New Telegraph

When the heart comes under ‘’attack’’!

The scene

The Speaker of a State House of Assembly in the South western part of the country suddenly slumped and died some months ago. It was gathered that he reportedly drove himself from his office at the State House of Assembly Complex, to his official lodge (a short distance away) on a Thursday evening. But on his way, he was said to have felt uncomfortable, which made him to drive to a Specialist Hospital, where he was said to have been given some drugs. He reportedly drove back home and was fine till Friday morning when the attack occurred, autopsy conducted was said to have confirmed the diagnosis of a Heart attack.

What it is

A heart attack (myocardial infarction or MI) is a serious medical emergency in which the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot. It happens when a blood vessel in the heart suddenly becomes blocked. Blood vessels carry blood and oxygen. When a blood vessel in the heart gets blocked, blood cannot get to a part of the heart. This part of the heart does not get enough oxygen. This is called ischemia. When the heart muscle becomes ischemic (does not get enough blood and oxygen), the ischemia often causes chest pain. This is called Angina Pectoris. If the ischemia lasts long enough, the heart muscle that is not getting enough oxygen dies. This is called an infarction. “Myocardial infarction” means “infarction (muscle death) in the heart muscle.”


A heart attack occurs when one or more of the coronary arteries become blocked. Over time, a coronary artery can narrow from the buildup of various substances, including cholesterol (atherosclerosis). This condition, known as coronary artery disease, causes most heart attacks.

During a heart attack, one of these plaques can rupture and spill cholesterol and other substances into the bloodstream. A blood clot forms at the site of the rupture. If large enough, the clot can completely block the flow of blood through the coronary artery. Another cause of a heart attack is a spasm of a coronary artery that shuts down blood flow to part of the heart muscle. Use of tobacco and of illicit drugs, such as cocaine, can cause a life-threatening spasm. A heart attack can also occur due to a tear in the heart artery (spontaneous coronary artery dissection).

Factors that put one at risk

Certain factors contribute to the unwanted buildup of fatty deposits (atherosclerosis) that narrows arteries throughout the body. You can improve or eliminate many of these risk factors to reduce your chances of having a first or subsequent heart attack. Heart attack risk factors include: • Age. Men age 45 or older and women age 55 or older are more likely to have a heart attack than are younger men and women.

• Tobacco. Smoking and long-term exposure to second hand smoke increase the risk of a heart attack.

• High blood pressure. Over time, high blood pressure can damage arteries that feed the heart by accelerating atherosclerosis. High blood pressure that occurs with obesity, smoking, high cholesterol or diabetes increases your risk even more.

• High blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

A high level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) is most likely to narrow arteries. A high level of triglycerides, a type of blood fat related to diet, also ups the risk of heart attack. However, a high level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) lowers the risk of heart attack.

• Diabetes. Insulin, a hormone secreted by your pancreas, allows the body to use glucose, a form of sugar. Having diabetes — not producing enough insulin or not responding to insulin properly — causes the body’s blood sugar levels to rise. Diabetes, especially uncontrolled, increases the risk of a heart attack.

• Family history of heart attack. If your siblings, parents or grandparents have had early heart attacks (by age 55 for male relatives and by age 65 for female relatives), you may be at increased risk.

• Lack of physical activity. An inactive lifestyle contributes to high blood cholesterol levels and obesity. People who get regular aerobic exercise have better cardiovascular fitness, which decreases their overall risk of heart attack. Exercise is also beneficial in lowering high blood pressure.

• Obesity. Obesity is associated with high blood cholesterol levels, high triglyceride levels, high blood pressure and diabetes. Losing just 10 percent of your body weight can lower this risk, however.

• Stress. You may respond to stress in ways that can increase your risk of a heart attack.

• Illegal drug use. Using stimulant drugs, such as cocaine or amphetamines, can trigger a spasm of your coronary arteries that can cause a heart attack.

• A history of preeclampsia. This condition causes high blood pressure during pregnancy and increases the lifetime risk of heart disease.

• A history of an autoimmune condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other autoimmune conditions can increase the risk of having a heart attack. A history of an autoimmune condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other autoimmune conditions can increase the risk of having a heart attackHowever, not all people who have heart attacks have the same symptoms or have the same severity of symptoms. Some people have mild pain; others have more severe pain. Some people have no symptoms, while for others, the first sign may be sudden cardiac arrest.

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