If you've suffered a heart attack in the last few years, you may have already adopted many of your physician's recommendations -- losing weight, avoiding stress, stopping smoking, or taking a daily aspirin or beta-blocker. However, if you have a family history of heart disease, these preventive efforts may not be enough to stop a subsequent heart attack. What else can you do to reduce your odds of a second, more serious cardiac infarction? Read on to learn more about your most effective heart health treatments.
Cholesterol levels are often the biggest contributor to heart attack risk. Although your body processes and filters out much of the cholesterol and saturated fat you consume through food and drink, excess cholesterol particles can form a sticky, greasy coating on the insides of your major arteries. This is called arterial plaque. As cholesterol particles pass through your bloodstream, they often "catch" on the sticky arterial plaque coating the sides of your arteries. Over time, these particles will completely block the flow of blood from one part of the body to another, causing a stroke, heart attack, or other cardiac event.
By taking medications designed to reduce your blood cholesterol levels, you can reduce the amount of arterial plaque coating your blood vessels, thereby reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke.
If you have one or more partially (or fully) blocked arteries, your odds of a subsequent heart attack or stroke increase significantly. By having a stent (or small tube) implanted in this artery, you can ensure uninterrupted blood flow to your heart and other organs. It's more difficult for cholesterol particles to adhere to the smooth walls of the stent (unlike the more textured walls of your arteries), which diminishes your chances of developing a serious blood clot. In some cases, a stent may be only temporary -- for example, if you've reduced your cholesterol levels and no longer have arterial blockages. In other cases, it may be safest to leave this stent in permanently.
Although cholesterol blockage of the arteries is one of the primary causes of heart attack, an irregular heartbeat can also contribute to cardiac problems. Extended arrhythmia can lead to fainting spells, risking serious injury if you live alone or regularly drive yourself to and from work alone. By having a pacemaker installed to regulate the speed at which your heart pumps blood through your body, you'll be able to ensure that your heart remains steady and strong. These pacemakers have significantly improved from previous models, and are now smaller and longer-lasting than ever before.
For more information, contact Henrico Cardiology Associates or a similar organization.