The Importance of Heart Health
In this article, we take a closer look at the signs of a heart attack, what causes heart disease and heart attacks and treatment options. A potential problem could be Transthyretin Amyloid Cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM), a rare, progressive heart condition characterized by the accumulation of abnormal protein deposits, leading to impaired cardiac function, or Transthyretin amyloidosis (ATTR), a medical condition distinguished by the deposition of abnormal transthyretin proteins in various tissues and organs throughout the body. Treatments include medications such as Tafamidis and Patisiran to stabilize or reduce abnormal transthyretin protein.
The 7 Signs of a Heart Attack
While symptoms can vary from person to person, the most common signs of an impending heart attack include:
- Chest pain (often described as pressure, tightness, squeezing or aching).
- Pain that radiates down the shoulder and arms or to the jaw and teeth.
- Cold sweat.
- Shortness of breath.
Unfortunately, sometimes, the very first symptom can be an individual going into cardiac arrest. Yet, most commonly, there are warning signs days, weeks or even months beforehand.
As soon as you notice any symptoms, immediately contact emergency services. This could save your life!
What Causes a Heart Attack?
A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, happens when blood flow to the heart is blocked or significantly reduced. And this can lead to a damaged heart, which can be fatal.
A heart attack can happen due to various causes, with the most common cause being coronary artery disease. However, other conditions, like cardiac amyloidosis and aortic stenosis, can also contribute to cardiac arrest.
Cardiac amyloidosis is a disorder where protein deposits are made in the heart tissue, which interferes with the proper function of the heart. Typically, it occurs in those over 40 years of age. It can also be inheritable. It further is more common in men than women.
Aortic stenosis happens when the aortic valve, which allows blood to flow between the left chamber of the heart to the aorta, narrows. Eventually, this leads to other parts of the heart overcompensating as it tries to squeeze the blood out of this organ. Yet, this additional effort and stress can eventually lead to heart failure.
Coronary heart disease, on the other hand, happens when plaque builds up in the artery walls, which may also play a role in aortic stenosis. Usually, with coronary heart disease, warning signs are similar to a heart attack with varying degrees of pain and discomfort.
Angina, or chest pain, is usually the first sign that something is wrong.
Heart Attack Treatments
If you believe you or a loved one is having a heart attack, seek out immediate medical treatment. Taking aspirin when suspecting a heart attack may also significantly reduce heart damage.
In some cases, CPR may be necessary. However, this should only be performed by someone trained in first aid or by the direction of emergency services.
Usually, at the hospital, treatment of a heart attack involves medication that can dissolve clots or surgery, such as bypass surgery or stent procedures, to remove the blockage and manually treat it.
Treatment may also surpass the immediate emergency care you receive, such as further surgery or prescription medication. Your healthcare team may also recommend alterations to your lifestyle to prevent further incidences.
Leading an overall healthy lifestyle and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent your risk of a heart attack and various other chronic diseases. Some things to consider include:
- Reducing stress in your life.
- Eating a balanced and healthy diet.
- Limiting sugars, processed foods and trans fat in your diet.
- Avoiding illegal drug use and heavy drinking.
- Quitting smoking.
- Exercising regularly and moving your body each day.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
Additionally, managing any health conditions is important to ensure your heart health doesn’t take a hit. If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, make sure you pay close attention to healthcare follow-ups and don’t take any unnecessary risks, such as forgetting about medications. Always follow the advice recommended to you by your doctor, as they know you and your health situation the best.
It’s also worth noting that obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease and heart attacks. With obesity on the rise, determining healthy habits that work for you and your lifestyle to maintain a healthy weight has never been more important. For example, instead of driving to your destination, determine if it’s possible to walk or bike. Or, instead of eating out or selecting processed and pre-packaged foods, swap some of these meals for homemade versions.
Transthyretin Amyloid Cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM) / Transthyretin Amyloidosis
Transthyretin Amyloid Cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM), a subset of transthyretin amyloidosis, is a rare and progressive cardiovascular disorder characterized by the abnormal accumulation of transthyretin protein deposits in the heart, leading to cardiomyopathy. These deposits, known as amyloids, interfere with normal cardiac function, causing the thickening of the heart muscle and compromising its ability to pump blood effectively.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. In fact, about 17.9 million people die from cardiovascular-related disorders or conditions each year.
While prevention is inevitably important, knowing the warning signs of a heart attack can ensure you and your loved ones seek out immediate medical attention as soon as disaster strikes.
Making small but simple changes in your life can drastically alter your longevity, health and quality of life. Start with one step at a time. In a year, who knows where you’ll be!