The very mention of ‘heart attack’ (myocardial infarction or MI), gets the chest thumping, causes a sweat and brings on nausea, but what are the facts when it comes to the dreaded words, and why is it so important to prevent one from happening? Heart disease is the number one killer in the USA for both men and women, with the disease claiming 1 million lives annually. Wake up and realize that being added to this statistic is a probability if we do not change certain habits and daily routines. Claiming more lives than all forms of cancers combined, the heart is something to protect and not in the romantic way. The Heart Foundation states that every 34 seconds someone has a heart attack and every 60 seconds, someone in the U.S. dies from a heart disease related event.
WHAT IS HEART DISEASE?
Heart disease has many factors, there is not a one-line answer, but many factors and contributors need to be diagnosed. Heart disease is a broad term and covers many different areas,for example:
- Coronary artery disease, plaque/atherosclerosis, is mainly a build up of fat, cholesterol and calcium in the coronary arteries, blocking oxygen rich blood to the main heart muscle. The build up can be so severe it may lead to sudden cardiac death.
- Peripheral Arterial Disease occurs when major arteries that supply blood to the legs, arms and pelvis become obstructed. This can cause, numbness, pain and major infections.
- Carotid Artery Disease is when plaque buildup or a clot forms in the main carotid arteries around the neck, which could result in a stroke.
- Heart rhythm disorders
- Congenital heart defects (heart defects from birth)
HEART ATTACK WARNING SIGNS IN MEN
The following is a guideline for common signs of a heart attack in men. Be aware that each individual may suffer from a varied form of the below. If in doubt, then act and call 911.
- Chest pain, which may spread to the back, neck, jaw and arms
- Shortness of breath
- Unusual tiredness a few days before an attack
- Feeling of gas or indigestion
- Feeling dizzy
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pounding of heart
- Loss of consciousness
HEART ATTACK WARNING SIGN IN WOMEN
Although women and men share many of the same symptoms, they differ when it comes to signs of a heart attack. Women are less likely to spot the early signs of an attack and will often try to ignore the fact they need urgent help.
- Pain or a feeling of discomfort in both arms, back, jaw or stomach
- Chest pain or tightness in chest (most common symptom in both sexes)
- Shortness of breath
- Tight pressure in chest that lasts longer than a few minutes
- Cold sweats, nausea or lightheadedness
WHAT TO DO IF SOMEONE IS HAVING A HEART ATTACK?
If suspecting someone is having a heart attack call 911 immediately, time is crucial and acting fast can triple the chances of survival. Whist waiting for the ambulance, there are a number of possible measure to try and save a life.
- If possible, get the victim to chew and swallow an aspirin (ideally 300mg), ensuring there isn’t an allergy before administering. The aspirin will thin the blood and reduce the risk of having a major heart attack.
- If the person is unconscious, open the airway , check for breathing and begin CPR.
- If the patient is conscious, have them sit up to put less stress on the heart
RECOVERING AFTER A HEART ATTACK
If fortunate to recover from a heart attack, depending on how serious the attack and how healthy the person, determines the amount of time recovery takes. It may take a number of months to feel better, so the key is not to rush the process. There are a number of professionals who will be there to support the healing process including:
- Exercise specialists
Physical and mental strength will be worked on while in hospital, and this care will be closely monitored once returning to the home environment. Analyzing habits and lifestyle along with required lifestyle changes are crucial to aid recovery and stop future heart attacks. The patient’s situation will affect the specific program assigned. Exercise will be gentle at first and steadily increase the stronger the person becomes. It is essential to follow the guidelines given by the professionals.
Having a heart attack is not only a terrifying health wake up call, it may lead to mental issues. It is a life-changing occurrence and patients may suffer from anxiety or even depression after the event. Making sure that mental health is in check is just as crucial, so any feelings of anxiety or depression must be disclosed to a professional. Mental health may also be linked to the physical recovery and overall well being.
The patients diet will be analyzed and the following suggestions may be advised:
- Mediterranean-Style diet (Lyon Diet Heart Study, which found that a Mediterranean-style diet cut heart attacks and deaths by 70% compared with a traditional American Heart Association diet, says Dr. Willett).
- Oily Fish, including salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel, sardines and herring.
- Poultry (without skin)
- Olive oil
- Drastically reduce meat butter, cream and sugars
To read more about heart disease please visit: GetThrive.com