SIGNS OF A HEART ATTACK
Thousands of Americans, mostly men over the age of 40, die each year due to coronary-artery disease. Be mindful, however, that heart disease is not just a male problem; heart disease is one of the leading causes of hospitalization for women as well.
Heart attacks, officially called myocardial infarctions, results from injury to the heart muscle when its blood and subsequently oxygen supply is cut off or reduced. Pumping ability may return to normal once healing is complete, If only a small amount of heart muscle was damaged. More severe injury may leave lasting damage.
Tragically, many heart attack deaths occur within minutes or hours. This sometimes happens even before the person reaches the hospital. If a person feels that he or she may be experiencing any sign of heart palpitations, or heart attack it is URGENT to seek medical attention by calling 911, and URGENTLY proceeding to the nearest E.R via ambulance. The problem is usually due to a disturbance of the heart rhythm (ventricular fibrillation). A heart that is in fibrillation does not pump enough blood to keep brain cells alive, so the person may suffer brain death even though the original problem, the heart damage, may not have been fatal. What usually happens in a heart attack is that a thrombus or blood clot, blocks a coronary artery halting or significantly limiting the flow of blood.
The key to successful treatment of heart attacks is to get immediate medical aid and to prevent further injury. There is medication that will dissolve the thrombus (clot) and therefore restore blood flow, if given early before damage is permanent. There are many conditions that mimic heart attacks so a diagnosis can only be made with an electrocardiogram - Dr. Susan Biegel's office has electrocardiogram capabilities. These electronic monitors allow for a quick diagnosis of the heart's condition. Lab tests measure cardiac enzymes in the bloodstream that allows the physician to further evaluate heart damage.
The warning signs of a heart attack include:
- Persistent chest pain possibly radiating to the neck, jaw, shoulder or left arm; the pain may not be severe
- Tightness or a squeezing sensation in the chest
- Heaviness that may feel like indigestion
- Sweating, nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- A feeling of weakness
- Fear and apprehension
- Denial - a refusal to believe anything is seriously wrong
If you suspect you or someone else is having a heart attack, NEVER delay in calling for help, thinking that the pain will vanish. Call 911 and get to the hospital at once, not only to avoid sudden death, but also to minimize damage to the heart. All too often, victims of a heart attack, or those who witness one, mistake it for something else like indigestion or a muscle twinge. Lacking a sense of urgency, or denying a suspicion they are afraid to accept, many wait too long before seeking help. "Waiting it out" or waiting to "see what happens next" often has fatal consequences. It is crucial to understand that such denial is one of the signs of heart attack. If the victim does not respond to the situation, someone else must take charge.
What should you do if you are witness to a heart attack:
- First of all, recognize the signals. Expect denial. Take charge.
- Have the person stop all activity and sit or lie down, although semi-sitting is usually the most comfortable.
- Offer reassurance and loosen tight clothing.
- If the person has known heart disease, assist in taking the usual medication if appropriate.
- Call emergency medical services immediately and identify the problem as a possible heart attack.
- Be prepared to begin CPR if cardiac arrest occurs.
Some ways of reducing your heart attack risk include:
- QUIT SMOKING!
Within five years of cessation, former smokers lower their risk by 50 to 70 per cent compared to those still smoking.
- LOWER BLOOD CHOLESTEROL LEVELS.
This also applies to triglyceride levels as well as LDL and HDL levels. You can know what these numbers are with a simple blood test that you can learn to understand.
- EXERCISE MORE.
This can't be overstated. At the very least take a brisk walk for 30 minutes every day, 7 days a week. Workouts in a gym are even better as you have more choices.
- ACHIEVE AND MAINTAIN YOUR DESIRABLE WEIGHT.
You can check your Body Mass Index at this link: BMI Calculator
- TAKE ASPIRIN -
Ask our On-Site medical professionals about taking regular low dose ASA; it is said to achieve a 33 per cent lowering of risk.
- REDUCE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE.
Again, get this checked by a medical professional and know what a normal range is then work to stay within that range.
- If menopausal, consider ESTROGEN REPLACEMENT THERAPY.
Dr. Susan Biegel's office will be glad to speak to you about this - contact us for more information, and a consultation
- If diabetic, try to maintain NORMAL BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS, which may lower heart attack risks.
We have no control over our gender, our genetics, and our heredity; but let's take responsibility for those areas in which we can make a difference. Education is everything! Get involved in being well.