Are You AT Aware?

 By: Ng Peng Hock
What is AT? You may ask. AT stands for Atherothrombosis that is largely unrecognized by the people on the street. AT is a global disease that can lead to heart attack, stroke, or peripheral arterial disease (PAD) which requires amputation.

AT starts when deposits such as cholesterol build up in the walls of our arteries. These deposits, more commonly known as plaque, gradually restrict the flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. As blood flows over the plaque, stress and wear forces are exerted on the plaque surface. Just like a time bomb, the plaque may eventually rupture. This acute event causes platelets in the blood to stick to the plaque and to other platelets forming a blood clot. This clot can restrict or completely stop the flow of blood to part of the heart or brain, giving rise to a heart attack or stroke. Diabetes, hypertension, and old age can also lead to AT. It is, therefore, critical to treat atherothrombosis and reduce the risk of a life-threatening clot forming.

Heart patients should particularly be aware that, if they have suffered from a heart attack before, they also have a condition that may affect the whole body including the brain and legs. Statistics show that heart attack patients are not only 5 times more likely to suffer a repeat heart attack than the general population; their risk of getting a stroke is tripled. Heart attack patients are also at an increased risk of developing PAD. According to the statistics from Reach Registry, a worldwide survey of AT patients, around 1 in 8 outpatients with stable AT will die because of heart attack, stroke, or be hospitalized for a complication arising from AT within a year.

If you are still healthy, then to reduce your AT risk, you should
- go for regular light exercise
- eat a healthy and balanced diet
- maintain an ideal weight
- avoid excessive alcohol intake
- go for regular health screening
- prevent stress
- quit or avoid smoking

If you are heart patient, you should seek medications to control diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol, as well as medications such as aspirin or any other proven natural treatments or alternatives to reduce stickiness of platelets, in addition to the above suggestions. If necessary, you can also look for counseling which can help you readjust your lifestyle.

These are not really new advices yet how many of us will really follow? But considering the consequences of AT, you probably will change your mind and start changing your lifestyle from today.
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