Understanding Heart Diseases
Just like any other organ in the body, the heart is also in much need of oxygen in order to function smoothly. It is able to get the said “nutrition” with a little help from the coronary arteries that are spread all throughout the walls of the heart. Unfortunately, because of the amount of blood that they carry as well as their nearness to the heart, they are also the one of the first places where plaques caused by cholesterol deposits start to form. These blockages causes a slowing down of the blood supply to the heart which, if left untreated, could, later on, lead to a myocardial infarction.
Fortunately, myocardial infarction is not the type of heart disease that sneaks up on you. At the very least, a patient suffering from it would be able to experience a number of signs and symptoms that would alert him to the presence of the said heart disease. Some of these symptoms would include chest pain in relation to shortness of breath, heaviness behind the breastbone that spreads out to the jaw area as well as to the limbs. In some cases, the patient may also feel a tingling sensation in his or her hands, fingers, and toes. Nausea, indigestion, and abdominal pain might also occur.
While some patient might not suffer from cholesterol deposits in their blood vessels, they might have problems with how their valves were formed. Some valves can be too narrow which could lead to the heart having to pump harder. Of course, this stresses the heart and could lead to a slower blood flow in the future. On the other hand, there are also those that have valves that do not close properly. When this happens, blood that should already be travelling to another chamber, flows back and causes the heart to have problems pumping. This also leads to reduced blood flow to other parts of the heart as well as the body. Although the valve might not be seen as a major part of the heart, any problem with it can actually be life – threatening.
There are also instances when the heart is unable to follow a regular pattern when it comes to how it beats. Now, you have to understand that the heart is the only organ that has its own self-starter. This clump of cells are responsible for making sure that the heart keeps to a certain beating pattern. A number of factors, however, can cause the pattern to go haywire. This is typically known as arrhythmia and is generally caused by high blood pressure, diabetes, electric shock, stress, and certain medications, among others. Although it might seem like a relatively simple condition, arrhythmia can actually be life threatening and could even lead to sudden cardiac arrest. It should be noted, though, that Sudden Cardiac Arrest, or SCA, is quite different from a heart attack. In an SCA, the patient falls unconscious without much of a warning. Because the signs and symptoms of the two, however, are very much similar, most medical professionals recommend treating an unconscious patient for SCA first. The guess work, however, can be minimized if the person happens to have an AED unit around. An AED unit can help assess an unconscious person and guide the responder on what should be done next.