Heart Attacks and Strokes

Heart Attacks and Strokes

Understanding Heart Attacks

  • A heart attack occurs when the supply of blood to the heart is partially or completely blocked
  • This blockage is usually caused by atherosclerosis, a buildup of fatty deposits on the inside walls of arteries, or by a blood clot
  • Without blood, the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen and begins to die
  • Heart attacks can cause severe chest pain, shortness of breath, and could lead to cardiac arrest (heart stopping) if not treated promptly

Understanding Strokes

  • A stroke is similar to a heart attack, but instead of the heart, it affects the brain
  • It occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot (ischaemic stroke) or bursts (haemorrhagic stroke)
  • Brain cells begin to die due to a lack of oxygen, leading to various forms of disability, such as paralysis or speech loss, depending on the area of the brain affected

Risk Factors

  • Both heart attacks and strokes share several risk factors meaning they are influenced by similar lifestyles or conditions
  • These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, family history, age, and lifestyle choices including smoking and being physically inactive

Preventative Measures

  • Regular exercise helps to control weight and reduce the risks of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and diabetes
  • A balanced diet with reduced saturated fat, cholesterol, and salt can also lower these risk factors
  • Quitting smoking is crucial as the chemicals in tobacco smoke harm blood cells, damage heart function, and structure of blood vessels, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis

Treatment of Heart Attacks and Strokes

  • Immediate action is necessary in the event of a heart attack or stroke for survival and faster recovery
  • Treatments may include clot-busting drugs, known as thrombolytics, which work to dissolve the blood clot
  • Surgery such as angioplasty, where a balloon is inflated to open the blocked artery, or bypass surgery, where blood flow is redirected around a blocked or narrowed artery, may also be used
  • After surviving a heart attack or stroke, rehabilitation is critical. This might include physical, occupational, and speech therapy.

Remember to dive deeper into this topic using your textbooks for a comprehensive understanding and consult your teacher in case of any uncertainties.