Heart Attack – Causes of Heart Attack

It is a popular term for an acute failure of the pumping action of the heart, accompanied by lung congestion and the accumulation of fluid in the dependent parts of the body. The symptoms of heart attack include coughing, copious frothy spittle, discomfort when lying down, laboured breathing, rapid heart action, blueness of the skin and lips, swelling of the legs and fatigue. Heart attacks rank first as the cause of death, cancer being second and diabetes third. Men are more prone to heart attacks than women. Heart attacks are not rare in young men between 30 and 35 years of age but beyond 35 years and up to 60, the likelihood of heart-attacks increases sharply. After the age of 60, there is a sharp decrease in the incidence of heart-attacks.

Causes of heart attack

A major cause of heart failure is coronary thrombosis. In this disorder, a blood clot in one of the small coronary arteries obstructs the delivery of blood to a portion of the heart. If the affected muscle segment dies, the heart may no longer be able to function properly. Other leading causes of heart-attack include severe hypertension (excessively high blood pressure) and obstruction or blocks in one or more of the heart valves. Heart failure may occur within a few minutes after a coronary thrombosis or may develop slowly over several weeks as when a valve is obstructed.

Other causes of heart-attack are obesity, stress, strain, fast living, consumption of more fat and cholesterol containing foods like beef, mutton, bacon, chicken, lobsters, shrimp, oyster, duck, goose, frank­furters, hamburgers, cheese, butter, ghee, dalda, coconut oil etc. Although heart disease is not contagious but it is certainly a hereditary disease like high blood pressure, asthma, iron deficiency, nervous disorders etc.

Fats: Fats are a class of energy rich organic compounds of plant or animal origin which are basic components of animal diets. Fats and oils are primarily compounds of long-chain fatty acids and glycerol. Oils and fats of animal origin include butter, lard, tallow, fish oils, and whale oil. Lard is produced from the melted and strained fat of hogs. Tallow refers to the solid fat of cattle, sheep or horses. Unsaturated fats like oil, sunflower oil, maize oil, gingeli and raw fruits and vegetable juices possess less cholesterol and less fat and they are often eaten to reduce the danger of coronary thrombosis or arteriosclerosis.

Cholesterol: Cholesterol is a sterol, widely found in highest concentration in nerve and brain tissues. Its high concentration in all nerve tissues suggests that it plays a vital role in nerve conduction. Gall-bladder stones are composed mainly of cholesterol; in fact gallstones may be more than 90% cholesterol. Deposits of cholesterol are found in the lining of arteries in a group of disease of the blood vessels and heart. These deposits may be quite thick throughout the interior of the arteries and make clot formation more likely. Diseases related to excess cholesterol deposition in the arteries include arteriosclerosis, angina pectoris, myocardial infarction (coronary thrombosis or heart-attack), cerebral vascular disease, stroke and dissecting aortic aneurysm.

It is thought that a reduction in the dietary intake of cholesterol might be helpful in preventing and controlling diseases of the blood vessels. Although the liver produces far more cholesterol than is usually eaten in food, it appears that the dietary cholesterol is more likely to be deposited in the arteries than the endogenous cholesterol. Accordingly some doctors now advise limitation in the intake of high cholesterol containing foods like butter, cream, cheese, mutton, chicken, pork, bacon, hogs, crabs, sprawn, lobster, frankfurters and hamburgers.

Importance of unsaturated fats in the diet:

It has been found that the kind and amount of fat in the diet influence the rate at which the body produces cholesterol, the rate at which the cholesterol is deposited and the incidence of heart attacks. In general, these fats that are saturated tend to increase the deposition of cholesterol. Such fats are coconut oil, vegetable oil (dalda), ghee, butter, cream, cheese, beaf, chicken, pork, hogs, shrimp, crab, lobster etc. The unsaturated fats are til oil, maize oil, sunflower oil, gingelly, soyabean oil, peanut oil and raw fruits and vegetables. These fats remain liquid at ice-box temperature and so they do not cause any harm to the body. It was seen that substituting unsaturated fats for saturated fats lowered the incidence of heart-attacks. Therefore many doctors now recommend the substitution of unsaturated fats for saturated fats in diet. So dietary control is the first and foremost duty in order to check heart-attacks.

Heart rate: The normal heart rate is considered to be about 72. beats per minute. Under stress or vigorous exercise, the heart rate may reach as high as 170 to 180 beats per minute. At birth the heart rate may be up to 160 times a minute but settles down during the first year to about 100 beats a minute.

Heart disease: Heart disease may be of varied types- rheumatic heart disease, syphilitic heart disease, thyrotoxic heart disease, congenital heart disease, septal defects, coarctation of aorta, hypertension heart disease, transposition of the great arterties, coronary heart disease etc.