Heart Disease Risk – What? Me Worry???

NurseBob

Bob

I’ve been talking about heart attacks, what the symptoms are, how the symptoms may differ between men and women, what they actually are, what causes them, and what may happen as a result.  Now it’s time to talk about risk factors for developing heart disease. Continue reading

Heart Attack! What is it? What causes it? What’s going to happen to me?

NurseBob

Bob

What is a Heart Attack? My very short description would be: A reduction, or complete loss of blood flow to some or all of the heart, which causes the heart tissue to begin to die. The longer the loss of flow lasts, the more tissue that dies.
Pretty general, don’t you think? Doesn’t tell you much, such as what caused it, or more importantly, what’s going to happen to you.  The flippant answer to that one is: It Depends…  As always, the devil is in the details.  What does it depend on? Well, what caused the loss of flow? How  complete is the is the loss of flow?  How much of your heart is affected?   How healthy is your heart?  How healthy are you? Continue reading

Famous Last Words: “I Think It’s Just Heartburn” – Heart Attack Symptoms for Men

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NurseBob

NurseBob

Ok guys, this is not the time to be macho, “play with pain,” or otherwise tough-it-out. Better safe than sorry may well be a life-saver. While it may be mildly embarrassing to visit the emergency department only to find out it was the “7 jalapeno taco special,” there is no practical way for you to self-diagnose and determine that the pain is not from your heart crying-out that it’s dying.  Not unless you have an EKG machine out in the home workshop, and know how to read the results…

So, what’s the deal?  Time is muscle – that is, the longer you play with pain, pain which can indicate the muscle cells are dying, the more of your heart muscle is permanently lost, to be replaced by useless scar tissue, a bulging weak spot in your heart.

What causes the pain, you ask?  The heart muscle, similar to other muscles in your body, likes to “burn” glucose to stoke its fires.  To effectively do so, it needs BOTH glucose and oxygen.  That particular metabolic pathway makes very efficient use of all the energy stored in that simple sugar.  Where does it get both the fuel and the oxidizer from?  The blood!  What happens when there’s no blood? Maybe there’s a small clot in one of the little arteries supplying a small section of the heart (if you’re lucky).  Just like kinking a hose, nothing flows past, no blood, no glucose, no oxygen.  What’s a lonely, starving little heart cell to do? It tries to use it’s emergency supplies!  It uses glycogen (a stored form of glucose), and breaks it down for the contained energy without using oxygen.

While the large skeletal muscle cells have a relatively large supply of glycogen, the heart muscle cells don’t.  So they burn through their stores very quickly.  By the way, when your other muscles switch over to this alternative pathway (anaerobic – no oxygen) and burn glycogen, one of the byproducts is lactic acid – which is responsible for the “burn” when you exercise heavily.  That “burn” is a component of chest pain.  The difference between heart and skeletal muscle?  In the heart, the burn is almost instant – as opposed to the large muscles where it takes some time to develop.  This burn is your early warning, because shortly after, the cells begin to die, and for all intents and purposes, they are not replaced with new muscle cells, just scar tissue.

So, what are the classic heart attack symptoms for men?
Shortness of Breath
Chest discomfort – “uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
(Which may include the jaw, or arm)
Cold sweat
Nausea
Lightheadedness


Want to know more?
WebMD – Heart Attack Symptoms In Men
American Heart Association – 911 Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
Cardiovascular Physiology Concepts – Myocardial Metabolism
SportsMedicine – Lactic acid does more than cause fatigue


Stay Well -NurseBob

Visit my Video Blog for more health information.


References Reviewed

Women are Atypical… Heart Attack Symptoms


NurseBob

NurseBob

If you’re feeling unusually tired, or short of breath, experiencing a nagging back-ache between the shoulder blades, is your first thought  – “Gee, I wonder if I’m having a heart attack?”  For the average woman, probably not.  Due to the research focus on men over the last several decades, based on a now identified erroneous assumption that men and women were the same, at least as far as heart attack symptoms were concerned, there was an unintentional bias in both the reporting and descriptions of  “typical” heart attack symptoms.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, and while heart attacks are not the only thing “heart disease” relates to, they are certainly a significant item on the list.
First, what should you do if you think, just maybe, you might be having a heart attack?  Don’t hesitate, and don’t be embarrassed to seek emergency medical attention – in short, don’t wait it out.  While it may be indigestion, stress, anxiety, etc., the adage is: “Time is Muscle.”  If the heart is starving for blood, the longer you wait the greater the damage.  And one truism when it comes to heart tissue, once it’s gone, it won’t grow back.  A second fact: if caught early, before heart muscle has died, the damage can be reversible.


Want to learn more?
American Heart Association
Heart Attack Symptoms in Women
Do You Know Which Symptoms Signal a Heart Attack in Women?
Are you having a heart attack?


Stay Well -NurseBob

Visit my Video Blog for more health information.