 17 million people in the world die due to the cardiac disease. This disease is responsible for the death of around fifty percent of population in America and other developed as well as developing countries. All statistics and records state that it is one of the major causes of death among the adults. Risk factors of heart disease in men are quite similar to the risk factors in women; however, use of birth control pills is an additional risk factor for cardiac disease in women.
Cardiovascular disease occurs when arteries that supply oxygenated blood to the heart get clogged due to the deposition of fatty substance called ‘atheroma’ or ‘plaque’. This substance gradually builds up in the inner wall of the arteries over time, making them narrow. This procedure is called atherosclerosis. Narrowing of the arteries results into the reduction of blood flow to the heart muscle and may develop symptoms like angina. When the blood clot forms into the artery and reduces its diameter, the blood supply to the heart gets restricted, thus increasing the chances of getting a heart attack.
What are the Risk Factors?
The mortality rate due to heart disease is rising day by day and hence people need to become aware of the symptoms and risk factors of heart disease. After carrying out several studies and researches on thousands of people, it is found that there are certain factors that contribute a lot in increasing a person’s prospects of developing coronary artery disease. These are referred as risk factors.
Prospects or risk factors of an individual can be categorized into two types:
1.Controllable Risk Factors: Those that can be controlled by medication or making certain changes in lifestyle.
2.Uncontrollable Risk Factors: Those which cannot be change by making any modifications or changes.
Your prospects of developing heart disease increase along with your risk factors. Fortunately, you can control some of your risk factors through medicines and making certain changes in your lifestyle or both. However, few risk factors cannot be controlled at all.
Controllable Risk Factors and Non Controllable Risk Factors
There are multiple causes of heart disease; and risk factors increase your prospect of developing it. Risk factors that can be controlled are called controllable risk factors, while those that cannot be controlled are called uncontrollable risk factors.
Controllable risk factors involve:
- High level of total blood cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Being overweight
- Being physically inactive
- Stress, social isolation and depression.
Uncontrollable risk factors involve:
- Gender (men are more prone to heart disease as compared to women)
- Increasing age
- Family of cardiovascular disease
According to some research, Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people also have an elevated risk of coronary heart disease. Taking the prescribed medications and leading a healthy lifestyle can be helpful in reducing the overall risk of developing heart disease.
High Level of Total Blood Cholesterol
Cholesterol is naturally produced in the body. It can also be obtained from some foods. It is a fatty substance that is used for different functioning in the body, but excessive amount of cholesterol in blood may create various cardiac issues.
High level of cholesterol causes fatty substances to gradually accumulate in the coronary arteries, which make them harder, thus restricting the blood flow. This condition mainly occurs due to the intake of foods high in trans and saturated fats.
High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure mainly depends on two things: how effortlessly the blood runs through the blood vessels and how much blood is pumped by the heart. Pressure of blood in the arteries will decrease and increase throughout the day depending on the activity performed. However, when this pressure is constantly high, a person is said to have high blood pressure. This condition can overload the coronary arteries and heart and speed up the process of artery clogging, which may lead to stroke and heart attack. Along with the arteries, this condition may also affect the other body parts such as kidneys, eyes and legs.
Your eating habits, family history, weight, level of physical activity and alcohol intake have a strong impact on blood pressure. In some cases, medications and drugs, including the contraceptive depot injections, oral contraceptive, arthritis medicines, and steroids, can increase blood pressure. If this medical condition is not treated, it may weaken the heart due to the continuous extra demand and thus may cause heart failure and other serious conditions.
Smoking is not only responsible for causing cancer, but it may also create serious problems related to arteries and other body parts. It can damage the walls of the arteries by reducing the oxygen in the blood. Smoking makes the artery walls as well as the blood stickier, which results into the clumping of blood cells. This may create blockages, making the artery walls narrow, and thus obstructing the blood flow to the heart. Obstruction the blood flow may ultimately result into the various serious conditions such as stroke, heart attack, peripheral arterial disease, gangrene and angina.
- High blood cholesterol
- Coronary heart disease
- Gall bladder disease
- High blood pressure
- Sleeping problems (apnoea)
- Joint problems such as joint pain, arthritis and gout
- Certain forms of cancers
Being apple shaped or carrying extra fats around the middle portion of the body is a major risk for various health issues. So burning the extra fats and balancing the consumed calories by regular workout can help you stay fat free.
It is found that people with coronary artery disease often have type 2 diabetes and combination of both these diseases may make a person prone to stroke, angina and heart attack. It is reported that more people being overweight, with unfavorable eating habits and physically inactive are at greater risk of having diabetes. Diabetic patients may need to maintain their level of glucose in blood by taking medicines and making certain changes in lifestyle.
