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Family history of heart attack should not be ignored

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 Rohit Shishodia
Shortness of breath, chest discomfort and upper body pain are symptoms of heart attacks.

People having a history of heart attack in their families should start taking preventive steps. Dr KK Aggarwal, President, Heart Care Foundation of India and Former President, IMA, says that having a family history of heart attacks should not be ignored. Youngsters should take preventive steps such as having heart-healthy diet composed of fruits, vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids.

Regular physical activity and quitting smoking and alcohol also decreases the risk of heart attacks.

A study indicates that those with one parent that had experienced a heart attack were 48% more likely to have one. Those with two parents with history of heart attack were nearly 6 times more likely to have a heart attack.

Dr Aggarwal says that shortness of breath, chest discomfort and upper body pain are symptoms of heart attacks. He points out that most people having a heart attack experience an unusual feeling that begins at the center of the chest and radiates out. The discomfort, which can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain, can last for more than a few minutes or go away and come back.

“Sometimes people have discomfort or pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. Women, just like men, commonly experience chest pain or discomfort when a heart attack strikes and are more likely than men to suffer other symptoms, such as shortness of breath. Timely consultation with a doctor and treatment at this stage can avert the onset of disease in many cases, which may be potentially life-threatening in some cases,” adds Dr Aggarwal.

Dr Aggarwal explains that when a plaque in a heart artery breaks, a blood clot forms around the plaque. This blood clot can block the blood flow through the heart muscle. When the heart muscle is starved for oxygen and nutrients, it is called ischemia. Damage or death of part of the heart muscle due to ischemia is called a heart attack.

Dr Aggarwal suggests that for living above the age of 80 without a heart attack, one needs to have ideal health parameters and lifestyle. Both can be remembered with the formula of 80. It is advisable to maintain fasting blood sugar (FBS) (mg%), fasting low-density lipoprotein (LDL) bad cholesterol (mg/dL), diastolic lower blood pressure (mm Hg), resting heart rate, and abdominal girth (cm) all below 80. Apart from that, one should also keep the kidney and lung functions above 80.

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