Handling heart attacks

Saturday, 2 July 2011 00:37 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

ParkwayHealth is one of the leading providers of private healthcare services in Asia. This reputation is the result of quality clinical outcomes and comprehensive care, made achievable with an extensive network of hospitals, integrated healthcare facilities and over 40 years of experience in hospital development.

ParkwayHealth operates three hospitals in Singapore which are Gleneagles Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Hospital and Parkway East Hospital. ParkwayHealth also operates hospitals in Brunei, China, India and Malaysia and the latest addition to this list is Sri Lanka where they have opened a ParkwayHealth Patient Assistance Centre (Sri Lanka) at 389 High Level Road Nugegoda.

ParkwayHealth seeks to be the global leader is value-based integrated healthcare, leveraging on its pursuit for excellence in patient care, comprehensive clinical programmes and facilities, ParkwayHealth strives to meet patients’ standards through quality healthcare.

Senior Consultant Cardiologist Lifeline Heart Centre Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre Dr. Jayaram Lingamanaicker spoke on cardiology and heart attacks recently at CR&FC. Dr. Lingamanaicker is down in Sri Lanka with the opening of a ParkwayHealth Patient Assistant Centre in Nugegoda. ParkwayHealth is represented by Cosmos Medical Services in Sri Lanka.

At this new, centre ParkwayHealth offers clients a number of medical packages which range from US$ 250 to US$ 1,300 depending on which medical problems are identified and needed for testing.

Dr. Lingamanaicker conducted an informative lecture on heart attacks where he spoke on the how to identify if a person is having an attack, what they should do at the time, the risk factors and what should be done to avoid this situations.

Following is Dr. Lingamanaicker’s lecture on this subject:

Heart attack, also called myocardial infarction, occurs when a part of the heart muscle is damaged or dies because the blood supply is cut off completely. Oxygen is carried to the heart by blood vessels called the coronary arteries. The heart has three such arteries and if any one of them is blocked will lead to a heart attack.

Usually the blockage is caused by atherosclerosis, which is a build-up of fatty deposits (called plaque) inside the artery. Heart attack is a serious condition and nearly 45 percent of patients die within the first hour even before they reach the hospital.

Heart attacks can also be caused by a blood clot that blocks the narrowed blood vessel of the heart. Atherosclerosis is the cause of making the artery narrow.

How do I know if am having a heart attack?

Heart attack pain is usually on the left side of the chest near the breast, which is not relieved by rest, and usually lasts for more than 20 minutes. Heart attack can also feel like bad heartburn. The following maybe the signs and symptoms of a heart attack:

  • Feel pressure or crushing pain in your chest, associated with sweating, nausea or vomiting.
  • Feel pain that extends from your chest into the left arm, jaw, or left shoulder
  • Feel compression or tightness like a vice across your chest
  • Shortness of breath and wheezing
  • Do not ignore the pain or discomfort; you must seek help immediately as time is very essential. The sooner you get treatment, the greater the chance of your survival and that the doctors can prevent further damage to the heart muscle.

What should I do?

Immediately call for an ambulance to take you to the hospital. While waiting for the ambulance one should chew one regular tablet of aspirin. It is safer to travel to hospital in an ambulance as it is equipped with oxygen cylinder, defibrillator (shock giving device) and experienced staff.

Some hospitals have the staff and equipment to open the blocked artery and restore blood flow again. These centres are manned 24 hours a day seven days a week. This technology includes rapidly breaking up clots using medicines called ‘clot busters’ they may open the artery by cardiac catheterisation and angioplasty. A Stent is usually deployed to keep the blocked artery open.

In the hospital you will be sent to the coronary care unit where you are fully monitored with ECG for at least 24 to 48 hours. Then you will go to a normal ward and usually discharged on day six.

Risk factors causing a heart attack

The following risk factors play an important role in the formation of plaques in the blood vessels which supply the heart. One must take great care to control these risk factors to minimise a heart attack in the future:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol level
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of heart              attack
  • Increasing age
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress
  • Overweight
  • Sex – more males than              females

How can I avoid having a heart attack?

Talk to your doctor or a cardiologist about your specific risk factors. Blood tests should be done to exclude high cholesterol and diabetes. Blood pressure should be measured regularly to diagnose a raised blood pressure as it is usually silent and has no symptoms. Your doctor may tell you to do the following:

  • Quit smoking; eat a healthy diet-cut back on foods high in saturated fat and sodium (salt) to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes. Need regular blood tests and clinic visits. Excises. Exercise for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise (that raises your heart rate) at least five times a week.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight. Your doctor can advice you about the best ways to lose weight.
  • Control your blood pressure if you have hypertension. Low salt diet and fresh fruits.
  • Aspirin would help reduce your risk of a heart attack. Aspirin can help keep your blood from forming clots that can eventually block the arteries. You must see your cardiologist and find out if you may be suitable patient to take aspirin regularly.