How to prevent a heart attack?
Coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease are included in the statistics as leading causes of death. In Hungary, more than 3 million people suffer from hypertension, which is one of the main predisposing factors for the development of cardiovascular diseases. In understanding heart attacks and preventing cardiovascular disease, Dr. Éva Junger, a cardiologist and chief physician at Dr. Rose Private Hospital, helps us to find our way.
During a heart attack, few can tell exactly what is happening in the heart…
A heart attack (also called myocardial infarction) is an acute, life-threatening condition caused by a blockage in one or more of the coronary arteries that supply the heart muscle. Depending on how big an area is affected, some heart muscle function is lost, thereby weakening the heart muscle, leading to heart failure, complications, arrhythmias, circulatory collapse, or even sudden death.
What are the symptoms of a heart attack?
The typical symptoms are almost unmistakable: there is very strong and painful tightness in the chest, along with a cold sweat, shortness of breath, and feeling weak. The pain may radiate to the middle of the back, to the arms, or to the neck, although often these typical symptoms manifest in a different form, in a milder way.
What to do if symptoms occur?
It is very important that if someone experiences such symptoms and the pain does not cease and they feel ill, wait no longer than 20 minutes and call an ambulance immediately because every minute counts in saving the heart’s muscle tissue.
If the patient is taken to a cardiac catheterization laboratory at the appropriate time, the occluded artery can be opened, thereby saving the affected area. The time available for such measures is very short, but within 3-4 hours there is a chance that the heart attack can be stopped without necrosis of the heart tissue. Beyond that, the patient’s condition can be improved, albeit with the development of residual symptoms.
Heart attacks are treatable, and in the last 20 years an extensive network has developed in Hungary so that blocked coronary arteries can be opened in cardiac catheterization laboratories as soon as possible. Surveys show that this cardiac catheterization network works well, but it can only help if the patient arrives in the right time interval, and not wait for hours before going to the hospital.
How do we know if we are at high risk for cardiovascular disease?
Symptoms of a heart attack do not usually strike like lightning as there can be warning signs, and there are risk factors that contribute to the development of a heart attack. The three most important risk factors are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking, but alongside these, family predisposition, obesity, diabetes, male gender, and stress are also risk factors, among others. In addition, there are laboratory abnormalities, a susceptibility to thrombosis, which also contribute to the development of the disease.
When are cardiovascular screening tests recommended?
Anyone with a family history of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, or stroke, is advised to think about the risk factors listed above that may play a role in their own development of cardiovascular disease.
What can we do to prevent cardiovascular disease?
As far as the results of extended screening tests reveal which are our main risk factors, we can work out our appropriate prevention strategy from among the following:
- striving for a healthy lifestyle
- quitting smoking
- maintaining a normal body weight
- regular, moderate, dynamic exercise (3-4 times a week, for at least 150 minutes)
- Mediterranean diet
- normal, optimal blood pressure (around 130/80 mm Hg)
- ideal cholesterol level
- proper maintenance of blood sugar levels
- adherence to medication if necessary
At Dr. Rose Private Hospital, we put together an extended cardiovascular screening package to detect individual risk factors, as well as to detect early signs of possible cardiovascular, cerebrovascular atherosclerosis, and lower extremity vasoconstriction. With treatment based on the results of screening tests, we can prevent more serious conditions by changing our lifestyle appropriately. We must always bear in mind that with the help of medication and lifestyle changes, we can prevent more serious conditions from developing. We prevent heart attacks and prevent strokes, which affect not only our own but also our family’s quality of life.
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