This condition may develop among the people who do not have social support and are socially isolated. Depression can be controlled with medical as well as non medical treatments.
Age and Gender
Often, men have higher prospects as compare to women for developing cardiovascular disease at middle age and this risk elevates along with the age. Many doctors still wonder why women develop heart disease at a later age; probably the hormonal changes post menopause, in addition with the changes in their risk factors contribute a lot.
Despite your age and gender, you can minimize your chances of getting coronary artery disease if you take the prescribed medicines and follow a healthy lifestyle.
An individual’s genes and family history can elevate their chances to develop:
- High blood cholesterol
- High blood pressure
Though a family history of heart disease increases one’s prospects of developing it, luckily it does not mean even you will develop it for sure. However, a person with family history of such disease needs to take special care and cut off other risk factors (avoid smoking, stay active, lead a healthy lifestyle and restrict trans and saturated fats).
There are several risk factors of heart disease in men, from which some can be controlled or reduced. Taking medicines as per your doctor’s prescription and adopting certain modifications in your lifestyle can definitely help you to stay healthy.
People often tend to think that heart disease occurs only in men, but this is not true. The reality is that cardiovascular disease is one of the fatal diseases in women as well. Considering this fact, it is significant for women of all ages (particularly above 40 years) to understand the risk factors of heart disease in women and take the required steps and measures regrading it.
Unfortunately, the death ratio of women due to cardiovascular disease and stroke is more than men. To protect the health of your heart and keep your prospects of developing heart related diseases as low as possible, it is essentially significant for you to keep a track of the risk factors and try to control them. Women should be always be alert about the leading threats to their health care. Somethings you always need to keep in mind are that certain risk factors contribute highly for developing heart problems in women as compared to men. Although heart attack in women mostly occurs in early seventies, cardiac disorder is a threat at any age. The death rate of women due to cardiovascular disease is more prominent than breast cancer. All these facts and numbers point towards only one thing: you need to learn which stroke and heart disease risk factors should be your point of concern as a woman and which can be controlled? Let’s take an overall look.
Leading Risk Factors of Heart Disease in Women
These risk factors cause problems in both men and women; however, studies state that they may contribute to a large extent to develop cardiac problems in women.
Diabetes: Women with diabetes are 4 to 5 times more prone to heart disease than women without diabetes. Meanwhile, men with diabetes are two times more elevated to heart problem as compared to the men without diabetes.
Decrease in the Level of Estrogen: Diabetes and lower levels of estrogen in women are linked with each other. Younger women who have diabetes tend to have decreased estrogen level and an abnormal ovulation cycle. This is mostly due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS); even older women who are diabetic have some history of a hormonal imbalance. As per studies, it is observed that women who have a history of PCOS are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Experts still completely don’t understand the link between heart health and estrogen level.
Depression: This is often linked with higher prospects. Doctors have still not confirmed if here is any biological basis for the connection or it’s because people under depression tend to skip workout, smoke often, miss appointments of doctors, and eat unhealthy foods, which as a result increase the risk of developing cardiac disease. More women undergo depression as compared to men, so it creates a huge impact on prospects of women.
Birth Control Pills: Use of birth control pills, especially if you smoke, will increase the level of C0 reactive protein (CRP).
Traditional Risk Factors of Cardiovascular Disease in Women
These factors equally contribute in increasing the risk of getting cardiovascular disease in both, men and women
Family History: If any your parents had or have heart related disorder, your prospects of getting it increases. Risk also tends to be greater for Mexican Americans, Native Hawaiians, Native Americans, African Americans and few Asian Americans.
Age: Above 83 percent of people who are prone to death due to cardiovascular disease are above the age of 55.
Obesity or Overweight: Even if you are away from other risk factors, being obese or overweight increases your chances of heart disease, especially if you have accumulated fats around the mid-section of your body.
High Cholesterol Level: As the level of the cholesterol in your body goes up, your prospects for cardiac disease also raises.
High Blood Pressure: When the blood pressure raises, the heart has to perform harder. This creates pressure on the heart and thus elevates your risk.
Metabolic Syndrome: According to the definition, a combination of two or more of these risk factors–insulin resistance, a large waistline, elevated triglyceride levels and low levels of required cholesterol–increase the risk for cardiac disorder, but the risk for men as well women is equal. Metabolic syndrome also elevates the chances for diabetes.
Although cardiovascular disease is often considered as a problem for men, a large number of women as compared to men die every year due to this medical condition. The warning signs of heart disease in women may be different from the signs in men. Luckily, women can take the required measures to understand their unique signs. Heart disease should not be treated as any other less threatening medical condition. Try to find your risks and take as much efforts you can to minimize your risk of developing this type of disease.
