News Roundup March week 4

Do you know your heart attack risk?

Heart attacks happen to many people with no warning—which is why heart disease is called a ‘silent killer.” But it shouldn’t be that way.

There are many tools and tests that can give insights into heart health if we put them to good use.

One example was just highlighted in a review of 52 studies that was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. It’s called abdominal aortic calcification (AAC).

Researchers found that people who have AAC have a 2-4 times higher risk of a future cardiovascular event (like a heart attack).

That’s pretty huge.

It’s because calcium can build up in the aorta before it builds up in the arteries of the heart. It’s an early red flag and a sign that you need to make some changes or take some preventive measures, like…

  • Quitting smoking

  • Getting more exercise

  • Eating better

  • Taking appropriate supplements

There are also other (little-used) ways to get clues about your risk for heart disease. Imaging of the abdominal aorta is not the only way.

There are also several advanced lab tests—like homocysteine, C-reactive protein, and sub-classes of the cholesterol markers you have checked at your annual physical.

Here’s the bottom line. The more information you have about your body, the more power you have to make changes that will keep you healthy. Many tools that are available to us are not used as part of routine care.

I believe that prevention is the best medicine. I also believe that the best way to practice preventive medicine is to use all of the screening and diagnostic tools at our disposal. When you’re ready to be proactive about your health, check out our services and book your first appointment!

How to recognise a heart attack

How long do you think it would take you to recognise that you might be having a heart attack? How long might it take you to recognise it in somebody else?

A heart attack happens every 5 minutes in the UK. Heart attacks can be deadly, but a new study found that one of the most important ways to save lives and improve outcomes from a heart attack is to get to the hospital quickly.

They found that getting to the hospital quickly makes a bigger difference in outcomes than how long it takes to be treated after arrival at the hospital. That’s because hospitals have become pretty efficient at acting quickly (treating heart attacks within about 45 minutes of arrival). So, changing the hospital response time by 10-20 minutes is less likely to make a difference than changing the amount of time it takes to get to the hospital.

So, let’s review the classic signs to help you recognise a heart attack:

  • Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest

  • Any of those same pressure sensations in the arms or spreading to your neck, jaw, or back

  • Nausea, indigestion, heartburn, or abdominal pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Cold sweat

  • Fatigue

  • Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness

Some people have a heart attack completely out of the blue. Others get warning signs hours, days, or even weeks in advance. One warning sign is chest pain that is triggered by activity and goes away with rest. This can be a good reason to seek medical help before it becomes an emergency situation.

Please share this information with anyone you love. And if you (or somebody you are with) starts to show concerning signs of a heart attack, please dial 999. It could save a life.