Heart attacks occur when a coronary artery becomes completely obstructed. The pain of a heart attack is the scream of a dying piece of heart muscle for its oxygen supply; but it is not the death of a patch of heart muscle that kills the heart attack victim.
It is the consequent abnormalities of cardiac electrical conduction. These irregularities stop the heart from beating and it is this cessation of cardiac activity that doctors refer to as a cardiac arrest.
Heart failure occurs when a weakened heart is unable to pump sufficient blood to meet the bodies’ demands. When the heart fails people experience swelling, of the feet and ankles, an enlarged liver, fluid in the lungs and shortness of breath.
The major cause of heart failure is atherosclerosis. It causes hardening and narrowing of the coronary arteries. Slowly the heart muscle is strangled by an insufficient supply of blood and oxygen. High blood pressure produces heart failure by increasing the vascular resistance to each succeeding heart beat. The heart grows larger and larger; but still cannot overcome the increase in blood pressure.
In the past, heart failure drowned it’s victims in a pool of their own pulmonary oedema. Today Vasodilators, Fluid Tablets and Digoxin allow the medical profession to postpone that unfortunate occurrence for some significant time into the future.
Vasodilating drugs like the ACE inhibitors, Capoten and Renitec reduce the workload on a failing heart by dilating the bodies’ vascular tree. Fluid leaves the venous circulation and moves through the arteries. Fluid Tablets cause the kidneys to shunt more fluid into the bladder. This again relieves the burden on a failing heart.
Digoxin increases the strength and speed of cardiac contractions allowing the mechanics of cardiac contraction to become more efficient. The proximity of Digoxin’s therapeutic dose, to a dose that produces potentially fatal overdoses leaves Digoxin the drug of last choice in the management of heart failure.
Weight loss has a non specific contribution to the management of heart failure. Many people will tip into failure because their heart cannot pump enough blood against the resistance of their body mass. A reduction in weight produces a consequent reduction in the hearts workload and an increased application to the pastime of providing good circulation.