What To Do If You Suffer A Heart Attack?

Overview | Silent Attacks | Signs of silent attack | What To Do? | Causes | Symptoms | Risks factors | Complications | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention

What do you mean by a heart attack? 

We often have seen so many heart attacks in movies, but it’s not exactly resembles a real one.

Heart attack, also called myocardial infarctions in medical terms, is a severe health problem.

A heart attack occurs when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked or stops. The excess of fat, cholesterol, and other such substances creates plaque build-up in the arteries, which acts as a blockage. The arteries which supply blood to the heart, due to plaque blockage, unable to supply blood.

Sometimes, a plaque can rupture and form a clot that blocks the blood flow to the heart. The interrupted blood flow can lead to a damage or even destroy that part of the heart muscles.  

Fact: In every 40 seconds, someone has  a heart attack in the US.

What is called a ‘Silent heart attack’?

The silent heart attack is nothing but a heart attack without any symptoms. The plaque present in coronary arteries can significantly or completely cut off the blood flow. The longer your heart have no blood supply, the much damage your heart have to suffer. Some people have all the symptoms of heart attack, which makes easier for others to recognize and treat it. But, some people have no or slight symptoms. You may even don’t know that you are having a heart attack. The silent attacks is as deadly as the general one, even in some cases, silent attacks can be considered as the more severe one because one can’t even recognize it.

The 4 prominent signs of silent heart attack are —

  • Chest pain, discomfort, pressure and fullness
  • Pain and discomfort in your stomach, neck, jaw, back and one or both of your arms.
  • Difficulty breathing and dizziness
  • Nausea and cold sweats

What to do if someone is suffering a heart attack in front of you?

If someone get a heart attack, first of all, call emergency medical helpline number immediately. Then check the sufferer is breathing and having a pulse or not. If not, then you should immediately begin the CPR. If you are trained in CPR, then go with the procedure, but if don’t, then follow this —

Push hard and fast on the sufferer’s chest in a rapid rhythm, about 100 – 120 times a minute. If possible, you can also go on to opening the airways and rescue breathing to the sufferer.

Causes of heart attack:

  •  Coronary artery disease (blockage of arteries due to plaque)
  • Spasm of a coronary arteries
  • COVID – 19 infection 
  • Blood clots
  • Bad lifestyle habits
  • Obesity
  • Poor food consumption such as junk food etc.

Symptoms of heart attack:

  • Chest pain
  • Discomfort
  • Feeling of squeezing, pressure and aching in the chest
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Pain that spreads to arms, neck, jaws or back
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Heart burn or indigestion feeling
  • Feeling of crushing and heaviness in the chest
  • Upper body pain
  • Anxiety similar to panic attack
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing or wheezing if fluid build up in the lungs

Heart attack symptoms can last several days or may come up suddenly. Men and women may have different symptoms while having heart attack. Heart attack can also trigger some other health conditions, such as:

  1. Cardiogenic shocks
  2.  Hypoxemia
  3. Pulmonary edema

Risks factors:

  • Age: Men of 45 years of age or older, and women of 55 years of age or older are likely to have heart attacks.
  • Smoking: Active and passive both.
  • High blood pressure: Prolonged high blood pressure can damage your coronary arteries that lead to heart attack. High blood pressure followed by other health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol etc. Can increase your risk of heart attack even more.
  • High cholesterol ( LDL): High level of LDL can increase the risk of heart attack undoubtedly. Cholesterol is one of the elements which acts as a blockers of your coronary arteries. However, high level of HDL can decrease the risk.
  • Sex: Men have higher risk of getting heart attack than women.
  • Obesity: Do you know, by losing just 10 % of your body weight can decrease the risk of getting heart attack. You may know better that why and how you become obese.
  • Diabetes: By not having an enough amount of insulin or not properly responding towards it, results as high sugar level or even diabetes, which can adversely affect your heart, and may cause heart attack.
  • Metabolic syndrome: This syndrome develops due to diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol levels etc. This syndrome can double your risk of getting a heart attack.

Some other risk factors are:

  • Stress
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Family history
  • Drug consumption
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Preeclampsia
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco
  • Unhealthy diet etc.

Complications:

The damage caused to your heart due to heart attack leads some complications, such as:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Sudden cardiac arrest
  • Edema
  • Heart failure
  • Angina
  • Leaks in heart valves
  • Aneurysm
  • Depression
  • Myocardial rupture etc.

And many other long – term effects

Diagnosis:

Your treatment plan which is prepared by your doctors is prepared by keeping some factors in mind, i.e.

  • Your age
  • Your health
  • Your medical history
  • Your family history

Some tests that can be done to diagnose your heart attack risks are as follows:

  • Imaging tests (MRI, CT scan, X – ray) 
  • Echocardiograms
  • Electrocardiography: To measure electrical activity in the heart
  • Blood test: Through this, your doctor can confirm that you had a heart attack or not.
  • Cardiac catheterization: Through this, your doctor can easily examine your heart from inside.

Treatment: heart attack is a life-threatening condition and needs medical treatment immediately. If you are witnessing someone getting a heart attack, then call the emergency medical helpline number immediately. Then you can perform CPR as mentioned above. Or you can use an automatic external defibrillator  (AED), if available.

Some medical treatment options are:

  • Medications
  • Percutaneous coronary intervention
  • Angioplasty
  • Stent
  • Coronary artery bypass grafting (heart bypass)
  • Heart valve surgery
  • Pacemaker
  • Heart transplant

Prevention:

  • If you already had a heart attack, still you can prevent another one. Just take your medication as prescribed by your doctor and always on time.
  • Learn stress management
  • Exercise regularly
  • Have a healthy diet including fruits and veggies
  • Don’t consume unhealthy food that can increase your blood sugar, blood pressure, and bad cholesterol.
  • Keep your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol level under control.
  • Avoid smoking and tobacco
  • Avoid alcohol consumption
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