BY ROSE RUTH AKONG
The heart is the most important organ in the human body. So when it is unwell, it can be your worst friend.
This organ is responsible for pumping blood to all body parts, which enables the proper functioning of the systems.
“It is heart-breaking that he left us too soon and we noticed his problem too late.
“The doctors did all they could to save him but all in vain as his heart had already stopped. The late David Anywar was my husband, a strong man who unfortunately was an alcoholic and smoker. He, however implored family members not to live the same way he did, because all this caused his heart to fail him,” said Mrs Grace Anywar.
There are various diseases that affect the heart. The most common one is heart attack. It happens when the heart stops functioning normally in the process of coronary arteries becoming blocked whereby over time, the arteries become narrow from the build-up of various substances, including cholesterol. The coronary artery is responsible for transporting oxygenated blood from the heart to the body.
An attack happens when a spasm of the coronary artery shuts down blood flow to parts of the heart muscle. This is like a blockage that stops proper flow of blood into the heart.
According to David Musoke, a surgeon at Gulu Hospital, the use of tobacco and illicit drugs such as cocaine can cause a life-threatening spasm.
Other causes that can lead to a heart attack are old age, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels as well as poor dietary habits, lack of physical activity, and stress, among others.
The symptoms or signs of a heart attack are usually detected late. However, some symptoms or signs like high blood pressure, pain or a squeezing or aching sensation in the chest or arms that may spread to the neck, jaw or back, should not be ignored.
Other signs may include nausea, indigestion, shortness of breath, cold sweat (when one feels hot and cold at the same time) fatigue, lightheadedness or sudden dizziness.
These can be used to identify the heart attack before the situation goes out of hand, to get medication for the affected person in time.
Ruth Akello, a physician at Gulu Hospital, said when a heart attack is detected a patient can be given (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) commonly known as CPR. This helps to keep the blood flowing until they get to the hospital.
“One can also take nitroglycerin aspirin, under the doctor’s instructions, if there is susceptibility to heart attacks.
Self-medication is not encouraged, and everyone should get proper medical attention in case they suspect anything wrong with their health,” she said.