Heart & Circulatory Health

Heart Problems -Frequently Asked Questions

Written by
Dr. Sneha Kannan
and medically reviewed by Dr. Ganesh P Sapkal

Published on Aug 01, 2019 and last reviewed on Aug 02, 2019   -  6 min read

Abstract

Abstract

Are you worried about your risk of developing a heart problem? In this article, we have answered most of the common questions people have about heart problems.

 Heart Problems -Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Heart Attack?

A heart attack or otherwise called myocardial infarction is caused when the blood supply to the heart is blocked. It is mainly caused by the formation of plaque in the blood vessels supplying the heart.

What Are the Warning Signs of a Heart Attack?

A heart attack is a serious medical emergency, so seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following warning signs:

  • Chest pain.

  • Pain in the upper body.

  • Profuse sweating.

  • Fatigue.

  • Breathing problems.

  • Indigestion.

  • Heartburn.

  • Abdominal pain.

The symptoms of a heart attack are different for different people. Sometimes people get a heart attack suddenly without any signs or symptoms, and some people experience a few of the symptoms weeks or days before a heart attack. In general, the more signs and symptoms you develop, the more likely it is that you might get a heart attack.

Do Long Working Hours Cause Heart Problems?

A recent study says that long working hours can cause heart problems. Researchers found that people who worked for 55 hours a week or more are at risk of developing atrial fibrillation. This condition causes the heart to beat very fast, and can also lead to stroke and heart failure.

In this study, they analyzed more than 1,900 people over a long period of time. And the results showed that 43 % of people had some heart-related problem. With an increase in the time of work, the percentage of people with heart condition also increased.

Does Air Pollution Cause Heart Problems?

A couple of years back, a study claimed pollution to be one of the leading causes of stroke worldwide. The study claimed that even very low levels of pollution that are deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is very harmful.

It is believed that low levels of pollution may cause changes similar to heart failure. A study revealed that exposure to nitrogen dioxide No2 causes enlargement of the heart ventricles, which is commonly seen in the early stages of heart failure. Researchers found that for every microgram of fine particulate matter 2.5 per cubic meter of air pollution particles and 10 micrograms per cubic meter of NO2, the heart ventricles enlarged by 1 %.

Can Wearables Detect Heart Problems?

There are many wearable gadgets, smartwatches, and phone applications that claim to detect heart problems. Phones and smartwatches already measure the steps taken and also have sensors to detect heart rate. These pieces of information are crucial to determine heart health. As irregularities in heart rate do not usually cause symptoms in the early stages, such gadgets can be really valuable. Some watch applications claim to detect atrial fibrillations.

These technological advancements have limitations too. For example, as they are expensive, not everyone can afford them. Such devices calculate the heart rate with the help of the pulse. But it is possible to have normal pulse with an irregular heartbeat.

There are other devices that claim to detect high blood pressure by just keeping them over the chest.

But they are not accurate and have missed reading high blood pressure in 8 out of 10 patients.

Which Painkiller Increases the Risk of Heart Problems?

Recently, a study showed that the use of Diclofenac increases the risk of major cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke. Diclofenac belongs to the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) group. This research was based on data collected from more than 6.3 million adults over 10 years in Denmark.

The side effects of taking Diclofenac for a long time are irregular heartbeat, heart failure, ischemic stroke, and heart attack.

What Are the Early Signs of Heart Disease?

If you experience any of the following signs and symptoms, never ignore them, as they can be an early indication of heart disease:

  • Chest discomfort.

  • Gastric problems like nausea, indigestion, heartburn, and stomach pain.

  • Chest pain that radiates to the arm.

  • Dizziness or feeling lightheaded.

  • Jaw pain.

  • Getting tired easily.

  • High levels of homocysteine.

  • Cold sweats.

  • Long-lasting cough.

  • Irregular heartbeat.

  • Swollen feet and ankle.

What Are the Risk Factors for Heart Disease?

The factors that can cause heart disease are:

  • Old age.

  • Males.

  • Family history.

  • Postmenopausal women.

  • Smoking.

  • Obesity.

  • High cholesterol levels.

  • Uncontrolled hypertension.

  • Diabetes.

  • Sedentary lifestyle.

  • Uncontrolled stress.

  • Poor diet.

  • Alcoholism.

What Is the Normal Heart Rate?

The normal range of heart rate in adults is 60 to 100 beats per minute at rest. Usually, a lower heart rate at rest indicates better cardiovascular fitness, so for athletes, the normal heart rate is 40 beats per minute.

What Is Homocysteine?

Homocysteine is an amino acid, which is a normal protein found in the blood. High level of homocysteine is considered a risk factor for developing cardiac diseases. The normal homocysteine levels are between 4 and 15 micromoles/liter.

What Is an ECG (Or EKG)?

ECG or EKG stands for electrocardiogram, which is a diagnostic test done to detect heart problems and to monitor the heart status by recording the electrical signals of the heart. It is a noninvasive and painless method.

What Is Echocardiography?

Echocardiography or echocardiogram is a diagnostic test used to produce images of the heart with the help of soundwaves. It is used to spot blood clots in the heart, fluid accumulation around the heart, and any abnormality in the aorta.

What Is Coronary Angiography?

Coronary angiography is done to check for blockage in the coronary artery. In this procedure, X-rays are taken after injecting a contrast dye into the arteries, and the movement of the dye is used to see how the blood flows through the heart.

What Is a Stent?

A stent is placed during the procedure called angioplasty. Angioplasty is done to open the blockage in the coronary artery using a catheter. After the blockage is opened, a stent is placed to keep the vessel open.

What Is a Pacemaker?

A pacemaker is an electrical device that is used to manage irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias). They help treat tachycardia (fast heartbeat) and bradycardia (slow heartbeats).

Is a Heart Attack Always Fatal?

Heart attack is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. The fatality depends on how much the heart muscles are damaged during a heart attack. It also depends on the artery that is blocked and the location of the block. If prompt treatment is given and the blockage is removed, the survival rate improves.

How Will My Blood Pressure Be During a Heart Attack?

During a heart attack, as the blood flow to the heart is blocked, it can either lead to an increase or decrease in the blood pressure. The changes in blood pressure during a heart attack is very unpredictable, so it is not used as a sign of an attack.

How Much Is the Heart Rate During a Heart Attack?

It is believed that the heart stops beating as soon as there is a heart attack, but this is not true. Depending on where the block is, the heart rate can vary from being very fast or very slow or palpitations or missed beats

How Painful Is a Heart Attack?

Different people experience different symptoms and intensity of pain during a heart attack. Chest pain is commonly seen in most cases, but some people do not have chest pain.

Can a Person Recover from Heart Disease?

With proper treatment, lifestyle modification, good diet, and regular exercise, most of the heart problems are treatable.

How Long Do You Live After a Heart Attack?

Most people lead a normal and long life if proper treatment and care are given during the first heart attack. 20 % of patients who are 45 years or older get another heart attack within 5 years of the first one.

How Can Heart Diseases Be Prevented?

Steps to prevent heart diseases are:

Last reviewed at:
02 Aug 2019  -  6 min read

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