Apr 23, 2011
Hearts...Everyone has one... in some our heart beats strong, but in others our hearts have weakened and left us struggling. I bet we all know someone who has been affected by heart problems or will be struck by it at some point in our lives.
Heart attacks involve the 'plumbing' system, then there's Arrhythmia's involve the 'electrical' system. Ever feel a pause or extra beat in your chest? fluttering or thumping? that's probably an arrhythmia; which is like a hiccup in your heart and very normal for most people. [95%-99%]
Almost everyone has arrhythmia's at some point in our lives and some are fortunate never to feel them. For me, I had roughly 50,000 premature ventricular contractions daily and almost every other type of arrhythmia there is; except A-Fib caught on monitoring from April 2007 until August 2009.
Sudden cardiac arrest, which is often confused with a heart attack:
Heart attack warning signs:
Snoring, sleep problems may signal heart risk
TIA or stroke: http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/WarningSigns/Warning-Signs_UCM_308528_SubHomePage.jsp
Now some boring technical information I've accumulated over the past 2 years since I was diagnosed at the age of 42 with a malignant heart problem that doctor's told me all my life was "normal". Eventually, it affected my heart muscle, my heart enlarged and my EF dropped dramatically which weakened my heart more and the ventricles stiffened and I developed problems throughout my heart and heart failure symptoms.
Syncope (fainting) is one of the most common medical ailments encountered in clinical practice. However, fainting is NEVER ok - it's a sign of something. It may be due to simple blood pressure drop or medication problems, but for some like me - fainting can be deadly and needs to be checked out by a simple test called a Tilt table test. http://www.cccgroup.info/neurosyn.asp
In the United States, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) affects more than 300,000 people annually and is the leading cause of death each year killing more than breast cancer, lung cancer, and HIV/AIDS combined.
SCA results from a disruption in the heart’s electrical system, which generally causes the heart to beat very rapidly (ventricular fibrillation) followed quickly by a lack of a pulse. Ninety-five percent of people who have SCA die from it—most within minutes.
About 5 percent of all arrhythmias are serious, life threatening, malignant arrhythmias (MA). The MA is regularly associated with organic heart diseases (coronary heart disease, cardiomyopathy, valvular heart diseases), but a MA can develop without cardiac disorders e.g. in long QT syndrome or WPW syndrome.
The most frequent type of the MA is the ventricular tachycardia (VT), mostly the sustained VT, not rarely degenerating to ventricular fibrillation (VF). The primary VF represents a rarer form of MA. The usual type of MA is the tachycardiac form, but there exists a MA with dominating bradycardia (bradycardia syncope, tachycardia associated with long lasting bradycardia). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2913541
I have Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia, cause unknown that causes my heart to go into V-Fibrillation which has been associated with syncope (fainting). I had an EP Study to find out where mine were originating and to see how many places there were for the EP to ablate (burn) and try to get rid of the the extra pathways. During the EPS, my heart stopped 3 times. When my heart stopped the first time they didn't think it was going to restart. Luckily, I had no burns from them using the paddles and no chest pains or problems afterwards, but within a few short months my PVC's returned and started wrecking havoc on my heart again.
With heart attacks there are warning signs, sometimes we ignore them. Every year tens of thousands of Americans survive heart attacks, go back to work and enjoy a normal life. If you're diligent in your healthcare, you can have your bloodwork drawn and even a cardiac cath to see how much plaque you have built up in your arteries taking a pro-active approach to CAD [coronary arterial disease].
With SCA's often there are NO warning signs and that leads to unnecessary deaths. You could have a full cardiac workup and it show nothing to point to have anything dangerous or your doctor think all your tests are within normal range.
SCA can strike persons of any age, gender, race, and even those who seem in good health, as evidenced by world class professional athletes at the peak of fitness. While most SCA deaths occur in adults, SCA is also the leading cause of death in young athletes and can also strike children participating in normal school or sports activity.
If you have any of the following warning symptoms; have a full cardiac workup with a trusted cardiologist outside an ER/A&E:
History of early heart disease, heart attack or cardiac death in the family
Unexplained fainting or near fainting
palpitations or other arrhythmia's
Chest pain, shortness of breath or fainting with exertion (such as during sports)
Heart failure or heart attack
Weak heart muscle or a cardiac ejection fraction (EF) of less than 40% (EF refers to the percentage of blood that is pumped out of the heart’s main pumping chamber during each heartbeat)
Cardiac risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking, or high cholesterol
Just remember this - In the United States, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) affects more than 300,000 people annually and is the leading cause of death each year killing MORE THAN breast cancer, lung cancer, and HIV/AIDS combined.
That's daunting to think about; so stay informed and educate yourself about your risks.