What are the Symptoms of Cardiovascular Disease in Women ?
Pressure, pain and discomfort in the chest are some of the most common signs of heart disease. Moreover, in women, it’s not always extreme or the most prominent sign. Women often develop “atypical heart diseases symptoms” such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Unusual fatigue
- Pain in throat or jaw
- Pain in upper abdomen, indigestion
- Feeling of nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Pain in shoulder, neck and upper back
- Arm pain (particularly in the left arm)
These signs are more elusive than the usual squeezing chest pain commonly associated with heart attack. Since women do not show severe symptoms, their heart problems remain unnoticed and thus untreated for a long time. Women often tend to have obstructions not only in the major arteries, but also in the minor arteries through which blood is supplied to the heart. This condition is referred as micro-vascular disease or small vessel heart disorder.
Many women visit their doctor after much damage to the heart. This is because their symptoms are subtle and do not typically indicate heart related diseases. If you undergo any of these signs or think you may be at risk of getting a heart attack, call 911 or emergency medical aid quickly. Call and try to go in an ambulance instead of driving yourself.
Does Heart Disease Occur Only in Older Women?
No. Women below the age of 60 who have diabetes or have family history of cardiovascular disease should be more concerned about their risk factors. Heart disease may occur at any age and thus women of all ages need to be alert about it.
What Measures Should be Taken to Lower the Risk ?
- Follow a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Stay active and perform regular workout
- Quit smoking
- Reduce or cut off the intake of foods rich in fats and cholesterol
Other than these measures, you may require to take prescribed drugs and medications regularly. This may include aspirin, blood thinners and blood pressure medications. Some women prefer to take supplements (omega-3 fatty acids) for reducing the risk.
So, in all it can be said that the risk factors of heart disease in women can be reduced by taking certain measures and maintaining conditions like high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure that increase your risk for cardiac disorders.
The hour during and after the heart attack is the most critical hour. If the patient is not rendered with prompt medical attention in this hour, the prospects of survival are decreased with every passing minute. Some heart attacks are intense and sudden, whereas most attacks begin gradually with mild discomfort or pain. In most cases, victims aren’t sure what is happening and they wait for too long before getting a medical aid. As with, pain in the center of the heart is one of the prime heart attack symptoms in men as well as women. However, the symptoms of heart attack in men are quite severe as compared to women.
Learn warning signs, but remembers that in case you are not certain it’s a heart attack, prefer checking it out (discuss your symptoms with doctor). Doctors recommend if you experience any of these symptoms to immediately call your emergency response number or dial 911 (always the fastest mode to get life saving aid), so an ambulance can come to take you to the hospital. Minutes matter! Quick action can save lives, may be of your loved ones or your own. Don’t delay in making call for getting emergency medical aid. Emergency medical services (EMS) people are also trained to resuscitate the patient whose heart has stopped working. Patients who arrive by ambulance receive quick treatment at the emergency room.
A heart attack is a medical emergency in which the blood supply to the coronary arteries gets restricted due to the narrowing or blockage in the arteries. This condition is termed as coronary artery disease. Due to the interruption in the supply of oxygen rich blood to the heart, the heart muscles either get damaged or begin to destroy, thus making permanent impairment inevitable. This condition can also be termed as myocardial infarction and was considered a medical emergency that typically develops only men. However, as per latest medical studies, it is been discovered that this condition affects women too. However, they may not develop symptoms as pronounced or critical than those in the case of men. Also, most of the signs that men show may not be seen in women.
Previously, almost all heart attacks were life threatening, but now with the increased awareness and advancement in technology, death rate due to coronary heart disease has come down dramatically. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a device which can help to save the life of the patient when monitored within few minutes of the attack.
What are the Typical Warning Signs ?
Over 60 percent of men who undergo a heart attack experience the warning signs before the heart attack arrives in actual. Often, most men neglect the symptoms, which result into further complications.
Here is a list of some of most common heart attack symptoms in men:
Abnormal Heart Beats: Having irregular heart beats is one of the significant indications for a person suffering from this coronary heart disease. Usually, the rate of heart beats is faster than in normal condition.
Pain in other Parts of the Body: The pain in the chest may extend towards the other body parts too. The patient may experience a sensation of pain in the arms, shoulder, neck, back, jaw or teeth. In some cases, it is observed that a victim may not undergo the chest pain, but get a nagging sensation in the back, arms and shoulder. This pain is mostly confused with a normal pain and thus gets neglected, which gives rise to further complications. Hence, it is crucial to learn that if you experience pain in other body parts except the chest, it should not be neglected at all.
