Heart attacks can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'troubling' to 'critical'. Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.
Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms. In order to diagnose heart attacks, we could:
|Heart Disease||4%||Ruled out|
|Diabetes Type 1.5||0%||Ruled out|
|Birth Control Pill Issues||0%||Ruled out|
|Cigarette Smoke Damage||0%||Ruled out|
Have you already suffered Heart Attack(s)?
Possible responses:→ Don't know
→ Yes, mild one
→ Yes, a severe one
→ Yes, more than one
Coronary Disease / Heart Attack also suggests the following possibilities:
Many studies have shown that higher omega-3 fatty acid intake can cut the rate of sudden cardiac death by nearly one-half, in both apparently healthy patients and those who have suffered a previous heart attack.
To better understand this protective effect, Danish researchers examined the dietary patterns and individual fatty acid status of nearly 300 patients with ischemic heart disease, comparing them with specific parameters of cardiac function. They found that the patients who ate more fish had higher levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats in their blood cell membranes and in their fat cells. A higher level of two specific fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – especially within the cell membrane – was associated with higher heart rate variability in the patients. An increased heart rate variability indicates healthier pulse regulation, and appears to significantly reduce the risk of arrhythmia and cardiac death.
Researchers at Columbia University Medical School studied 55 men undergoing X-ray exams of their arteries and found that those with a lower testosterone level had higher degrees of heart disease (blockage of the coronary arteries). This study also found that the protective HDL cholesterol levels were higher in men with higher testosterone levels.
Low testosterone is linked to hypertension, obesity, atherosclerosis and increased waist-to-hip ratio – all of these being heart attack risk factors. Administration of testosterone to men has been reported to decrease the risk factors for heart attack.
Being severely underweight can cause heart failure.
If you smoke, it should be noted that there is a synergistic effect between smoking, oral contraceptives and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
According to a report from the U.S. Surgeon General, "Cigarette smoking should be considered the most important risk factor for coronary heart disease." Statistical evidence reveals a three- to five-fold increase in the risk of coronary artery disease in smokers compared to nonsmokers. Risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke depends the number of cigarettes smoked, the number of years smoked, the age of smoking onset and depth of inhalation. However, when a woman stops smoking, no matter how long or how much she smoked, her risk of heart disease drops by 50% in the first year alone. Similar benefits would be expected for a man.
In 1999 the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the risk of death from a heart attack rose 24-fold in the first hour after cocaine use.
Dehydration thickens the blood (which is about 50% water) and decreases its volume, thus lowering blood pressure. In an attempt to normalize (increase) blood pressure, the body constricts blood vessels. The heart is then forced to pump thicker blood through narrower vessels, putting it at increased risk of failure. A large study of 8,280 male and 12,017 female subjects found that staying sufficiently hydrated reduced the risk of coronary disease by 46% in men and 59% in women. [Am J Epidemiol. 2002 May 1;155(9): pp.827-33]
It is not clear yet if people with type 1.5 have the same high risk for cardiovascular problems as individuals with type 2.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of diabetes-related death. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. At least 65% of people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.
A mild heart attack may be mistaken for heartburn, and vice versa.
Male carriers of the common hemochromatosis gene mutation are at 2-fold risk of a first heart attack compared with noncarriers. Some 10% to 20% of the population carry at least one gene for hemochromatosis. Full-blown hemochromatosis affects about 0.5% and gene carriers usually do not know that they are at increased risk. They have almost no increase in iron stores over those without the mutation [Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association September 21, 1999;100].
Giving blood is the best way to lower iron stores, but a more recent study found no protective effect against heart attack among men who donated blood regularly. [Circulation January 2, 2001]
The thyroid affects every organ in the body, including the heart. Almost any type of heart disease can be worsened by thyroid disorder, so thyroid function should always be checked if cardiac symptoms are worsening. Hypothyroidism weakens the heart muscle in both its contraction and relaxation phases, resulting in less blood being pumped. And, because the heart muscle does not relax normally in between beats, a potentially serious condition called diastolic dysfunction may result.
If you sleep less than six hours per night and have disturbed sleep you stand a 48% greater chance of developing or dying from heart disease.
Obstructive sleep apnea increases a person's risk of having a heart attack or dying by 30% over a period of four to five years, according to a Yale University study presented at the American Thoracic Society 2007 International Conference in May of 2007. Sleep apnea is associated with many physiological changes that increase the risk of both heart attack and stroke.
Women with the PCOS have a five to seven times higher risk of myocardial infarction and ischemic heart disease than other women. Surprisingly, the increased risk was found to be independent of obesity, supporting the argument that insulin resistance alone is important in determining cardiovascular risk. [Fertil Steril 2000;73(1): pp.150-6, J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1999;84(6): pp.1897-99]
Because it increases the risk for coronary artery disease by almost two times, a lack of exercise is nearly as dangerous to the heart as smoking, abnormal cholesterol levels, or hypertension. Sedentary living is the fourth major cardiac risk factor.
Even if you never become diabetic, high levels of insulin contribute to cardiovascular risk by increasing the process of atherosclerosis. Insulin increases the rate at which cholesterol-laden plaque builds up on arterial walls. The abnormally high levels of insulin produced by all overweight individuals, diabetic or not, is an independent risk factor for early cardiac death.
People who experience a jump in blood pressure when they consume salt are at increased risk of dying from heart disease. Even salt-sensitive individuals with normal blood pressure are at risk, as blood pressure eventually rises. [Hypertension (supp), Feb. 16, 2001] Hypertension and salt sensitivity are independent risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Stress may increase magnesium excretion and the resulting temporary magnesium depletion may make the heart more sensitive to electrical abnormalities and vascular spasm that could lead to cardiac ischemia.