A heart attack is also called a myocardial infarction (MI) and over one million Americans suffer from this event each year. A heart attack is a condition in which permanent damage to cardiac muscle tissue occurs. Proper functioning of the heart requires a steady flow of oxygen-rich blood and this blood arrives to the heart through the coronary arteries. People who have narrow coronary arteries due to coronary artery disease are at a high risk of suffering a heart attack. The arteries become narrow from plaque, a build-up of fatty substances, excess calcium and proteins, and this plaque becomes hard on the outside and soft on the inside. When this plaque ruptures, clotting particles called platelets arrive and form a clot around the plaque. This clot can completely block the blood flow through the artery and cause a heart attack. Because each coronary artery supplies different amounts of blood to different areas of the heart muscle, depending on which coronary artery is block, the amount of blockage and the duration of the blockage, the amount and location of tissue death of the heart will vary. Some symptoms of a heart attack include rapid or irregular heartbeats, pain or pressure into the area below the breastbone, chest and arm, throat and jaw, weakness and anxiety accompanied by shortness of breath and a feeling of indigestion similar to heartburn. During a heart attack, resting or administering nitroglycerin under the tongue will not alleviate symptoms. Following a heart attack, healing will begin but the damaged area of the heart will develop scar tissue and this tissue is permanent, meaning the hearts effective pumping abilities will be permanently diminished.
To a certain degree, heart disease can be prevented by choosing to live on a healthy diet, engaging in a moderate exercise program 3 to 5 days per week, quitting smoking and keeping stress to a minimum. A lifestyle of healthy choices and conservative care can help to lower the risk of heart disease and heart attack. Chiropractic physicians who offer rehab programs and nutrition counseling will be able to develop an exercise plan to keep healthy habits a priority to attempt to avoid heart disease. Even following a heart attack, depending on the severity, cardiac rehab developed by a cardiologist may be worked in combination with chiropractic wellness to provide maximum healing and healthy lifestyle changes. If a patient presents to a chiropractic office with symptoms that may be attributed to warning signs of a heart attack, an immediate referral to a primary care physician or advice to go to a ER will be given.
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