Discomfort in Upper Part of the Stomach: Pressure that is developing in the chest moves down towards the stomach, which results into protracted upper abdomen pain. It can sometimes also be called referred pain in the stomach.
Discomfort: In addition to chest pain, many patients experience discomfort. If you observe both these at a time, call for emergency medical assistance immediately.
Cold Sweating: Abnormal sweating can be an indicator that you may soon experience a heart attack, but often men assume that this can be due to feeling warm. It becomes mandatory to analyze the reason for such condition, so that the person can receive the treatment at the right time and can prevent the extensive damage to the heart.
Fainting: Although there are several reasons behind this condition, heart attack is also one among them. In case if you have observed any other sign for a long period before the episode of fainting, there is a need of immediate move for medical help.
Shortness of Breath or Abnormal Breathing: Due to the insufficient blood supply to the certain heart muscles, they start lacking oxygen and as a result the person suffers from shortness of breath.
Feeling of Being Light-headed: Constant feeling of being light headed can also be considered as a sign of heart attack.
Vomiting and Nausea: Vomiting and nausea are most common in many other medical conditions as well; however, it is also associated with heart attack at some extent. Purging may also involve blood in it. This is also an indication of an impending heart stroke. In this condition, it’s very significant to seek an immediate medical help, as this sign gives an alarm that a heart attack may occur at any time.
Indigestion: This is another sign of heart stroke which is sometimes coupled with the sensation of heartburn.
Anxiety: Many victims may suffer from an emergent attack for no particular reason before a heart stroke.
These are some of the warning signs that alarm a person about the occurrence of a heart attack. The signs and their intensity may differ for each person. As one victim might undergo excruciating pain in the chest, another victim will experience a mild chest pain.
How Heart Attack Symptoms of Men and Women Differ?
Symptoms and signs of heart disease vary noticeably between genders. Women often undergo much subtler signs that are usually overlooked as compared to the signs in men. It is equally significant to understand what women experience as symptoms of heart disease. Although they might experience the typical warning signs, as per the doctors, they often experience some common signs which include heart burn, clammy skin, unusual fatigue and dizziness. The intense pain in chest which is the most common alarming signal of heart attack in men is observed to occur in very few women. The symptoms in men, as discussed above, usually occur during or just before an attack. However, in case of women, this condition differs. They may develop the signs few months before the heart attack.
Men get more vulnerable to undergo this medical condition due to certain factors. They tend to have more serious impediment in the coronary arteries, which hold some blood supply to the heart. This causes severe clotting and impediment of the coronary arteries. Also, over consumption of alcohol and cigarette smoking in men enhance their possibilities of getting susceptible to develop heart diseases.
Heart attack symptoms in men are mostly noticeable and hence they should not be overlooked at all. Prognosis of a patient with heart attack is good if he receives the required treatment within 1 to 2 hours after the initial warning signs. Doctors strongly advise people not to wait for more than 5 minutes and get immediate medical aid or call 911 as soon as they observe any of the symptoms. This is more significant for patients with previous history of heart disease.
Every organ requires oxygen rich blood for its appropriate functioning, and the muscle that covers the heart(myocardium) is no exception. It gets oxygen supply through coronary arteries. When a fatty substance (plaque) gets deposited in the inner wall of the arteries, the diameter of the artery gets reduced and thus creates obstacles in the blood supply to the heart. This process is called atherosclerosis.
In most cases, when the plaque lining gets ruptured, it forms a blood clot which may completely or partially obstruct the blood supply. If the blockage gets enlarged enough, it will completely stop the blood flow, causing the heart muscle cells to die, and this condition gives rise to heart attack. In few cases, a coronary artery spasm restricting the blood supply is also the cause of heart attack.
Typical Causes of Heart Attack that can be Avoided
Increas in the level of cholestrol is an alarming condition for further complications like hardening and thickening of the artereies or atherosclerosis, which can sequentially cause blockage coronary arteris, along with chest pain and ultimately a heart attack. More severe condition can be blockage in the arteries that supply blood to the brain. This may give rise to a stroke and the blocked arteries in the leg may cause limping, pain or disability as well.
Cholesterol is a wax like fatty substance that is naturally available in the human body. It is generally used by the body to create various hormones including bile acids (which help in digesting the fats) and Vitamin D. While certain level of cholesterol is essential, having it in excess may block the arteries that supply blood to the heart and thus increases an individual’s prospects of getting heart disease.
Hypertension or High Blood Pressure
Hypertensive heart disease is a serious medical condition which is normally caused by extended and uncontrolled elevation of blood pressure. This condition may lead to various changes in the coronary vasculature, myocardial structure and conduction system of the heart. Heart attack or heart failure is one of the common complications of this disease.
