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Heart Health

Heart attacks are the foremost of the big killers in later life, now occurring in women almost as often as in men.

Demographics of Heart Disease

Heart disease accounts for nearly one half of all deaths each year in Britain.  300,000 people in the UK suffer a heart attack every year, half of which are fatal. 70% of those who die do so before they reach hospital.  There are 2 million people in the UK with angina, half of them under 60.  Nearly one third of those who have a heart attack will go on to have a stroke within the following 2 months

Causes of Heart Disease

A heart attack refers to the acute damage of heart muscle from an impaired blood supply and lack of oxygen. It usually causes pain or tightness in  the chest and left shoulder. Heart Attacks are precipitated by smoking, excessive stress, and high blood pressure which lead to thrombo-emboli from disrupted fatty plaques in the walls of arteries. Arterial damage is a long-term consequence of a diet high in saturated fats, especially in those who are genetically predisposed.

Other forms of heart muscle disease are infectious (bacteria, virus, Rickettsia), dietery (beri-beri), and associated with alcohol excess or toxins.  Disordered heart rhythms are also associated with muscle damage, thyroid disease and stress. Certain arrhythmias, particularly of the ventricles (ventricular tachycardia) may lead to death.

Prevention of heart disease should start early, some would say in the womb.

A quick way to measure cardiac risk:

Did your parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles have a heart attack before 60?

How old were your parents when they died?

Do you smoke?

If the answer is ‘Yes’ to two of these three questions risk of heart disease is high.

Investigation includes blood tests: clotting factors, lipids, blood sugar, homocysteine and C-Reactive Protein; an exercise ECG stress test, and perhaps an ultra-sound of the main neck and groin arteries.  From these tests it is possible to predict the risk of an acute heart attack.

A good diet is essential for good heart health

Lifestyle are the best way to reduce the risk of a heart attack.  

What changes are needed?

Here are seven things you can do:

1. Exercise more (not less than 30 minutes 4 times a week)

2. Eat well (good nutrition  rather than simply low calories)

3. Achieve the right weight (this will follow 1 and 2 above)

4. Get your blood pressure down to 120/80 if you can (monitor it yourself)

5. Keep stress levels manageable

6. Stop smoking (the prize is added years to your life!)

and, Oh Yes,

7. Take the pills you’ve agreed to take (about 15% of people don’t!)

What are the Pills that help heart disease?

Antioxidants counter cell damage from free radicals.

Pills for high blood pressure include:

Statins fix the plaques so they don’t break down and may lead them to regress.

Aspirin its anti-inflammatory action reduces vascular damage. It also thins blood which has become sticky.