What is a Heart Attack?
The heart is made up of muscle cells which require oxygen to function. However, when there is inadequate supply of oxygen to the heart muscles, they are starved and in just a short period of time, part of the heart can be damaged or die.
Most heart attacks are caused by Coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is when your coronary arteries (the arteries that supply your heart muscle with oxygen-rich blood) become narrowed by a gradual build up of fatty material within their walls (atheroma). If a piece of this fatty material (atheroma) breaks off it may cause a blood clot (blockage) to form. This blockage cuts off the supply of oxygen rich blood and may result in a heart attack.
There are certain signs and symptoms which are key indicators of a heart attack, however, every heart attack could potentially be unique in its symptoms, and how people respond to them.
“I never thought I could have a heart attack”, “I experienced no symptoms prior to the event”, “it happened so quickly”, “it happened so fast”, “it lasted all day”, “it felt like a heart burn or indigestion” … these are some of the highlights from stories of heart attack survivors.
Heart attack symptoms vary from one person to another and has been described differently by different people. Some say its a crushing pain others say it a squeezing sensation, but one thing is concurrent in majority of cases… the heart is in distress and is sending a 911 message seeking help.The most common signs can include:
- Chest pain (Angina)
- Shortness of breath
- feeling weak and/or lightheaded
- overwhelming feeling of anxiety
- Some people especially women, claim they felt heart burn / indigestion
The first thing to do if you think you’re having a heart attack is to call for help immediately and get to a healthcare facility as soon as possible!!!
A heart attack could potentially cause some permanent damage to the heart muscle, but prompt treatment result in improved outcomes. However, if a heart attack damages a significant amount of the heart muscle, this can affect the pumping action of your heart. The term used to describe this is heart failure.
Preventing A Heart attack!!!
Unfortunately, the occurrence of a heart attack puts an individual at risk for another. However, there are certain steps you can take to protect your heart. Being compliant with prescribed medication, following a tailored exercise program, maintain a healthy weight and eat a heart healthy diet. Controlling blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels and stress management are also vital to preventing further heart attacks.
Most importantly, if you are over the age of 40, getting a heart health check is pertinent to assessing your risk of having a heart attack.