Northwestern Press

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Healthy Geezer: Heart attack predictions, preventions

Thursday, February 6, 2020 by FRED CICETTI Special to The Press in Focus

Q. What causes a heart attack?

A blood clot in a narrowed coronary artery is the usual cause of a heart attack. The clogged artery prevents oxygenated blood from nourishing the heart. This can lead to pain, the death of heart cells, scar tissue and fatal arrythmias.

Many causes can lead to the narrowing of arteries, which is called atherosclerosis. This increases the likelihood of a heart attack.

Some leading causes of heart attacks are: genetics, high cholesterol and triglycerides, smoking, high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, diabetes, stress, excessive alcohol, saturated fat in your diet, age, gender and race.

More than eight of 10 who die of coronary heart disease are 65 or older. Men are at greater risk than women of having a heart attack. African-Americans, Mexican-Americans and Native Americans are at higher risk of heart disease.

Q. What drugs are used to treat a heart attack?

Drugs that help dissolve clots blocking blood to your heart are lifesavers, and are known as thrombolytics or “clot-busters.” The earlier you are given a clot-buster, the better.

A superaspirin is given with a clot-buster. The superaspirin prevents new clots from forming.

Nitroglycerin is used to open arteries, improving blood flow to and from your heart.

Regular aspirin keeps blood moving through constricted arteries. Paramedics may give aspirin when they respond to an emergency to treat a heart-attack victim. Aspirin reduces mortality from heart attacks.

Beta blockers, which lower your pulse rate and blood pressure, can reduce damage to the heart.

Q. Can your ears predict a heart attack?

Kay Tee Khaw, a professor of clinical gerontology at Cambridge University, England, said it may be that “big ears predict survival. Men with smaller ears may die selectively at younger ages. Ear size or pattern, or both, may be a marker of some biological process related to health.”

While this may sound far-fetched, many studies have shown that men with a diagonal crease in both ear lobes may have an increased risk of heart attacks.

Older people have bigger ears than they had as young adults. In short, your ears grow larger as you age. I know this sounds like a myth, but it’s been proven by many scientific studies.

For example, researchers at the VA Medical Center-Texas Tech University found that ear circumference increases an average of 0.51 millimeters per year.

Physicians at the Royal College of General Practitioners in England measured their patients’ ears. They found that as we get older, our ears grow about 0.22 mm a year.

Have a question? Email: fred@healthygeezer.com. Order “How To Be A Healthy Geezer,” 218-page compilation of columns: healthygeezer.com

All Rights Reserved © 2020 Fred Cicetti

The Times News, Inc., and affiliates (Lehigh Valley Press) do not endorse or recommend any medical products, processes, or services or provide medical advice. The views of the columnist and column do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Lehigh Valley Press. The article content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, or other qualified health-care provider, with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.