Share this Image On Your Site
What is a heart attack?
A heart attack happens when the coronary arteries supplying the muscles of the heart are blocked, resulting in the heart muscles being deprived of oxygen and nutrients. This will result in muscle death - and a sudden deterioration of heart functions. It is potentially fatal.
1. Cut the bad habit of smoking
Smoking is one of the top risk factor for heart attack. If you smoke, your chance of dying from a heart attack is 2-3 times greater than that of a person who does not smoke. It is a major cause of cardiovascular disease ( CVD ) and causes approximately one out of every four deaths from CVD, according to the 2014 American Surgeon General’s Report.
Even people who smoke fewer than 5 cigarettes a day may show signs of early cardiovascular disease. The risk of CVD increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day, and when smoking continues for many years.
Even the exposure to second hand smoke can increase your risk of heart attack. More than 33,000 non-smokers die every year in the States from coronary heart disease from exposure to second hand smoke.
Smokers who quit start to improve their heart health and reduce their risk for heart attack immediately. Your risk of having a heart attack is reduced by 50% after 2 years of quitting and 15 years after quitting, your risk of heart attack is similar to that of a person who never smoked before.
2. Lose weight the natural way through diet and exercise
Obesity has already been proven to increase the risk of diseases like heart attack, stroke, hypertension and diabetes. Obese patients who can reduce 10% of their initial weight can experience significant reductions in risk of heart attack.
So how do we lose weight the natural way?
Work on your diet
Firstly, reduce your carbohydrate. In our Asian context, it can be as simple as reducing your rice intake by 20-30%, reduce your noodles intake by 20-30% and cut down on sugar intake by drinking plain water.
If you have to take tea or coffee, don’t put any sugar in them. Stop drinking all sodas and flavoured bottled or can drinks. Increase your intake of fibre by taking more fruits and vegetables.
We know that vegetables and fruits are rich sources of vitamin C and beta-carotene. These compounds are potent anti-oxidants that prevent the build up of plaques within our heart arteries. Examples of Vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables are broccoli, red peppers, strawberries , oranges and kiwis. Fruits and vegetables that are orange or red tend to have high beta-carotene contents, for example carrots, tomatoes, grapefruits
In addition, fruits and vegetables are very low in calories, they are full of fibre and fill up your stomach rapidly - making you feel fuller faster and overall reducing your calorie intake.
A research published online November 12 2017 by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that those who ate nuts - such as peanuts, walnuts, almonds and cashew on a daily basis had a much lower risk of developing heart attack compared to people who rarely or never ate nuts. Which type of nuts you eat do not matter but eating more and eating often makes a difference. For example, eating just one serving of walnuts daily ( which is about two handful of walnuts ), five times a week was associated with a 21% lower risk of coronary artery disease.
Eating similar amount of peanuts and cashew daily also reduced your risk of coronary artery disease by similar percentage.
Exercise is also crucial in the journey in weight loss
The health promotion board Singapore recommends at least 150 minutes of exercise a week to maintain good health.
You can start from as low as 10-15 minutes a day and work your way up. Be persistent, be disciplined. Don’t give up. Any exercise is good. Brisk walking, jogging, running, Yoga, HIIT. View more of our fitness programs here.
3. Sleep well and manage your stress
It has been proven that adults who sleep less than 7 hours each night are more likely to suffer from heart attack. They are also at a higher risk of getting diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
Stress from various sources in life can also be a contributing factor for heart disease.
Learn to identify your stress and manage them.
4. Regular health screening
Generally the recommendation is for regular health screening for adults age more than 40. Adults between 18 - 39 years old can also go for health screening if they have strong family history or are obese.
As hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes and obesity are major risk factor for heart attack, yearly screening for these conditions are vital to detect them early and to treat them.
Hypertension and high cholesterol are silent killers as they almost always have no symptoms till its too late. Go for yearly regular health screen with your family physician for a peace of mind.
5. Manage your chronic conditions well
If you are already diagnosed with chronic medical conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol , diabetes , then your risk of heart attacks will be high. It is crucial that treatment be started for your conditions and regular follow up be done to ensure that you are on track to maintain good health. Form an engaging relationship with your family physician.
6. Recognise the symptoms early and seek medical attention promptly
What are some of the warning signs that you may be suffering from early heart attack?
These are symptoms of chest pain, or dull aches of chest or a compressive feeling of the chest that may be triggered by
- exertion or exercise
- reduced by resting
- lasts usually not more than 5 minutes
- pain is recurring problem
These usually indicates that the coronary arteries are moderately obstructed.
These are symptoms of chest pain or dull aches or compressive feelings with shortness of breath
- that are out of the ordinary
- lasts longer, sometimes > 30 minutes
- may not be triggered by exertion or exercise
- doesn’t go away even with rest
Some other symptoms may include
- shortness of breath
- excessive sweating or cold sweats even when you are not exercising
- fatigue, light headedness or giddiness
- sometimes just nausea and heartburn symptoms
Do recognize these symptoms and consult your doctor urgently.
By : Dr Chen Yiming
Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)