Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer. A heart attack is one of the most common types. Can you sense the onset of a heart attack and prevent it? Are you at any greater risk when exercising? What's the deal with screenings? All questions for cardiologist, Dr. Catherine De Maeyer.


25-03-2015 -  by Kevin Van der Straeten

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Transcript

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer. A heart attack is one of the most common types. Can you sense the onset of a heart attack and prevent it? Are you at any greater risk when exercising? What's the deal with screenings? All questions for cardiologist, Dr. Catherine De Maeyer.

 

Hi Catherine, welcome in our studio.

 

Hi.

 

When having a heart attack, what happens?

 

Well, when having a heart attack, a part of the cardiac muscle or the heart muscle doesn't receive enough oxygen to function normally. And that is caused, in most cases, by a plaque or a stenosis in one of the arteries of the heart, the coronary arteries. So when that artery is blocked, not enough oxygen is distributed to the muscle; and then you get what we call a heart attack.

 

And how can you prevent that?

 

Well, there are different risk factors. You have the risk factors where you can really do yourself something about it; like for example, the blood pressure can be too high, the cholesterol shouldn't be too high either.

 

Those are two we discussed in another video so will we put the links below.

 

Correct. Yeah.

 

But there are other risks out there.

 

Yeah, there are also other risk factors. Like for example, avoiding diabetes mellitus, so too high blood sugar. And we have diabetes; you should treat it really well. You should avoid smoking. Take care of your weight, so no overweight. And have regular exercise, so exercise on a regular basis. And those are things you can really do yourself to avoid having a heart attack or a stroke as well. You can also have an attack in your brains. There are also risk factors where you can't do anything about. Like for example, age, gender, and what you have in your DNA. So if...


Does gender have any influence?

 

Yeah. We know that women are protected by estrogen, so the female hormone, until the time they get into their menopause. And then, this protection disappears. So before the age of 50, you have most of heart attack patients are male patients. So and the DNA, the things you get from your family. Well, that's also a risk factor you can't do anything about.

 

And when you had an attack, then you can't do anything anymore?

 

Well, that's a misconception, I must say. Twenty years ago or 30 years ago, that was the idea. You have heart attack, and then you have to stay in bed for several weeks. That's not the way we treat nowadays. In the acute phase, of course, the blocked vessel has to be opened by a balloon stent or CABG; that's an operation. But afterwards, already one day after the heart attack, the physicist therapist will be at your bedside and will do some exercises with you. And really this progressive mobilization is very, very important. So it's important to keep in mind that the first four weeks, you really shouldn't do heavy the exercise. But for example, having, doing some exercise on a bicycle on a home trainer for, for example, ten to 15 minutes without lots of resistance, is perfect for those first weeks. And then afterwards, you can start a real rehab program that is organized in a lot of hospitals. And then, you'll learn how to exercise after your myocardial infarction. But it's very important to keep in mind that good exercise and really also intense exercise is possible after a heart attack. And regular exercise.

 

Would running a marathon be possible, for example?

 

Well, not every patient after a heart attack can run a marathon afterwards. But if there is no myocardial damage, so no damage to the muscle, if the heart function is good, and if there are no other problems, well, it could be a goal. Maybe it shouldn't be a goal to do within two hour and 30. But for example, doing your marathon especially if you are used to do it before the heart attack, you can try to do it in for example, four hours. So setting higher goals shouldn't be a problem after a well-cured heart attack.

 

But again, sports and healthy lifestyle is the key to everything.

 

It's the cornerstone. Yeah.

 

Okay. Thank you very much for coming over.

 

You're welcome.

 

And you at home, thanks for watching our show. I hope to see you next time.

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