Another cause of heart disease is Type II diabetes. When a person gains excessive weight, especially due to the intake of sugary stuff and junk food, he/she is prone to develop type two diabetes. People with this disease are at higher risk of heart diseases. The blood flowing into the arteries absorbs the fat present in this food and over time, it starts accumulating around the walls of the arteries. In some cases, the arteries get blocked at such extent that the patient needs to undergo a bypass surgery.
Keeping away from heart disease and diabetes is possible if you follow few things essentially: make sure that you eat the right food that has high nutritious value than calorific value as well as prefer food that have the least amount of cholesterol and sugar. Also, make certain that you stay active by doing some daily workout. If you choose to eat nutritious and less calorific food now, you can stay fit in future as well.
Stress can be categorized into two types: emotional stress and physical stress. Emotional stress is not only responsible for developing heart disease, but it may also cause illness and other diseases as well. The major factor that stress is so likely to cause heart disease is the rush in adrenaline that is a result of severe emotional stress that causes blood to thicken rapidly, thus increasing the risk of heart attacks and other coronary disorder. Physical stress places reproducible and quantifiable demands on the heartand is essential. Lack of physical stress may increase the risk of heart diseases.
Cigarettes have some carcinogens which get absorbed into the flowing blood, making the blood contaminated. The nicotine combines with the blood to thicken it and creates clots. Nicotine also gets deposited into the valves that supply blood to the heart and increases the risk of developing heart diseases. There are several ways to cease smoking, thus reducing your prospects of developing heart diseases. This step will save your health as well as life.
What are the Risk Factors ?
Your prospects of getting a heart attack (myocardial infarction) is generally determined by the number of risk factors you have for atherosclerosis of the coronary artery or coronary artery disease (CAD). You will be amazed to know that there are many risk factors for CAD, and most of them are quite common in Western societies. However, the good news is that many of them are under our control. So we ourselves have a great scope to say about what our chances of getting a heart attack are. The risk factors for heart disease can be categorized into two groups:
1.Those which are controllable
2.Those which are not controllable
Non-Controllable Risk Factors
We have no control on such type of risk factors. They are generally related to age, genes and sex.
- Age above or around 55 for men and over or around 65 for women
- History of chronic kidney disease
- A family history of CAD
- Woman who are post-menopausal or who have got their ovaries removed
Controllable Risk Factors
Although you cannot do much about the non-controllable risk factors, you can greatly reduce your possibilities of getting prone to heart attack by avoiding the following risk factors.
High Cholesterol: Total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels are associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease. These levels in the body can be maintained by avoiding excessive intake of cholesterol.
Obesity or Overweight: Being overweight increases one’s chances of getting heart attack, so try to avoid junk food, fatty food and drink lot of water to balance your metabolism and thus burn your fats.
Smoking: This is string risk factor for people of any age group. Consult your doctor and take remedies to quit smoking.
Hypertension: High blood pressure is one of the critical risk factors for stroke as well as heart attack. This condition can be treated to avoid further complications.
Diabetes: This is also another prime risk factor which is caused due to obesity, elevated sugar levels and other metabolic imbalance. Diabetes can be controlled or treated.
Elevated C- Reactive Protein (CRP): This causes inflammation of blood vessels which may create obstruction in the blood supply to the heart, thus giving rise to atherosclerosis or heart diseases.
Metabolic Syndrome: This syndrome is closely linked with diabetes and can be considered as a form of pre-diabetes.
Psychological Stress: Stress is directly linked to heart diseases.
Additional Risk Factors in Women
There are two more risk factors that are particular in women.
Complicated Pregnancy: Women who have diabetes or high blood pressure (preeclampsia) during pregnancy or those who have delivered low weight babies are at higher risk of getting heart disease.
Using Birth Control Pills: This condition is associated with higher risk of early heart attack. Moreover, when smoking and birth pills get combined, the risk becomes very large. As per the doctor’s recommendation, women who smoke should avoid using birth control pills.
As per the studies, most risk factors of heart attack are controllable and can be reduced by paying little attention to our habits or making few changes in our lifestyle.
Most of us know that heart attack may affect people in different ways. Being aware of the early heart attack symptoms is critical for prompt diagnosis and treatment. Many of these attacks start gradually, unlike the dramatic depiction often seen in movies. Not everyone undergoes that sharp, hitting pain that sends a person down to his knees. However, it doesn’t mean that people who do not face this situation are at less serious condition. It can cause a major damage to the structure as well as functioning of the organ. It is a fact that this medical emergency is one of the prime killers of most people in the United States, which makes it very significant for the people to understand any prodromal warning signs of heart attack.
