Ischemic Heart Disease: Jordan’s silent killer

Heart disease
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AMMAN — Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD) goes by many names including, Coronary Heart Disease (not to be confused with congenital heart disease) and Coronary Artery Disease (CAD).اضافة اعلان

IHD is a noncommunicable disease, meaning it cannot be spread through human-to-human contact, and despite this, is a leading cause of death around the world.

As of 2020, approximately 1.72 percent of the world’s population is affected by IHD, and nine million deaths were caused by IHD.

Within a population, it affects more men than women and progresses with age. Globally, IHD is the leading cause of death, disability, and decreased quality of life, and Jordan is no exception.

What is IHD?

Ischemic Heart Disease falls under the broader umbrella of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Of all CVDs, IHD is the most common internationally. Typically, IHD manifests as a heart attack in many.

Scientifically, IHD is the buildup of plaque along the walls of the arteries that supply the heart with blood. The plaque is made of cholesterol as well as other bio substances that deposit themselves along the inner lining of arteries.

Over time, this build up results in an occlusion (narrowing), which can either be partial or complete. This process is referred to as atherosclerosis.

Signs and symptoms of IHD:

Signs and symptoms of a disease are often helpful. They tell us that there is something wrong happening inside our bodies that will cue us into checking with our healthcare professionals.

What makes IHD extremely concerning is a surprisingly large number of cases that are “silent”.

Silent cases refer to individuals observing no noticeable differences in their health until a catastrophic event or complication occurs.

In IHD, this event is typically a heart attack and is associated with a high rate of mortality. As a result, if you experience any symptoms associated with a heart attack, you are highly urged to seek immediate, professional help.

Acute or sudden signs and symptoms associated with IHD events primarily consists of angina (sudden chest pain).

Although there are different types of anginas and the subjective perception of pain is different among individuals, angina is typically associated with extreme pressure and tightness in the chest, as well as difficulty breathing.

Unfortunately, women, who have a naturally higher pain tolerance, and individuals with obesity, may have difficulty perceiving the pain associated with angina.

Individuals belonging to this population have described the pain as indigestion/heart burn.

Due to the unreliability of chest pain as an indicator, other symptoms in conjunction with perceived pain may help to identify acute events.

Other signs and symptoms include radiation of pain into the left arm and neck, cold sweats, and dizziness or light-headedness.

Individuals with chronic or long-term IHD tend to experience symptoms regularly in the form of angina, shortness of breath with physical activity, fatigue, and neck pain.

Complications of IHD:

Complications of IHD are known to be life-threatening and may lead to permanent disability.

The major complication of IHD is acute coronary syndrome, which includes heart attack and angina. Furthermore, IHD may also lead to:

Arrythmia: Disruption of heart rhythm resulting in irregular pumping of the blood and beating of heart.

Heart Failure: A condition that describes the heart’s inability to circulate blood at optimal capacity.

Cardiogenic Shock: A broad term used to describe the heart’s inability to pump blood to vital organs.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest: complete cessation of heart function resulting in no circulation of blood throughout the body. Not to be confused with heart attacks, in which blood flow is only stopped to portions of the heart but not to the rest of the body.

Health risks:

Risk factors are a set of conditions or criteria that increase your chances of developing a certain disease later in life.

Risk factors may be a result of lifestyle choices such as smoking, but risk factors may also include things that cannot be changed such as sex, age, ethnicity, and genetics.

Since IHD is associated with high cholesterol, many poor lifestyle choices may be a direct factor. Factors include being physically inactive, unhealthy eating habits or patterns, and even stress, which may result in binge eating.

Furthermore, smoking is associated with multiple cardiovascular complications and is therefore a direct factor.

In terms of inherent risks that cannot be changed, not much can be done in terms of prevention, but being mindful of possible development may lead to early detection, in which case proper management is the best course of action.

Inherent risk factors include age. For men, risk increases for those who are above 45.

Premenopausal women are at lower risk than men, but after the age of 55, the risk increases. Genetic dispositions and family history are also seen as a risk factor, especially if a male was diagnosed with IHD before the age of 55 or a female before 65.

There are other medical conditions that can increase your risk of IHD.

Most notably seen in diabetics, but other conditions such as high blood pressure (hypertension), high LDL cholesterol levels (“bad cholesterol”), obesity, chronic kidney disease, and certain autoimmune diseases are all seen as risk factors for IHD.

IHD in Jordan:

As of 2019, IHD is responsible for approximately 19 percent of all deaths in Jordan.

Although this percentage is relatively low in comparison to our neighboring countries, IHD is still our primary cause of death by a substantial margin.

Data relating to IHD in Jordan is scarce, suggesting that not much in the way of health reform has been done. In fact, through preliminary investigations, only one specific health reform was enacted by the government in regards to IHD.

This reform calls for the application of screening programs in patients with existing diabetes as a form of early detection for compilations, one of which being IHD.

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