The president of the American Heart Association, Dr John Warner, had a minor heart attack recently during a scientific conference held in California. Dr Warner was stented immediately. Dr Warner’s father and his grandfather had heart bypass surgery while in their 60s. He also lost his maternal grandfather and a great grandfather to heart disease. Being a doctor does not make a person immune to a possible heart attack. In fact, doctors may be more at risk due to stress.
Irrespective of the profession, it is imperative to not ignore a strong family history of heart attack or heart diseases in general. Research indicates that siblings with one parent that had experienced a heart attack were 48% more likely to have one. Those with two parents with history of heart attack were nearly 6 times more likely to have a heart attack.
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said:
The warning signs of a heart attack include chest discomfort, upper body pain, shortness of breath. Most people experience an unusual feeling that begins at the center of the chest and radiates out. The discomfort, which can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain, can last for more than a few minutes or go away and come back. Sometimes people have discomfort or pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. Women, just like men, commonly experience chest pain or discomfort when a heart attack strikes and are more likely than men to suffer other symptoms, such as shortness of breath. Timely consultation with a doctor and treatment at this stage can avert the onset of disease in many cases, which may be potentially life-threatening in some cases.
When a plaque in a heart artery breaks, a blood clot forms around the plaque. This blood clot can block the blood flow through the heart muscle. When the heart muscle is starved for oxygen and nutrients, it is called ischemia. Damage or death of part of the heart muscle due to ischemia is called a heart attack.
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, Group Editor, IJCP, said:
Those with a family history of heart attack should begin taking preventive measures and precautions at a very early stage. This includes eating a heart-healthy diet composed of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids; regular physical activity; and quitting smoking or drinking.
To live above the age of 80 without a heart attack, one needs to have ideal health parameters and lifestyle. Both can be remembered with the formula of 80. It is advisable to maintain fasting blood sugar (FBS) (mg%), bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) bad cholesterol (mg/dL), diastolic lower blood pressure (mm Hg), resting heart rate, and abdominal girth (cm) all below 80. Apart one should also keep the kidney and lung functions above 80%.