Article : Malady Mimics Heart Attack

Discussion in 'Health and medical' started by e = \( r e u B e n \) ², Sep 20, 2003.

  1. Chest pain that feels like someone is sitting on your chest, could be a
    heart attack caused by blocked arteries or another condition that is
    potentially just as deadly.

    Ellin Wentzell remembers how sudden bouts of debilitating chest pain used to
    ruin many days.

    She says, "I could be taking a walk or weeding my garden and be fine and all
    of a sudden it would just happen."

    Intense pain and shortness of breath landed Ellin in the emergency room many
    times but she was always sent home without answers.

    "Is this really happening?" she would ask herself. "Is it in my head?"

    Concerned because her father and brother had heart attacks, Ellin went to
    Mayo Clinic where Dr. Amir Lermann suggested that she keep a journal.

    Dr. Lerman found that Ellin's symptoms were caused by a problem of the
    endothelium, or lining of the arteries.

    He says, "The presence of endothelial dysfunction, even without blockages of
    the arteries, is a predictor to having major events such as heart attack,
    stroke, and heart failure."

    The endothelium is a layer of cells that separates blood from the artery
    wall. When it's healthy it releases substances that help regulate blood
    flow. If it's not healthy, if it's damaged by exposure to risk factors such
    as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, or possibly genetic
    factors, the release of substances becomes imbalanced. That imbalance might
    cause the arteries to constrict, cutting off blood supply to the heart.

    Now Ellin can reduce her risk of heart attack with medications that help the
    endothelium function better.

    In addition to impeding blood flow by causing arteries to constrict or
    spasm, endothelial dysfunction is considered to be the early stage of
    hardening of the arteries.