Less serious heart attacks seem to follow when chest pain occurs first

Having chest pain that warns of a possible heart attack seems to trigger a protective mechanism in the heart, a recent Minnesota study found. The result is that chest pain experienced during the 24 hours prior to an attack causes heart trauma that is 50 percent less damaging than in people who have no warning pain.

Researchers at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation also learned that with chest pain and the smaller attack that follows, patients have better heart function when they are discharged from the hospital.

The study, published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions, examined data on 245 patients who suffered a first heart attack and underwent angioplasty and stenting. Among them, 79 had chest pains in the 24 hours before their attack.

Jay Traverse, M.D., a research cardiologist at the foundation, said the study doesn’t make clear what effect angioplasty, which is used to clear blocked heart arteries, and stents used to keep the arteries open have on the natural protection that pre-attack chest pains seem to create.

“Even before we began treating heart attack patients with angioplasty and stenting, physicians recognized that patients with chest pain prior to their attack seem to have better outcomes,” Traverse said. “The question, ‘Given faster treatment times for stents, would the protective benefit be maintained?’ still remained.”

The research did not identify what factors may cause a protective effect to take place when chest pain ensue. But researchers have long made the link between lifestyle choices and heart-healthy diets as having an influence on cardiovascular health.

Eating a balanced, Mediterranean style of choices such as fruits, vegetables, olive oil, grains and fish helps keep arteries free of plaque that builds with high fat consumption. Taking dietary supplements such as Vital B-100 from Dr. Newton’s Naturals may help relieve stress, boost cardiovascular function and maintain healthy cholesterol  levels.