As per study, deaths due this medical condition is a result of ventricular fibrillation of the heart that takes place before the patient can reach the hospital.Those who can safely reach the hospital have the right prognosis; around 90 percent people come in this category. However, few patients who die latter are those who have undergone major impairment of the heart muscle initially. Fortunately, techniques such as clot dissolving drugs, coronary balloon angioplasty and coronary angiography are available to reinstate blood circulation of the heart by quickly opening the blocked arteries and limiting the damage of the heart muscle. For the victims to get optimal benefit of these techniques and reduce the level of heart damage, identifying the early signs of heart attack is essential.
What are the Pre-heart Attack Signs and Symptoms?
A victim undergoing a heart attack may also be doubtful about the real condition. Signs of this medical condition may vary greatly for each person and even individuals who have already had a heart attack previously may experience different signs is a subsequent one. Prodromal or pre-heart attack signs are those which occur before an attack, usually from about 1 week to 4-6 months before. Some may report these indications up to two years before their attack. While discomfort and pain in chest is the most common indication, most myocardial infarction victims may undergo a variety of symptoms. Common prodromal heart attack symptoms are given below.
Pain and Discomfort in Chest
Prior to heart attack, most victims encounter pain and discomfort in the middle portion of the chest. Both these sensations will be apparent for different people. Some may get a feeling of squeezing and aching in the heart, while some may experience force or pressure on the chest. It can even give a sensation that the chest has engrossed or become full. However, in most cases, this pain and discomfort is not limited to the chest; it is also spread out into the other body parts like back, shoulder, arms, jaw or neck. These signs may last for minutes, hours or longer.
For many people, disruption in sleep can be an early sign. With this particular symptom, a person might feel restless and sleepless. They may also undergo bouts of insomnia, where the victim may have difficulty either in staying asleep or falling asleep. This indication may manifest weeks to months before undergoing a myocardial infraction.
It’s also usual for patients to experience a certain level of respiratory disruption preceding an attack. A person would undergo an uninitiated shortness of breath, meaning this sensation will manifest without any physical exertion or because of some activity that does not create difficulty in breathing.
Since there are certain typical factors that increase the risk of getting a heart attack like coronary artery disease, hypertension, heart defect or a cardiovascular disease, a person may undergo an abnormal level of fatigue. This is largely due to the imbalance in the heart functioning. With any of the mentioned conditions, the heart is experiencing a deprivation in oxygen and blood, or it essentially requires to work harder than usual. When any of this condition is true, it will ultimately take a toll on the victim, and he/she will start feeling fatigue day by day.
Though cognitive distress is not always considered as a sign for myocardial infarction, it can help to warn that this type of medical condition is on the horizon, especially when other early signs are present. In this condition, a person would start to experience certain level of fear or anxiety, mostly surrounding longevity and life.
It happens in most cases that people get confused with severe heartburn and heart attack, as the burning sensation in the chest is present in either condition. However, it’s also possible that indigestion can be an alarming sign of a heart attack.
Habits and Lifestyle
While not essentially an early sign of heart attack, an individual’s lifestyle can contribute largely to this medical emergency. A person’s diet, weight, emotional state and activity level play a vital role in developing symptoms of heart attack. Someone who is obese (overweight) has a sedentary life, smoking habit, high cholesterol level, high blood pressure or is in continually under stress can be at greater risk of getting heart disease.
Few people do not show any symptoms (nearly one fourth of heart attacks are sudden and silent); it means that the victim will not experience chest pain or any other symptom. These types of attacks are particularly common among diabetes mellitus patients. Although the warning signs of myocardial infarction at times can be mild and vague, it is significant to keep in mind that heart attack with mild signs or no signs can be equally severe and forbidding as heart attacks that show serious warning signs.
In most cases, patients attribute this heart attack sign to stress, indigestion or fatigue, and consequently detain in getting immediate medical aid. One cannot over-stress the significance of medical attention after experiencing the warning signs that point towards the presence of a heart attack. Prompt detection and medical attention prevent severe damage to the heart and save lives, while delay in taking medical aid can be life threatening. Your ignorance may cause permanent malfunction of the heart because of huge impairment to the heart muscle.
Too often pain is the early sign of heart attack. This discomfort can range from mild pain to serious crushing discomfort. However, this is not always the initial symptom. Nearly 20 percent of patients do not experience pain. Painless heart attacks usually occur in:
- Diabetic patients
- Older people
Pre-symptoms in the older ages may start with an emergent episode of breathlessness.
Why is Recognizing the Warning Signs of Heart Attack Important?
