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The Human Heart and Heart Attacks

by Dr. Martin Chen

Martin Chen, M.D. is a General Practice Medical Doctor working at HeartWise,
a heart clinic in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada.
Graduated from the University of Toronto,
he is the author of articles on Emergency Room,
and participated in scientific research in the Department of Pathology at the University of Toronto.
Article printed in the January 14-15, 2006 issue of
The Mississauga News - Guest Column for Dr. Peter W. Kujtan's Medicine Matters.

While attending the University of Toronto Medical School, I took a grueling course called Pathology - diseases afflicting the human body. No student passed Pathology and went on to become practicing a Medical Doctor without learning the "Five Risk Factors" for "Coronary Heart Disease": smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, family history of heart disease, and high blood cholesterol.

The human heart has fascinated mankind for years. It is a fist-sized muscle that beats continuously 20 billion times in an average 76-year life span. The heart is the muscular pump that moves fresh oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to the rest of the body. The strong heart muscle pushes blood forward with its mechanical action (systole); the backflow (diastole) is stopped by strong one-way door called valves.

In Canada, blocked coronary arteries to the muscles of the heart is THE major cause of death. Heart and its blood vessel diseases account for the majority of deaths in Canada - 74,000 a year; about 28,000 more than the entire audience in the SkyDome (renamed Rogers Centre, 2005). When blood vessels to the heart muscles are narrowed and/or blocked, Acute Coronary Syndrome occurs. Heart Attack (myocardial infarction, MI) is the most feared result. Death can occur suddenly due to disruption of the pace-making electric wiring of the heart. Death can occur from loss of the muscular pump action of dead heart cells.

Patients who have blockage of vessels supplying the heart often complain of chest pain, or a crushing heaviness behind the breastbone (sternum). However, the patient may describe it as "gripping", "heartburn", or "palpitating" chest discomfort. Heart patients may also experience shortness of breath or weakness. Women with heart attack can have more variable chest discomfort. If you are worried that you are having heart troubles, SEE A MEDICAL DOCTOR. You will get blood tests, x-rays and EKGs (electric recordings with chest stickers).

Heart attack patients have been treated in the last five years with new clot-dissolving and cholesterol-lowering medicines. Patients can be urgently transferred to the operating room for balloon stretching of the coronary arteries (Percutaneous Coronary Intervention). Sometimes metal stents, resembling metal wire supports used to protect garden roses, can be inserted in patients to splint open coronary arteries. When necessary, the chest bones can be opened for bypass operations around blocked coronary arteries.

When doctors are uncertain about whether or not a patient has blocked coronary arteries, stress testing is ordered. Patients are typically asked to walk for about 7 minutes while attached to an EKG. Sometimes medicines containing mildly radioactive medicines are injected. The combination of the amount of exercise achieved, the electrical EKG changes and the pictures taken of the heart containing the radioactive medicine give your doctor a good idea of whether or not your coronary arteries are open.

If you have further questions, ask your doctor, check www.heartandstroke.ca, or call 416-489-7111.

Related resources:

Heart Disease from CDC.

The Heart: The Engine of Life from Franklin Institute Science Museum.

Anatomy of the Heart from Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

Heart Anatomy from Texas Heart Institute.

Map of the Human Heart from PBS.

The Human Heart from WorldInvisible.com.

Heart from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

What Is a Heart Attack? from eHealth MD.

Breakthrough towards the natural control of cardiovascular disease, Dr. Matthias Rath, 22-4-2015. YouTube video, 33:42 min. Published on May 1, 2015 by RathFoundation. Netherlands, Maastricht. "PRESS RELEASE: End of heart disease now possible - New study proves atherosclerosis is early form of scurvy. Scientists at the Dr. Rath Research Institute in California have published a groundbreaking study in the American Journal of Cardiovascular Disease proving that heart disease is an early form of the vitamin C deficiency disease scurvy. Building on a discovery made by Dr. Matthias Rath in the early 1990s, this publication deals a major blow to the cholesterol theory of heart disease and the pharmaceutical industry's associated $30 billion annual sales in patented cholesterol-lowering statin drugs."

Online access: Original Article: Hypoascorbemia induces atherosclerosis and vascular deposition of lipoprotein(a) in transgenic mice by John Cha, Aleksandra Niedzwiecki, Matthias Rath. Dr. Rath Research Institute, Santa Clara, CA USA. Published March 31, 2015.

Dr. Rath Health Foundation: http://www4.dr-rath-foundation.org/

Heart Attack Risk Assessment from American Heart Association.

Signs of heart attack, cardiac arrest and sudden arrhythmia death syndrome (SADS) from Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

Warning Signs of Heart Attack, Stroke & Cardiac Arrest from American Heart Association.

Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction) from MedicineNet.com.

Statistics from Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. On Heart Attack:
  An estimated 1.6 million Canadians are living with heart disease or the effects of a stroke.
  More than 400,000 Canadians are living with long-term stroke disability.
  In 2011, more than 66,000 Canadians died from heart disease or stroke. That's one person every 7 minutes.
  Each year, more than 350,000 Canadians are hospitalized for heart disease or strokei.
  Heart disease and stroke costs the Canadian economy more than $20.9 billion every year in physician services, hospital costs, lost wages and decreased productivity.

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