KAMPALA– 1. Blood cut off to the heart (Medical jargon: Acute myocardial infarction): Commonest cause is fat deposits, thickening and rigidity eventually resulting into a blockage of the arteries that deliver critical oxygen supply to the heart. A large part of the heart muscle ‘dies’ leading to a ‘heart attack’. Underlying cause: Mainly long-standing untreated or uncontrolled hypertension, unhealthy diet, insufficient physical activity, stress, smoking, lack of medical check-ups
- Abnormal heartbeats (Medical jargon: Arrhythmias): Commonest cause is damage following no.1. Others are imbalances in electrolytes as a result of other severe diseases like kidney disease or poorly controlled diabetes, illicit drugs overdose, enlarged heart due to other problems like heart failure, long-standing high blood pressure or a birth defect. There is, therefore, a link to the lifestyle factors above
- Sudden bleeding in the brain (Medical jargon: Stroke): Various incidents may cause blood vessels in the brain to burst or be blocked by an object. Most typical is the one caused by high blood pressure bursting the small vessels or weak swollen areas of the vessels called ‘aneurysms’. Again, this as a strong link to long-standing untreated or uncontrolled hypertension, unhealthy diet, insufficient physical activity, stress, smoking, lack of medical check-ups
- A blood clot in the lungs: (Medical jargon: Pulmonary embolism): A clot of blood dislodges from a vein in another part of the body (especially the legs), movies up to the heart, then into the lungs and blocks oxygenation of blood. A large one causes the heart to fail. The main underlying cause of ‘stalling of blood flow’ in patients who are bed-bound (remain in bed for a long time)
- The aorta tears or bursts (Aortic aneurysm or dissection): Turbulent blood flow in the aorta can lead to ‘out-pockets’ (aneurysms) of its wall at points of stress due to weakening of the vessel from atherosclerosis. Stiffening of the vessel affects elastic recoil which can result in shearing forces from the abnormal fluid dynamics leading to splicing of the wall which keeps digging deeper and deeper (dissecting). Often the result of long-term conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol or smoking.
What to do when you find a person down:
It’s far better to do something than to do nothing at all if you’re fearful that your knowledge or abilities aren’t 100 percent complete. Remember, the difference between your doing something and doing nothing could be someone’s life.
SHOUT FOR HELP!
Immediately start CPR:
Airway: Open the airway by tilting the head upwards and opening the mouth; remove any debris or blocking matter
Breathing: If not breathing at all, breathe into the person. Yes, put your freaking mouth over the person and send gusts of your expiratory air into their lungs
Circulation: If the heart does not appear to be beating (no pulse is felt), make chest compressions synchronized with the rescue breaths.
First, make like 30 chest compressions before giving about 2 rescue breaths – thereafter, continue syncing the compressions with breaths.
As you do this, yell to people to call for help or transport. Then live the rest to the Almighty! (The expert Brian Kanaahe Mwebaze Bilal takes over from here regarding the rest for the process of First Aid)
Reducing the risk:
Eventually, as we age, such incidents become inevitable – but their occurrence below 70 years can be minimized through:
-Healthy dietary practices
-Having sufficient physical activity
-Not smoking/stopping to smoke immediately if you do
-Periodic medical check-ups
-Treating and controlling hypertension (for people with hypertension) (25% of adult Ugandans have hypertension; Hypertension is, for the most part, a ‘painless condition’; only 7% know they have it; of those who know, only half are on treatment; of those on treatment, only half are ‘controlled’)
-Treating and controlling blood sugar (for people with diabetes)
-Reducing/moderating alcohol intake