Heart Attacks & Solutions

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Learn the basics of heart attacks and how they're treated.

• Health: Medical

You don't have to know much about heart attacks to know that you don't want to experience one. But what exactly is a heart attack and what is done to treat them?

What Is A Heart Attack

A myocardial infarction, or heart attack, occurs when blood stops flowing to part of the heart muscle. Most people feel this as a chest pain or discomfort that can travel to the shoulders and arms. It can even be felt, as pain, in the back, neck, or jaw as well. In many cases, the pain will last for several minutes.

Other symptoms can include the pain feeling like heartburn, nausea, a cold sweat, and feeling tired.

What Cause A Heart Attack

A heart attack can occur when one of your coronary arteries becomes blocked. For example, if your body has an excess of "bad" LDL Cholesterol (see Cholesterol - The Good, Bad, And Ugly), that can lead to deposits, know as plaque, that build up in your arteries over time.

If that plaque build up ruptures, it can spill cholesterol into your blood stream. A blood clot can them form at that spot and completely block the blood flow through the coronary artery. This is the most common cause of a heart attack and a big reason why heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. That's right, more people in the USA die from heart disease than cancer!

A heart attack can also be caused by a spasm of the coronary artery that then shuts down the flow of blood to the heart. Drugs and tobacco use can use this type of heart attack.

Heart Disease Solutions

The best solution is always prevention. Keeping your cholesterol levels in check (did you read Cholesterol - The Good, Bad, And Ugly yet?) along with proper diet and exercise is the easiest and smartest solution.

But what if things are already bad, what can doctors do?

This is a surgical procedure where the doctor inserts a hollow tube into the blocked artery. The end of that tube has a tiny balloon on it. The doctor inflates the balloon to essentially squish the plaque build up against the artery walls. This then widens the path for blood to flow through again.

A stent is a tube made out of a wire mesh material. It's inserted using the angioplasty process described above. When the balloon is inflated, it locks the stent in place. Meaning, it stays in your body. You're now part machine, and not in a good way.

Bypass Surgery
Ever taken a detour from one road to another to get around a traffic jam? That's basically what bypass surgery is. A doctor will take a small piece of blood vessel from another part of your body and use it to route blood flow around a blockage. Sound severe? It is.

Heart Health

So what's they to avoid a myocardial infarction? Well, there are plenty of drugs on the market to help with various health issues, including heart issues. Maybe these are a good solution for some, but the better option is to improve your health so these drugs aren't needed. There is no magic bullet here, a proper lifestyle is the key and that includes a good diet and plenty of exercise.

Start by reading A Healthy Lifestyle - Where Do You Start?, Are Processed Foods Bad For Your Health?, Choosing A Diet Of The Healthiest Vegetables, and Finding The Right Balance For Optimal Health. Then maybe eat a salad like Matt's Miracle Salad Recipe. Then get outside and go for a walk. You have to start somewhere.