Each and every year, you find millions of people fall prey to heart attacks. But then, every year there are also people who survive these heart attacks and go back to their normal life. Research indicates that heart attacks have been the prime cause of deaths among both men and women. With the advancement in technology, excellent treatments have been made available for heart attack patient that could save the lives of many people. Remember that these treatments may work best when given right after the early signs of heart attack occur. Foods to prevent heart diseases can also help in minimizing the risk of heart attack.
What is a Heart Attack?
In medical terms, heart attack is referred to as Myocardial Infarction. ”Myo” refers to muscle,”cardial” refers to the heart and “Infarction” implies death of tissue because of the lack of blood supply. To survive your heart muscle requires oxygen. Heart attack or Myocardial Infarction does happen when the flow of oxygen-rich blood gets blocked to a part of the heart muscle suddenly for long enough time. This results in the death of that part of the heart muscle which does not receive the blood.
Causes of Heart Attack:
Often heart attacks occur as a result of Coronary Artery Disease or Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). Coronary arteries supply the blood flow to the heart muscle. If cholesterol, fat, and other substances, which together called as plague, builds up inside the coronary arteries, then it could slowly narrow down the coronary arteries. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. A blood clot forms around the plaque if the plague breaks open in the artery and this blood clot could then mostly or completely impedes the blood flow to the heart muscle. The blockage causes the heart muscle to starve for oxygen and nutrients, which is known as ischemia. This blockage needs to be treated quickly. If not, it leads to the death of the part of the heart muscle, and it is called the heart attack. The main risk factors for getting heart attack are high level of cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. Stress can also trigger a heart attack. Family history is another important risk factor. The risk of heart attacks is more if it is heredity. Uncontrollable risk factors are older age, post-menopausal, race, and family history of heart disease.
Symptoms of Heart Attack:
Common heart attack signs for both men and women are:
- Shortness of breath
- Sweating, sudden dizziness, or vomiting
- Fullness, indigestion, or heartburn
- Pressure, pain, or discomfort in your arms or chest or below the breastbone.
- Irregular or rapid heartbeats.
- Feeling tired for no reason
Seek immediate medical attention, if you identify any of these symptoms. People may or may not get these symptoms since some of them have a heart attack without any symptoms at all. This silent heart attack is called silent MI that is more familiar in diabetic patients.
About silent Heart Attack:
A heart attack can occur even without a person knowing it. This is called a silent heart attack. The person will have no or minimal or unrecognized symptoms in case of silent heart attack. The risk factors for the silent heart attack are similar to those for recognized heart attack. You can decrease the risk of getting heart attack by knowing your risk factors, quitting smoking and doing regular exercise.
Heart Attack Warning Signs that should Never be Ignored:
Given below are the warning signs of heart attack in men and women of all ages that should not be ignored.
Shortness of breath:
If you find that you are breathless or have a racing heart rate when you walk up the stairs or when doing any daily tasks, it might be a warning sign of heart disease. In some cases, these symptoms could also be a result of asthma or a panic attack. But panic attacks do come suddenly and pass within a few minutes. You should not ignore if breathlessness starts slowly and lingers.
Dizziness or lightheadedness:
If you feel shaky or faint for no reason at all, then it could mean that your heart is not getting enough blood. You should pay attention to this sign, especially if you have a cold sweat and shortness of breath.
Sudden cold sweats for no reason could indicate a heart attack symptom.
Prior or during a heart attack, many women experience a sense of fear and are aware of something being wrong. However, they are not aware of how to deal with it. Often women relate this to stress rather than heart attack since their lives are too hectic.
Nausea or vomiting:
Nausea, vomiting, stomach ache and cramps are often reported by women having a heart attack. They may also be the result of food poisoning or stomach flu. But do not ignore this warning sign if it comes with other heart attack symptoms like discomfort in your chest and shortness of breath.
Many women have reported extreme fatigue in the months prior to heart attacks, according to a study published in journal Circulation. If it is the usual fatigue, you may miss sleep and have flu. Unlike ordinary fatigue, you will feel so tired that you could barely do your daily tasks without getting some rest. This could indicate that your heart is not getting the blood fast enough because of blockage.
Aching, tingling, pressure or burning in your arms, shoulders, back, jaw, or neck could be a warning sign of heart disease. It may feel like a normal backache. It may also be a dental problem if you have constant pain in your jaw. But pay attention to these warnings if they do not go away.
You can get chest pain and heartburn due to indigestion also. Heartburn pain comes after having meals usually, and it quickly responds to antacids, but it does not radiate to the arms, neck or shoulders. If you have constant pain accompanied with other signs of heart disease like dizziness, lightheadedness or shortness of breath, you could expect it to be a sign of heart disease.
Heart failure could cause fluid accumulation in the body which can cause swelling in the feet, legs often, and sudden weight gain.
The classic symptom of heart attack is chest pain. Often the heart related chest pain may be centered under the breastbone. This symptom is most similar to men’s heart attack. You should not ignore this sign of heart disease if your chest pain persists.
The symptoms of heart disease are different in every individual and vary according to the gender. People often ignore these signs or delay medical assistance, and that is the why heart disease is so deadly.
Heart Attack Diagnosis and Treatment:
It is very essential to consult a doctor if you have any medical concern or if you notice to have any of the heart disease symptoms. A heart specialist or cardiologist performs various tests to diagnose a heart attack. They can identify the areas of blockage and tissue damage with the help of several tests. The doctor decides on the proper treatment with such data.
Prevention of Heart Attack:
Across the globe, the No.1 cause of death today is the cardiovascular disease. The lack of commitment to have a heart-healthy lifestyle is one main reason for this. Make some lifestyle changes and reduce all the controllable risk factors for heart disease. You can stop smoking, eat nutritious food, reduce stress, be active physically, reduce your blood cholesterol, manage stress, limit alcohol, control diabetes and lower high blood pressure. So start now to access your risk factors and work to keep them low, especially if you are above 40.
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