Coronary Heart Disease -Heart attacks and Heart failure
Coronary Heart disease – Heart attacks and Heart Failure
CHD and heart attacks
As discussed in an earlier section of this presentation, coronary heart disease or CHD is a consequence of narrowing of the blood vessels that feed the heart. When one of the blood vessels feeding the heart becomes completely blocked it can result in myocardial infarction or heart attack.
Heart attacks are particularly dangerous because they can cause permeant damage to the heart muscle. If the person does not receive urgent treatment there is a risk that the heart attack may be fatal. This is why there has been a series of government awareness campaigns over the years that highlight the importance of dialling 999 if somebody has a heart attack.
Although the symptoms of a heart attack may be different between different people, generally speaking the symptoms of a heart attack are similar to those for angina, except that the pain is a lot greater. Other symptoms associated with a heart attack include:
- Radiating pain to other parts of the body such as the arms, jaw, neck, stomach and back.
- Feeling light headed
- Starting to sweat
- Feeling sick
- Becoming breathless
Like angina, someone having a heart attack may experience symptoms similar to indigestion such as a heavy chest heart burn or a stomach ache. Unlike angina a heart attack can occur during resting and activity, and the pain continues beyond 15 minutes. If you remember in an earlier section I pointed out that angina tends to resolve itself within ten minutes. Another point is that the use of nitrate spray or tablets cannot relieve the heart attack symptoms.
In some people such as somebody who may be elderly or has diabetes, they may have a heart attack without having any symptoms. This type of heart attack is referred to as silent myocardial infarction.
CHD and heart failure
People with CHD can also have heart failure if the heart struggles to circulate blood around the body. A consequence of a weak heart in this setting is that fluid starts to accumulate in the lungs, which in turn makes it difficult to breathe.If heart failure occurs suddenly it is described as an acute heart failure versus chronic heart failure which is that the heart gradually gets weaker over time where the end result is heart failure.