Heart Attack-Want to know more about Heart Attack?
Heart attack occurs when, the blood supply that normally nourishes the heart with oxygen is cut off and the heart muscle begins to die. Heart attacks — also called myocardial infarctions — are very common in the United States. In fact, it’s estimated that one happens every 40 seconds.
Fast facts on heart attacks:
- During a heart attack, the heart muscle loses blood supply and is damaged.
- Chest discomfort and pain are common symptoms.
- The risk of a heart attack increases when a man is over 45 and a woman is over 55.
- Smoking and obesity are big factors, particularly in the at-risk age range.
If some of the heart muscle dies, a person experiences chest pain and electrical instability of the heart muscle tissue.
There are clear symptoms of a heart attack that require immediate medical attention.
A feeling of pressure, tightness, pain, squeezing, or aching in the chest or arms that spreads to the neck, jaw, or back can be a sign that a person is having a heart attack.
The following are other possible signs and symptoms of a heart attack occurring:
- crushing chest pain
- shortness of breath called dyspnea
- face seeming gray in color
- a feeling of terror that life is ending
- feeling awful, generally
- feeling clammy and sweaty
- shortness of breath
Changing position does not alleviate the pain of a heart attack. The pain a person feels is normally constant, although it may sometimes come and go.
While the symptoms listed above are all linked to heart attacks, there are four warning signs listed by the American Heart Association (AHA) as being crucial signs of an attack. These include:
- discomfort, pressure, squeezing, or fullness in the chest that lasts several minutes or resolves then returns
- pain or discomfort in the arms, neck, back, stomach, or jaw
- sudden shortness of breath
Other signs can include a cold sweat, a sick or nauseous feeling, or being lightheaded.
When a person has these symptoms, the emergency services should be called immediately.
The following factors are associated with increased risk of a heart attack:
- Age: Heart attacks are more likely when a man is over 45, and when a woman is over 55.
- Angina: This causes chest pain due to lack of oxygen or blood supply to the heart.
- High cholesterol levels: These can increase the chance of blood clots in the arteries.
- Diabetes: This can increase heart attack risk.
- Diet: For example, consuming large quantities of saturated fats can increase the likelihood of a heart attack.
- Genetics: A person can inherit a higher risk of heart attack.
- Heart surgery: This can lead to a heart attack later on.
- Hypertension: High blood pressure can put unnecessary strain on the heart.
- Obesity: Being significantly overweight can put pressure on the heart.
- Smoking: Smokers are at much higher risk than non-smokers.
- HIV: People who are HIV-positive have a 50 percent higher risk.
- Work stress: Those who are shift workers or have stressful jobs can face a higher heart attack risk.
Physical inactivity is a factor in heart attack risk, and the more active people are, the lower their risk of having a heart attack.
Often, when it occurs, a heart attack is caused by a combination of factors, rather than a single one.
There are two types of complications that can happen following heart attack. The first occurs pretty much straightaway and the second happens later on.
- Arrhythmias: the heart beats irregularly, either too fast or too slowly.
- Cardiogenic shock: a person’s blood pressure drops suddenly and the heart cannot supply enough blood for the body to work adequately.
- Hypoxemia: levels of oxygen in the blood become too low.
- Pulmonary edema: fluid accumulates in and around the lungs.
- DVT or deep vein thrombosis: the deep veins of the legs and pelvis develop blood clots that either block or interrupt the flow of blood in the vein.
- Myocardial rupture: the heart attack damages the wall of the heart, meaning an increased risk of a heart wall rupture.
- Ventricular aneurysm: a heart chamber, known as a ventricle, forms a bulge.
Complications that can occur later
- Aneurysm: scar tissue builds up on the damaged heart wall, leading to blood clots, low blood pressure, and abnormal heart rhythms.
- Angina: not enough oxygen reaches the heart, causing chest pain.
- Congestive heart failure: the heart can only beat very weakly, leaving a person feeling exhausted and breathless.
- Edema: fluid accumulates in the ankles and legs, causing them to swell.
- Loss of erectile function: erectile dysfunction is generally caused by a vascular problem. However, it can also be the result of depression.
- Loss of libido: a loss of sexual drive can happen, especially in the case of men.
- Pericarditis: the lining of the heart becomes inflamed, causing serious chest pain.
Treatments during a heart attack
- manual chest compressions
- a defibrillator
Treatments following a heart attack
It is important that a doctor monitors a person for several months after they have had a heart attack to check for any of these complications that may occur.
Most people will need several kinds of medications or treatments after a heart attack. The aim of these measures is to prevent future heart attacks occurring. They may include:
- aspirin and other anti platelets
- beta blockers
- ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors
- CABG or coronary artery bypass graft
While there are many risk factors that are out of your control, there are still some basic steps you can take to keep your heart healthy. Smoking is a major cause of heart disease. Starting a smoking cessation program can reduce your risk. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, and limiting your alcohol intake are other important ways to reduce your risk.
If you have diabetes, be sure to take your medications and check your blood glucose levels regularly. If you have a heart condition, work closely with your doctor and take your medication. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about your risk of a heart attack.