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THE MACHINE CALLED HEART

Heart diseases, that once targeted only the older segment of the population, have now become common among everyone – from the new-born, young women and the obese. Heart disease is no more confined to only heart attacks and problems with the blood vessels. It now incorporates a number of heart-related illnesses. Among them are the irregular contraction and relaxation of the heart muscles, blocks in the blood vessels of the heart valves, irregular blood flow, haemorrhage, problems related to the muscles that surround the heart and insufficient supply of oxygen.

How to mend them?

It is the heart that pumps blood and oxygen to the entire body. Pain occurs in the heart when there is insufficient flow of blood and oxygen to the heart due to constricted blood vessels. This is what we know as heart attack. There is a simple solution to this problem. As soon as you notice the symptoms of heart attack or pain, it is very important to take rest. Lying down for a while regulates the flow of blood and could save the person from heart attack. If the pain persists even during the rest, the person needs to seek medical assistance immediately.

Symptoms

Pain in the shoulder blade, back ache and constant feeling of tiredness could be early symptoms of heart attack. Some people mistake these for symptoms of gas trouble and ignore them. This carelessness increases the occurrence of heart attack. Moreover, heart attack begins in the chest and the pain spreads to the jaws, hands and the neck. Among the symptoms of an oncoming attack are uneasiness, breathlessness, nausea, excessive sweating, chilling of the body, and heartburn or pain.

Causes of heart diseases

Mental stress, increased blood sugar levels, high blood pressure (over 140/90 mm Hg), anaemia, irregular eating habits, excessive body weight,  lack of physical exertion, smoking, drinking, increased cholesterol in the blood, constantly sitting for prolonged time, and changes in the oestrogen secretion level (for women) are among the reasons that cause heart diseases.

Tests:

Among the specialised tests to identify heart diseases are the C.P.K M.P. tests, which are used to test the level of Creatine Phosphokinase enzyme, Echo cardiogram, treadmill tests, and angiogram and nuclear scans.

Lifestyle changes:

Do not walk for prolonged distances. Avoid climbing the stairs frequently. Exercise routine and short-distance walks are necessary every day. Also, smoking and drinking must be avoided.

Dietary Restrictions

It’s constituents like rice, sugar, fat and oil that give energy required by the body. Of these, it is advisable to reduce the consumption of rice and sugar, and increase the intake of vegetables and greens. You can continue consuming vegetables, greens, fruits, cereals and pulses, and milk. Since they contain proteins, patients with kidney ailments are requested to consult with their doctors before starting the medication.

One must avoid ingredients like clarified butter, butter, Paneer, coconut oil, sweet potatoes, ice creams, chocolate, pickles, coffee, the yolk of the egg, and chicken meat. Those with diabetes must avoid eating mangoes and jackfruits.

First Aid:

If a person suffers a heart attack, make him sit or lay down immediately. Do not sprinkle water on the face. Do not give solid food for consumption. Give the person something to drink through the mouth, only if he/she asks for it. You may also give him 350 ml Aspirin tablets. If the patient loses consciousness, place your hand on the person’s left chest and look for a heartbeat or a pulse. If the heartbeat is not felt, then keep the hand on the left side of the person’s and press it down mildly. If the person could lose consciousness, place your hand on the left side of the patient’s chest and look for a heartbeat. If there is no heartbeat at all, the place your hand above the patient’s left breast and put some slight pressure on it. the pressure must be given patiently. Excessive pressure could lead to the breaking of the ribs and perforated lungs. Take the patient to a qualified doctor as soon as possible.

Treatment:

If there are blocks in the blood vessels, then a man-made stent could be placed through the angioplasty procedure, to remove the block. Issues like hole in the heart, narrowing down of the valves, and the swelling of the blood vessels can be addressed. For those with irregular heartbeats, a man-made heartbeat regulator device, also known as Pacemaker, could also be placed. Heart assist device could be planted for those with dysfunctional hearts.

Dr. Sanjiv Agarwal, Senior Consultant, Interventional Cardiologist, Fortis Malar Hospital

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