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Lajnah Kebajikan & Kemasyarakatan PAS Negeri Selangor

FAQ On Your Heart

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What is a heart attack?

A heart attack is a condition where one or more of the coronary arteries are blocked. These arteries running on the surface of the heart provide oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscles. Deprived of blood supply, the muscle cells (termed myocytes) will die eventually if blood flow is not restored.

Someone experiencing a heart attack will be unwell and usually complain of severe constricting chest pain associated with sweating, shortness of breath and giddiness or feeling faint.

It is important to seek immediate medical advice if you think you are having a heart attack. Modern treatment is aimed at restoring blood flow as soon as feasible either by infusion of clot-busting medicine or by balloon inflation.


What risk factors are responsible for heart attack ?

The underlying problem responsible for heart attack is a disease process involving the wall of these arteries (medically called atherosclerosis). Gradual deposition of cholesterol and calcium leads to progressive narrowing of these arteries. There are five major risk factors;

                  Smoking

                  High blood pressure

                  High cholesterol

                  Diabetes

                  Family history of coronary heart disease

There are other additional risk factors such as stress, lack of exercise and overweight. The more risk factors you have, the higher is your risk to have coronary artery disease and heart attack.


Can you have coronary artery disease without knowing it?

Yes you can. The majority of patients with coronary artery disease will have chest pain, especially during exertion. If you live a sedentary life with minimal or no exercise, you may not have any chest pain. Some 5 to 10% of patients truly has no chest pain even with very bad disease. This is a dangerous situation.

It is not a bad idea to have a routine treadmill stress test after the age of 45 to detect coronary artery disease. Blockage in the coronary artery may not manifest itself at rest.


What is the effect of smoking on the heart?

Smoking is a health hazard in many ways. It causes lung cancers and many other forms of cancer. To the heart, smoking is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease. Smoking causes increases in heart rate and high blood pressure. The internal lining of coronary arteries will be damaged and predisposes to further deposition of cholesterol in its wall.

The risk is associated with the duration and quantity of cigarettes smoked.


I have high cholesterol level despite being thin and on a low cholesterol diet. Why is this so ?

Cholesterol level has no direct relation to body weight although the higher you weigh, the higher is the likelihood that your cholesterol level will be high too.

Cholesterol in blood comes from two sources. Firstly, cholesterol is produced by your own liver as cholesterol is an important component of cellular integrity and processes (making cell wall and hormones for example). Secondly it comes from the foods that we eat. Cholesterol level can be high because of high liver production (inherited) or high cholesterol intake or both.

If your cholesterol level is still high despite strict dietary control, it is most likely due to increased liver production. Your doctor will prescribe you regular exercises and a drug called statin to lower the liver production of cholesterol.


My doctor mentioned something about good and bad cholesterols. I thought all cholesterols are bad.

Cholesterol is needed for normal function. It is the excess cholesterol that is detrimental.

There are several subgroups of cholesterol, being divided by its size and components. The bad cholesterol (called LDL-cholesterol) are bigger molecules that can be deposited in the wall of arteries and causes atherosclerosis, the cause of coronary artery disease. The good cholesterol (called HDL-cholesterol) are smaller molecules that scavenge for bad cholesterol. Higher level of good cholesterol will remove higher level of bad cholesterol from circulation.

Regular exercises and good dietary control will increase the level of good cholesterol. Statin drugs will also raise good cholesterol level.


I am 45 years old and do not have any history of medical problems. I rarely see a doctor. Can I assume that I have a healthy heart?

General rules apply - never assume. Some risk factors may be present without you realizing it. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are largely silent, with no signs. Similarly, narrowing and blockages in the arteries could be silent or not obvious at low level of activities.

It is a wise investment to undergo at least some blood tests and a treadmill stress test routinely once a year once you go past 45.


Can coronary artery disease be treated?

Yes, but as always, prevention is much better. Depending on the severity of the narrowing and blockages, there are usually 3 modalities of treatment. Mild degree of narrowing will usually treated with medications only. If the narrowing is more significant, a balloon angioplasty (doctors call them PTCA) may be performed. For severe disease involving many coronary vessels, a bypass surgery will be required.

How often should I exercise to positively affect my health?

Any amount of exercise is good for health. If you are exercising for your heart, the traditional wisdom is to do it at least three times per week, each session lasting 30 to 40 minutes. The best forms of exercise for the heart are brisk walking, light jogging, swimming or cycling. These activities are called aerobic activities and are of moderate but constant intensity.

 

Source : Insititut Jantung Negara

6C, Tingkat 3, Blok 1, Jalan Tinju 13/50, Pusat Perniagaan Worldwide, 40000 Shah Alam, Selangor Darul Ehsan. Tel : 03-5518 4530 Faks : 03-5513 4323

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