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What happens to our body when there is a heart attack?

Heart is a significant organ in our bodies. Even now, while you are reading this, the heart beats in your body and keeps you alive. However, approximately 7 million people around the world die from heart attacks every year and cardiovascular disease which causes heart attacks and other problems like strokes. It is known to be the world’s leading killer. People often describe heart attacks as ‘silent killer’ as it can happen to someone without a warning. So what exactly happens to out body when our heart stops?

What causes a heart attack?

Similar to other muscles, oxygen is significant to the heart. Heart attack is mainly caused when the heart cannot receive enough oxygen. The process of this is when plaques, also known as fatty depostis, develop on the walls of coronary arteries which are the vessels that supply oxygenated blood (red blood cell) to the heart. As humans grow, the plaques also grow which can turn into blockages. If one of the plaques rupture, in minutes there would be a blood clot form, which will completly block the artery. Therefore, the blood flow is completly cut off to the cardiac muscle, the heart muscle will begin to die. The injured muscle would not be able to pump blood as well and in the worst scenario, it can cause sudden death. Other risk factors are diabetes, high-blood pressure and high cholesterol.


What are the symptops of heart attack?

The most common symptom is chest pain, in the center or the left side of the chest caused by the oxygen deprived muscle. It can last for more than few minuted or go away and come back. Patients describe this pain as crushing, squeezing or vice-like. There can also be pain in the jaw, neck or the back. Some people experience nausea or shortness of breath. Symptoms may very through out the age and gender. For women and elderly, weakness and tried ness may be the main signal. In many people, especially with diabetes, heart attack may be silent.


How do doctors treat people with heart attacks?

In the emergency room, doctors can diagnose a heart attack with an electrocardiogram. They also carry out a blood test to assess heart muscle damage. Then the patient will be taken to a high-tech cardiac suite where tests are done to locate the blockages. After cardiologists locate the blocckages, they can either reopen the blocked artery by inflating it with a balloon, a procedure called as an angioplasty. After the artery has been unblocked, they insert a metal or polymer stent that will keep the artery open. However in more extensive blockages it can require coronary artery bypass surgery which uses another a piece of vein or artery from another part of the body to reroute the blood from around the blockage. These procedures will reestablish circulation to the cardiac muscle restoring the heart function.


What are the preventions can you do to lower risk of heart attack?

Genetics and lifestyle both affect the risk of heart attack. To lower the risk, doctors recommend excercising a few times a week regularly and a low in sugar and saturated fats diet. Foods that are recommended are chicken and fish instead of red meat, meals with lots of fibre as well as whole grains and nuts like walnuts and almonds. A good diet with plenty of exercise can help your weight stay in a healthy range which will lower your heart attack risk. In addition, medications for preventions can also help those who haven’t yet had a heart attack. Heart attacks may be common but there is no reason to worry about it. Just remeber, a healthy diet, staying fit, enjoying plenty of sleep and lots of laughter all play an important role in making sure your body’s most important muscle keeps on beating.

Written by Jihyo



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