Public Lecture Shares Warning Signs of Heart Attacks
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Over 100 attended a public lecture about heart attacks by Nursing Lecturer Md Khairulamin Sungkai on 24th May 2017 held at the Lecture hall of the PAPRSB Instutute of Health Sciences (IHS).

Laying out the facts, Md Khairulamin made clear the distinction between real heart attacks and the ones often portrayed in movies, which typically shows the sufferer grasping at his chest and collapsing soon after. "Warning signs can appear up to two years before a heart attack occurs," he highlights to his captive audience made up of government and non-government staff, students and members of the public.

By definition, a heart attack happens when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or completely blocked by fatty plaque and blood clot. And non-modifiable factors such as age, gender and genetics contribute greatly to the chances of a person experiencing a heart attack. Statistically, men are at higher risk and Md Khairulamin points out they would account for up to eight out of 10 people admitted into hospital due to heart attack.

In her welcoming remarks, Dean of PAPRSHB IHS Dr Hjh Rafidah Hj Gharif applauded Md Khairulamin's initiative to hold the public lecture as the rise of non-communicable diseases in Brunei Darussalam is worrying. She recommended those over the age of 40 to get regular health screenings and encouraged everybody present to practice a healthy lifestyle for the prevention of various non-communicable diseases.

In Brunei Darussalam, non-communicable diseases such as coronary disease is the second leading cause of death after cancer and heart attack is also the second cause of death among cardiovascular diseases. It was also reported that the admission rate for cardiac surgery, angiogram and angioplasty are also increasing every year.

Md Khairulamin pointed out a worrying trend where heart attack cases have begun involving people below the age of 30 where previously people over the age of 40 would be at risk. He himself suffered one a few months after he turned 40 years old.

In addition to previously mentioned factors, modifiable factors that contribute to the probability of a heart attack include diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, smoking, physical inactivity, obesity and unhealthy diet.

Reported cases where people under 30 suffered heart attacks were found to have been due to supplement abuse. According to information from the Ministry of Health, the uncontrolled use of steroids along with other supplements have caused someone as young as 25 years old to suffer a heart attack in 2015. The nursing lecturer explained that anabolic steroids damages the heart by decreasing High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) known as "good" cholesterol and increasing Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) known as "bad" cholesterol.

Among early warning signs Md Khairulamin shared during the lecture were unexplained weakness or fatigue, fatigue during light activity that might cause shortness of breath, feeling chilly particularly towards the evening, lightheadedness, unusual sleepiness and pale complexion. He advised that anybody experiencing any of the signs should get checked as an impending heart attack may be around the corner.

Late warning signs that require immediate attention include unbearable sharp chest pain; numbness or pain in the hands, neck and/or jaw; profuse sweating even without activity, shortness of breath despite light activity; palpitations that may include skipping heart beats and throbbing in the neck; indigestion that may often be mistaken for an upset stomach, especially in the elderly; nausea and the feeling of needing to vomit.

A cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) demonstration then followed by members of PAPRSB IHS who were recently certified by the American Heart Association. Those present were given the chance to learn and practice so that they may one day be able to help others in the case of emergencies.

Founded in 2000, PAPRSB IHS has expanded beyond solely providing medical training, remaining relevant to the rapidly changing needs of the country by working closely with the Ministry of Health.

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