Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Heart Attack on the Inside

As you’ve learned, heart-attack symptoms can be vague and misleading. But inside your body, the situation is more straightforward.

The trouble develops over many years as tiny growths form on the inside walls of the arteries that supply the heart, causing the arteries to narrow significantly. These growths, called plaque, hold small deposits of fat. For reasons that aren’t fully understood, some of these growths eventually become soft, inflamed, and ready to burst.

When one of these soggy problem spots tears open, it triggers an inflammatory reaction that causes your blood to form a clot. This clot seals the artery shut, in much the same way that it patches minor nicks and cuts in your skin. The result is that your heart is deprived of blood and starved of oxygen. The heart muscle begins to die.

Blood clots don’t just trigger heart attacks. A blood clot that forms elsewhere in your body can break off and travel through your blood, eventually becoming lodged in a smaller passageway. Depending on where the clot is, it can cut off the blood flow to other organs and damage them. A clot can even block the arteries that feed your brain, triggering a sudden loss of brain function called a stroke.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that discomfort needs to be continuous to be serious. Heart-attack symptoms may come and go intermittently, as the arteryobstructing clot breaks up slightly and reforms—but the danger is the same.

For some reason, many people have the unspoken belief that 911 is the number to call when someone else is in trouble—usually, someone who’s already incapacitated (say, by a gunshot wound, a massive injury, or a Hollywood heart attack). But if you experience the symptoms of a heart attack, you have two choices: Swallow your pride or be embarrassed to death.

Source of Information : Oreilly - Your Body Missing Manual

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