About one in every five Filipinos die each year because of heart disease. This is a sad reality that has been perennially staring us all direct in the eyes for so many years now.
In the year 2022 11-month (excluding December) data gathered by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), ischemic heart disease, or the weakening of the heart caused by reduced blood flow, was responsible for 103,628 deaths, or 18.4 percent of the total cause of mortality in the country. Despite advances in medicine and technology, this modern-day curse persists not only in the Philippines but also worldwide.
Many years ago, the common victims of this disease belong to the older age bracket of 50 and above. Today, patients as young as in their 30’s is not uncommon. Fortunately, like every proverbial dark cloud, there are now silver linings when it comes to heart attack.
First, heart attacks need not be a death or disability sentence anymore. When the patient is brought immediately for proper care in a medical facility, the chance of survival is great. In a nutshell, survival from a heart attack episode depends on the time the patient is brought to the doctor after it occurred.
For example, for patients requiring an angioplasty, when this procedure is performed within what we call the Golden Period or four hours after the attack, the chance of survival is good as much as the heart muscle can be saved from permanent damage. Thus, in any heart attack, every second counts and every minute spells either life or death. Time decides what needs to be done immediately and next to save the heart, life even function of the patient. This is especially true with the proper care that may involve a team of multi-specialty doctors including rehabilitative and preventive cardiology physicians, a heart attack patient can be saved, revived and returned to normal. Parang walang nangyari.
Second, being mindful and alert of the warning signs of a heart attack is a lifesaver. People must not be over-confident whenever they do not feel anything wrong in their body. For, deep inside their body may lurk the silent groundworks for the eventual heart failure. The key is, we must always be careful with our heart and watch out for our lifestyle and take note of the elements like smoking, fatty food diet, lack of exercise and sleep, family history, among others.
The secret to combatting deaths due to heart disease requires the teamwork of both patients and their doctors. We, as cardiologists, on our part are happy that modern science and medicine have enabled us to have at our disposal better care armaments. For example, we now have an injectable formula that is found more effective in lowering cholesterol which is one of the leading risk factors for heart failure.
That this new and modern treatment modalities do not translate to better heart failure outcomes can be simply attributed to that fact that, whatever strides science and medicine accomplish, the fast-changing lifestyle dynamics counter. Think about how our daily living landscape has transmogrified into the proliferation of unhealthy diet, ubiquitous fast foods, prolonged tinkering with our cellular phones and laptops, extended socials with friends and peers in bars, self-imposed sleep deprivation and adapting to it, and many others.
In many other instances, patients confuse chest pains as being simply caused by hyperacidity or acid reflux that they self- medicate. In this regard, the general rule to note is that chest pains resulting from performing an activity or exerting physical effort might be early signs of heart failure. For example, when you suddenly feel shortness of breath when doing a regular length of walk or flight of stairs may be warning signs that you have to go to your doctor immediately. Kung yung kotse nga nadadala mo sa casa every five kilometers of travel, sariling katawan mo pa kaya? A regular visit to your doctor will be best.
Dr. Ariel A. Miranda is an Interventional Cardiologist, the Head of the Cardiovascular Catheterization & Interventional Laboratory of Cardinal Santos Medical Center (CSMC), and the Chairman of CSMC’s Cardiovascular Institute (CVI). To inquire about the CVI’s services, call +02 87280001 ext. 9999 / 09616423520 / 09776728398.