Most lifesaving treatments such as balloon angioplasty and clot busting work best within the first few hours after a heart attack. Many patients delay in seeking medical aid after observing the signs, and this delay may result into long-lasting damage to the heart or death. Learning to recognize the range of prodromal signs that can be experienced during or before an attack will help you to get quick medical aid and save your life.
If you have doubts about the early heart attack symptoms, consult your doctor to get the best guidance. This way you can learn the things to do as an initial medical aid to save your life.
While heart disease is the major killer of women, most of them often chalk up the signs to less menacing condition like the flu, acid reflux, stomach ailment or normal aging. They do this as they are scared. Many women are still shocked that they could be an heart attack victim. This medical emergency may strike anyone at any time. It occurs when the oxygen rich blood flow to the heart gets decreased or cut off completely. This condition is developed when the arteries that supply blood to the heart becomes gradually harder and thicker due to the deposition of cholesterol, fat and plaque. The first thing that strikes our mind when we think about heart disease is the chest pain. Often, women rarely experience this pain; if they do, they might consider it an tight, heavy, achy feeling instead of pain. Sometimes, the pain can be felt in the back between the shoulders, rather than chest and hence most women ignore it. They might think that these signs are no big deal as it don’t seem like a heart attack. But doctors recommend not to ignore such signs and get an prompt medical attention. Heart attack symptoms in women may vary to some extent than men.
Many women think the symptoms of a heart disease are apparent, but in real they can be perceptive and sometimes confusing. You could suddenly feel shortness in breath, “ as if you ran a marathon”, but in actual you haven’t made a single move. Some women experiencing myocardial infarction describe pressure at the upper back that gives a sense of squeezing or as if they are tied with a rope. Lightheadednesss, actually fainting or dizziness are other alarming signs to look for.
What are the Typical Heart Attack Symptoms in Women?
These chest related signs often appear in men as well, and many women experience them too:
- Discomfort due to chest pain with fainting, lightheadedness, nausea, shortness of breath or sweating
- Squeezing pain, fullness or pressure in the center of the chest, which may move further towards shoulder, neck or jaw
However, many women don’t experience chest pain. As per a circulation study on early signs of heart attack in women, it is found that 43 percent of the 515 women had no acute chest pain. So, chest pain is considered as an hallmark sign in men according to study.
Nevertheless, the evidences from study reference shows that many doctors in emergency room still primarily look for chest pain. Only a few check for the other signs that women usually tend to develop.
According to the circulation study, most significant sign is unusual fatigue- even after adequate sleep. Other signs include:
- Trouble in sleeping or dizziness
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
- Feeling nervous or scared
- Worse headaches
- Lower chest discomfort
- A sense of burning in chest with tightness and heavy
- Feeling stomach ailment
- Back and shoulder pain
- Pressure in upper abdomen or discomfort due to feeling of indigestion
- Pain above the belly button, in the belly
- Tightness or pain in the chest that moves further to the neck, jaw, ear, shoulder and arms.
How to Lower the Risk of Heart Disease ?
After reading all this stuff, don’t get scared, just get a little aware and try to learn how you can cut off your risk of getting prone to heart attack. There are few steps that you can prefer to keep your heart healthy. The very first thing can be visiting your doctor after finding any of these symptoms. Don’t delay!
Many women take an aspirin when they feel they are experiencing the symptoms of heart attack and never call their doctor. In case if you have doubt about the symptoms still call 911 to get immediate medical attention. One shouldn’t ignore a single sign of this medical emergency.
Heart disease is preventable, just adopt the following tips:
- Take an appointment and visit your health care provider to know about your prospects or risk factors of developing a heart disease. You can prefer the heart attack risk calculator to learn your risk.
- Start an workout program. Walking for 30 minutes a day can help you lower you risk of stroke as well as heart attack and will make you stay fit as well.
- Quit smoking..! Are you aware of this that just one year after you quit smoking, you will reduce almost 50 percent chances of getting coronary heart disease.
- Modify your lifestyle, make changes in your diet if required. Prefer some healthy cooking and diet tips that will be helpful to stay away from extra calories and cholesterol. There you can learn healthy snacking ideas, smart substitutions, and better prep ideas. For example, use the light meat(breast) of poultry instead of the fattier meat( thighs and legs), and make sure to take off the skin.
- Find out if heart disease is an hereditary in your family.
- Get your cholesterol level and blood pressure checked often. You might need medicine to maintain level of both.
- Reduce intake of excess salt and control your diabetes.
- Try to manage your stress as being sad, stressed and angry may contribute to your chances of getting heart attack.
- Avoid smoking if you take birth control pills.
- Your doctor can assist you with some medication to cut down the chances of getting another heart attack.
