You are young. You are an athlete. So why does your chest hurt? After all, don’t heart problems only strike older, less active people?
Most of the time, that’s true. However, no one is immune to heart problems, and symptoms are ignored at our own risk.
Globally, 9 million people die each year from ischaemic heart disease. Despite falling rates of heart disease, tackling it is still a stubborn challenge. The pathologies of heart conditions are complex and interwoven, but they often start with ischaemia.
What is ischaemia heart disease?
Ischaemia means a “reduced blood supply”. Ischaemia heart disease is a condition which the heart is starved of oxygen due to a reduced blood supply. Most commonly, this is due to a build-up of plaque in the wall of one of the arteries supplying blood to the heart, known as the coronary arteries.
The silent ischemia heart disease
It’s not uncommon that most of the people may have ischemic episodes without knowing it. This condition is known as ischemia without pain, or in other words, the silent ischemia. They may have a heart attack with no prior warning. People with angina, which causes chest pain, may have undiagnosed episodes of silent ischemia. This can be a warning sign of being at risk of a heart attack. Besides that, people who have had previous heart attacks or those with diabetes are especially at risk for developing silent ischemia.
Continued ischaemia can lead to the build-up plaques in the wall rupture into the blood stream. In such situation, the heart will respond by forming a blood clot, causing the ischaemia worse. Reduced oxygen supplies can cause substantial heart muscle cells death and the heart getting weaker.
How to prevent ischaemia heart disease?
Preventing ischaemic heart disease is largely about controlling the risk factors. “Ideally, prevention habits start early, but they remain important all through life”, mentioned by Dr Bill McEvoy, MBBCh, of John Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the prevention of heart disease.
Smart steps to take:
(i) Quit smoking, or better yet, never start.
Smoking is one of the key risk factors for heart attack, especially among the young. Avoid secondhand smoke too. Smoking causes the platelets in the blood to clump together easily, making the blood cells more sticky to form clots. Clumping platelets can block the coronary arteries and cause heart attack.
(ii) Get active and exercise
It is recommended by WHO that to maintain 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise each week. Studies have shown that for primary prevention, regular physical activity decreases the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, exercise training seems to attenuate disease progression and improve event-free survival in the secondary prevention of ischemic heart disease.
(iii) Taking nutritional and vitamin supplements
Numerous nutritional or vitamin supplements have been proposed to have beneficial effects in reducing coronary artery disease. Examples include fish oil, coenzyme Q10, Vitamin C, D and E in preventing and/or treatment of coronary artery disease.
Fish oils are rich sources of long chain fatty acids known as the “essential” fatty acids that can only be obtained through diet or supplementation. Fish oils are also known as omega-3 fatty acids, containing EPA and DHA that have shown to reduce heart failure, as well as possess antiatherosclerotic, antiarrhythmic and antithrombotic effects.
Whilst CoQ10 is another dietary supplement used to treat patients with heart failure and heart attacks. CoQ10 serves as an essential cofactor in the production of ATP, providing energy to the heart muscle. CoQ10 was reported to protect against atherogenesis by inhibiting excess lipid peroxidation. Uninhibited oxidative process destabilizes arterial plaques and can lead to stroke.
Supplementation of vitamin C, D and E has been shown to reduce ischaemia heart disease due to its antioxidant and inhibits LDL oxidation properties.
Strong studies have shown that there’s a link in reduction risk of ischaemic heart disease by following the habits mentioned above. One may prevent over 80% cases of coronary artery disease, 50% of ischemic strokes and 80% od sudden cardiac death by following a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle is a good investment in a longer, healthier life.
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