The top 3 steps you can take to avoid a heart attack in Kingston, New York
NUMBER ONE: Find out if you have coronary artery disease
By far the most common cause of heart attacks is coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease is the blockage of one or more of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. The right coronary, the left anterior descending and the left circumflex arteries are the three arteries supplying blood to the heart. If any of those three arteries are blocked by plaque, you may be at risk for a heart attack.
It is common for persons over age 50 to have a partial blockage of their coronary arteries due to the accumulation of plaque during their lifetime. If the blockage of one of your coronary arteries is more than 75%, you will likely need an operation to remove the blockage in order to improve the blood flow through the artery.
How do you find out if you have coronary artery disease? The first two steps are an electrocardiogram (EKG) and a nuclear stress test. An EKG is a non-invasive test that shows the pattern of your heart-rate. An EKG can reveal significant problems with the heart, such as atrial fibrillation, an acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) or coronary artery disease. An EKG is a good first step to finding out whether you have a blockage of the arteries leading to your heart.
A nuclear stress test is an even better test to find out whether you have blocked coronary arteries. During a nucleqr stress test, your heart rate pattern is observed through the use of electrodes while you are physically active, i.e., riding a stationary bike. A blockage of your coronary arteries will be easier to detect with a nuclear stress test because the demands on your heart are greater during physical exertion. Most persons with coronary artery disease will flunk a nuclear stress test.
NUMBER TWO: Find out how much of your coronary artery is blocked through a cardiac catheterization
Once you know you have a potential problem either through an EKG or a nuclear stress test, you are now ready for step number two to preventing a heart attack: cardiac catheterization. During a cardiac catheterization, the surgeon makes an incision in your groin or wrist and inserts a radioactive dye through your arteries. X-rays are then taken of your coronary arteries to evaluate how much of the dye is getting through the arteries. Cardiac catheterization is the best and only way to quantify the blockage of a coronary artery.
If the blockage in your coronary artery is more than 75%, you have a potential life-threatening occlusion that requires an operation. The plaque that partially blocks your artery will only get worse with time--a 75% blockage can become a 99% blockage with time. Even worse, the plaque can break off the wall of the artery and travel to the heart, which can lead to a heart attack. It's time for step three.
NUMBER THREE: Remove the plaque blocking your coronary artery with an angioplasty operation
Angioplasty (also known as balloon angioplasty) is an operation to open the coronary artery with a balloon and a stent is then placed within the artery to keep it open. This operation usually requires a 2-3 hospital admission. This is a common operation for cardiothoracic surgeons and restores blood flow 100% from the coronary arteries. Problem solved! You just removed your risk of a heart attack.
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