- High blood pressure is considered as the silent killer. Most people have high level of blood pressure, but they do not feel sick. To stay updated with your blood pressure level check it regularly whenever you visit your doctor or clinic.
Although, heart attack symptoms in women mostly confuses with some other less threatening medical conditions, they should be considered on a serious note. If you observe any of the sign that indicates heart disease, make sure to consult your doctor immediately. Have healthy food, stay active and take care of yourself.
When most of us think about heart attack, the first thing that strikes our mind is someone griping their chest due to pain and collapsing on the floor. This is what we see in most of the films as well. While sensation of pain in chest is the most common indication of a heart attack, not everyone experiences the same symptom. As per studies, men are more likely than women to experience chest pain during a heart failure. Most women have so called “atypical” signs, such as nausea, back pain or fatigue. Recent statistics shows that heart attack is an leading killer for both men and women in the United States.
When the heart muscles lack the required blood (and consequently oxygen) it stops working and a heart attack occurs. In medical terms, this condition can be known as cardiac infarction, myocardial infarction and coronary thrombosis. Infarction is the process in which an segment of heart tissue is dead due to failure of blood supply and infarction of a heart muscle segment due to occlusion of a coronary artery results into an heart attack.
In general terms, it can be said that when one of the blood vessels leading towards the heart muscle gets collapsed due to formation of blood clot, a person confronts a heart attack. If the clot is big, it may completely stop the blood flow to the heart. Obstruction in blood supply can also develop due to the sudden narrowing of artery as in spasm.
Common Symptoms of Heart Attack
Chest pain is one of the primary indication or symptom of a heart failure in both women and men. Women generally describe their chest pain as tightness, pressure or an ache, however, they often do not undergo severe pain during an attack; for this reason, a milder chest pain in women should be taken seriously. Usually, a sense of discomfort develops in the center of the chest that continues for more than a few minutes; this sensation is more like tightness, pressure and squeezing.
Other common signs of heart attack includes:
- Pain in other body parts: in this condition one feels as if the pain is traveling from chest towards arms (often towards the left arm, but it may affect both arms as well), neck, abdomen, jaw and the back.
- Shortness of breath (this may occur before or with chest discomfort)
- Feeling of sickness
- An overwhelming feeling of anxiety (similar to panic attack)
- Nausea (sense of discomfort in stomach, sudden dizziness, vomiting or breaking out in cold sweat
- Feeling of light headed
- Wheezing and coughing
- Sleep problems, lack of energy or tiredness (fatigue)
The severity of pain may vary significantly for each individual. For most, the pain is severe and can be described like a huge weight is kept on the chest. While for others, it can be minor and similar to the sense of indigestion. Often older people and diabetic patients do not feel any chest pain. It’s not only the chest pain that is significant in determining whether a person is going to get an heart attack, but it’s the overall pattern of indications.
Why Recognizing Heart Attack Symptoms is Important ?
Some lifesaving heart attack treatments, such as balloon angioplasty and inserting clot busting, work best if used within the initial hours after the attack occurs. Many patients wait for more than two hours after they start observing the symptoms before seeking medical aid. This delay may result in long-lasting heart damage or death. Learning to recognize the extensive range of signs that may be experienced during or before a heart attack will help the person to acquire the right treatment quickly and may even save their life.
Things to do After Observing Heart Attack Symptoms
Do not worry, in case you are doubtful about whether your symptoms indicate a heart attack. Assume that you are experiencing it and dial 911 to call an ambulance immediately. It is the safest way to avoid further complications and save your life.
While waiting for ambulance you need to take some essential steps:
Chest compression : Chest compression can be done by placing both the hands right at the center of the person’s chest. Interlock the fingers of both the hands and press straight down 5cm onto the chest with the heel of the hand. Try to give the chest compressions at a rate 100 compressions per minute. For guidance, you can watch the video available on various medical sites.
Cardiac Arrest: In some sudden cases, cardiac arrest may occur. This is a complicated condition in which the ventricular arrhythmia leads to the heart first getting into spasms and then discontinuing the beats altogether.
Signs of indicating this condition may include:
- A person stops moving
- Appears not to be breathing
- Stops responding to any stimulation, such as being spoken to or touched
In case of cardiac arrest, use the automated external defibrillator (if you have access to it), for rebooting the heart. This is a portable electric device that efficiently helps to restart the heart. If you do not have access to this device, chest compressions can be helpful to reinstate the heart.
Heart attack never occurs without warning, so once you experience any of these symptoms try to follow the given steps and make sure to consult your doctor as early as possible. Do not even avoid the minor symptoms as they may develop complicated or severe later.