Many people in the United States are aware of what a heart attack is due to the dramatizations they see about it every day on various different television shows. But what they don't realize is that heart attacks are a very real reality that face millions of Americans every single year. Hollywood also can't do justice to the shocking reality of a heart attack and the impact it can have on the life of an individual and their close friends and relatives. We understand the realities of heart attacks, and at our clinic we do everything in our power to educate our patients about the risk of heart attacks and do everything in our power to prevent them.
Heart Attack Causes
A heart attack will occur when one or several of the major arteries that supply your heart with blood rich in oxygen become completely blocked, thus preventing a vital element from reaching your heat. This blockage can be caused by a number of factors, but most commonly it can be narrowed and blocked by the buildup of cholesterol that your body fails to use and remove from the body. This buildup, known as a plaque, can occur anywhere in the body. During a heart attack, one or more of these plaques can rupture thus forming a blood clot at the site of the rupture. If this clot is large enough to block the flow entirely a heart attack will ensue almost immediately. Another, more uncommon cause of heart attacks is a spasm of a coronary artery that can shut down blood flow to the heart. These spasms can be caused by substances such as cocaine.
Are you at risk for a heart attack?
There are a number of factors that can contribute to the buildup of unwanted fatty deposits in your arteries that could lead to a heart attack. A great deal of these risk factors can be avoided by simple and easy lifestyle changes that affect your diet and exercise routine. At our clinic we will help you eliminate many of these factors in order to reduce your chances of having a first or second heart attack. Heart attack risks include:
- Age. Men who are older than 45 and women older than 55 are more likely to have a heart attack than those that are younger. It typically takes this long for plaques to build up in your arteries enough to cause a major disruption.
- Smoking. Long term exposure to second hand smoking and smoking tobacco can do serious damage to the interior walls of your arteries, including those that lead to your heart. This damage allows for cholesterol to easily build up and collect, thus reducing your blood flow. This increases your risk of clots.
- Diabetes. Diabetes can cause an inability of your body to produce enough insulin to deal with blood sugars in your body. If not properly treated, diabetes can lead to heart attacks because the blood sugars turn into bad cholesterol which can in turn build up in your arteries, causing plaques and increasing you chances of a serious clot.
- High Blood Pressure. Over a long period of time, high blood pressure caused by stress or a poor diet, can damage the lining of your arteries. This will allow for cholesterol to build up easily on the artery walls. Being overweight can also contribute to high blood pressure.
- Lack of Physical Activity. An inactive lifestyle can contribute to high blood cholesterol and obesity. People who get enough physical activity tend to have better cardiovascular health and decreases the risk of heart attacks. This is especially important if you have a family history of heart attacks.