At Home with Chris Jessen 2018 - 90
contribute to high blood pressure, can
help too. It also pays to reduce your
consumption of saturated and trans
fats, mainly found in animal products
and processed foods, as they can cause
the arteries to become blocked.
Monounsaturated fats, on the other
hand, found in olive oil, rapeseed
and peanut oils, avocados, almonds,
walnuts, hazelnuts, olives and seeds,
are good for the heart, as they help to
lower 'bad' LDL cholesterol levels in
the blood without affecting the 'good'
HDL levels. They are also thought
to reduce inflammation of the artery
walls and the risk of blood clotting.
If the worst does happen and your
heart health deteriorates, most cases
respond well to treatment, thanks to
innovative new techniques.
The heart is surrounded by three major
coronary arteries, which supply it with
blood and oxygen. If a clot develops in
one of these, the blood supply to that
area of heart muscle will be blocked.
This is called a coronary thrombosis
or myocardial infarction - in other
words, a heart attack. A key symptom
is chest pain, which may spread to the
neck, jaw and left arm. Some people
experience nausea and breathlessness.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
Heart attacks usually occur when
there is a build-up of cholesterol and
other fatty substances in the walls
of the arteries around the heart.
The arteries become narrow and
hardened, making it difficult for the
blood to flow to the heart. This is
coronary heart disease.
These fatty deposits, or plaques,
can also burst, causing blood to clot
around the rupture. If blood is
unable to flow past the clot to the
heart, the heart tissue will die.
Most heart attacks are caused by
coronary heart disease. Another
cause is an aneurysm, which is a
weakness in the wall of a blood vessel.
If the weakness develops beyond a
certain stage, the wall will start to
bulge. Eventually, it won't be able to
withstand the pressure of blood
running through it and it will rupture,
or burst. A less common cause of a
heart attack is drug misuse involving
stimulants, such as cocaine and
With all heart attacks, speed is crucial
for the best outcome. Dial 999 and try
to maintain a heartbeat until the
090 | FEBRUARY 2018
WITH ALL HEART ATTACKS, SPEED IS
CRUCIAL. DIAL 999 AND TRY TO MAINTAIN A
HEARTBEAT UNTIL THE AMBULANCE ARRIVES
ambulance arrives, as this can make
a huge difference to survival. If
possible, the patient should chew an
aspirin tablet (300mg) while waiting
for the ambulance, as this will prevent
blood platelets sticking together
around the clot. Only do this if aspirin
is easily available - the patient should
not get up to look for it. (This does not
apply to people who are allergic to it.)
At hospital, thrombolysis, which
involves injecting a drug into the
bloodstream, may be used to dissolve
the obstruction in the artery. An
emergency operation might also be
performed to dilate the blocked artery,
during which a stent (a short tube of
stainless steel mesh) is usually inserted
into the artery to keep it open.
DISEASE AND ANGINA
The main symptom of coronary heart
disease is angina, which is a feeling
of heaviness, tightness or pain in the
chest. It can also affect the arms,
neck, jaw, face, back or abdomen.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
Age is a major risk factor for coronary
heart disease - four out of five people
who die from the condition are aged