World Heart Day is celebrated every year on 29 September to highlight the importance of preventing heart disease, reduce its prevalence around the world, and enjoy good heart health.
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death worldwide. However, by raising awareness and focusing on the importance of prevention, it will be possible to control the CVDs and the risk factors that cause them.
The Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) celebrates this important occasion every year, along with the rest of the state’s institutions and the international community, by organizing several events, including holding awareness lectures entitled “Healthy Heart for Healthy Body” at the staff clinic, to raise awareness of the importance of preventing heart diseases and following a healthy lifestyle.
This year, a lecture was delivered by Dr. Russal Waseem Mohamad in English and another by Dr. Marwan Mohammed Hamid in Arabic for PHCC staff. The awareness lectures covered the importance of maintaining and boosting heart health by paying attention to the quality of our food, focusing on the importance of getting adequate sleep, and monitoring efforts and the healthy lifestyles we follow.
Types of diet play an important role in developing coronary heart disease. Following a diet high in saturated fats is one of the risk factors that lead to obesity, high blood pressure, and uncontrolled diabetes. That is why a low-saturated fat, high-fiber, high plant-based food diet can substantially reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Most clinicians recognize that junk food consumption is associated with premature heart disease. The consensus is that this relationship exists due to high saturated fats in these foods, which are linked to causing obesity, diabetes and hyperlipidemia risk and the high salt content raising blood pressure.
Focusing on the simplified definition of heart attacks, their causes, and symptoms, Dr. Russal Waseem Mohamad, Family Medicine Specialist, said that “a heart attack occurs in an individual when an artery or arteries supplying heart with blood and oxygen become blocked.” She added that “fatty deposits build up over passage of time due to high cholesterol, forming plaques in heart’s arteries. If a plaque ruptures at any time a blood clot can form and block your arteries causing a heart attack.”
Blood clot (thrombosis) is the main cause in most heart attack cases, and it is responsive to certain risk factors. These risk factors can be tractable and therefore, abstained from, such as smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, inactivity, unhealthy diet, and diabetes mellitus, while there are other non-tractable risk factors, such as having a family history of heart diseases , i.e (heart diseases in fathers and brothers aged below 55 and mothers and sisters aged below 65), in addition to age and race.
It is worth noting that avoiding tractable risk factors that can be abstained from reduces the risk of heart attacks.
The most common symptom of a heart attack is severe chest pain, which often feels like a heavy pressure on one’s chest. The pain may also travel up into the jaw and down the left arm or down both arms.
Dr. Marwan Mohammed Hamid, Occupational Health Specialist, defines stroke as “a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients. This happens due to either a clot or bursts (ruptures), causing the brain cells to die within minutes.
As for the main causes of strokes, they can be summarized by either blocked arteries (ischemic stroke) or leaking or bursting of a blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). Some people may have only a temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain, which is known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), that does not cause lasting symptoms.
Blocked or narrowed blood vessels are caused by fatty deposits that build up in blood vessels or by blood clots or other debris that travel through the bloodstream and lodge in the blood vessels in the brain.
While on the other hand, brain hemorrhages can happen due to many conditions that affect the blood vessels, such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, overtreatment with blood thinners (anticoagulants), bulges at weak spots in your blood vessel walls (aneurysms), and trauma (such as a car accident) and some other causes.
Genetics can influence the risk for heart diseases in many ways as genes control every aspect of the cardiovascular system, from the strength of the blood vessels to the way cells in the heart communicate. A genetic variation (a genetic mutation) in a single gene can affect the likelihood of developing a heart disease.
Many cardiac disorders can be inherited and linked to genetics, including conduction abnormalities of heart, congenital heart disease, heart muscle disease called Cardiomyopathy, and high blood cholesterol. Coronary artery disease leading to heart attack, stroke, and heart failure (weak heart pump system) can run in families, indicating inherited genetic risk factors.