A stitch in time saves nine”. These proverbial words by Ben Franklin were first used in 1723 by Thomas Fuller. It was first referred to repairing sails on a ship. This concept can also be applied to prevention of heart attacks, which are becoming not only common but also being seen at younger ages.
The commonest cause of a “Heart attack” is blockage of an artery by a clot which suddenly stops blood from flowing to the heart muscle. This clot formation occurs on a partially blocked artery which has a build-up of fatty deposits on the inner wall of the blood vessel that supplies the heart with blood.
There are a number of risk factors associated with heart attacks such as tobacco use, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, and high levels of bad cholesterol, unhealthy diet, obesity and physical inactivity.
This build-up of cholesterol deposit is called atherosclerosis which hardens the arteries. A similar build up in the arteries supplying blood to the brain leads to brain strokes.
When atherosclerosis affects the arteries and builds up slowly, it leads to problems like angina. A symptom of chest discomfort or shortness of breath on variable degrees of effort like walking or climbing stairs. The degree of limitation is often related to the severity of blockade.
A sudden blockade leads to a heart attack, which can be rapidly fatal if not recognised and managed in time. It can also lead to very unstable or chaotic rapid beating of the heart, a condition called ventricular fibrillation which leads to instantaneous death unless managed within a few minutes by an effective cardio pulmonary resuscitation.