Heart Attack Primer

I think everyone knows that when it comes to helping heart attack victims, time is of the essence. But how do you even know if you’re having a heart attack? And what exactly should you do?

Our hearts pump blood to every part of our body. But even the heart itself needs blood for fresh oxygen. When arteries are blocked, heart tissue can be damaged and die. For the best recovery, blood flow needs to be restored quickly. It’s important to get immediate medical help if you even THINK you might be having a heart attack.

How does it happen? Over time, we can develop blockages on interior blood vessel walls made up of fatty material called plaque. Too much plaque constricts blood flow. According to WebMD, “Most heart attacks happen when a piece of this plaque breaks off. A blood clot forms around the broken-off plaque, and it blocks the artery.”

Symptoms can include pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest, shortness of breath, profuse sweating, feeling faint or nauseated. Some people feel pain in their neck, jaw or shoulders.

Men and women can have different symptoms. Men, for example, are more likely to break out in a cold sweat and feel pain radiate down their left arm.

Women are more likely to have pain in their back or neck, feel a sensation like heartburn, and experience shortness of breath. Women tend to have a stomach ache, upset stomach/queasiness and vomiting. We also can feel very tired, light-headed or dizzy. (In the weeks leading up to a heart attack, women can have flu-like symptoms and sleep issues.)

WebMD suggests: “If you or someone you’re with has symptoms that might be a heart attack, call 911 right away. If it is, you’re more likely to survive if you get treated within 90 minutes. While you’re on the phone, the person should chew and swallow an aspirin (unless they’re allergic) to lower the risk of a blood clot. Are they unconscious? Hands-only CPR can double their chances of survival.”

Locally, anyone can take a hands’ only CPR class through the St. Johns County Fire Rescue. They offer classes at their building on the First Coast Technical College north campus, and sometimes at local libraries. If you put a group together, you can even have someone teach a class at a neighborhood clubhouse or a civic group gathering. The American Red Cross offers classes as well. The more people in the world who know how to do CPR, the better!

Once a person is under medical care, a diagnosis is made via an EKG, which measures your heart’s electrical activity. It can even show which artery is clogged if there is a blockage! Doctors can also diagnose a heart attack with blood work that detects proteins that heart cells release when they die.

According to WebMD, “Doctors will quickly act to get blood flowing to your heart again. You may get drugs that dissolve blood clots. You’ll likely have a procedure called a coronary angiogram. A thin tube with a tiny balloon on the end goes through your artery. It opens up the blockage by flattening the plaque against the walls. Most times, doctors place a small, mesh tube called a stent in your artery to make sure it stays open.” Of course sometimes people need open heart surgery.

And while these procedures have been perfected and most people make a complete recovery, not having a heart attack is always preferable to surviving one!

Our risk of having a heart attack goes up as we age, and men are more prone than women. A family history of heart disease increases our chances. So does smoking!! Other risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, stress, a lack of exercise, and depression.

Prevention is key—and we can take important steps to lower our risk!! Quitting smoking lowers our chances of having a heart attack by a third! Losing enough weight to get out of the “obese” range drastically improved our odds as well. Eating well is important—fruits, veggies, and whole grains can help keep our arteries healthy. (Processed foods are believed to increase inflammation, a top factor in setting us up for trouble.) The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise for 5 days each week. We have to find positive ways to manage our stress. And if you’re at risk, ask your doctor if taking a daily dose of aspirin is right for you.

WebMD assures us that there is life after a heart attack! “If you’re in the hospital, you may come home after just a few days. You can get back to your normal daily life in a few weeks. Cardiac rehab can help you recover. You’ll get your own fitness program and learn how to keep up a heart-healthy lifestyle. Counselors give you support if you’re feeling down or worried about having another attack.”

So now you know—and I hope you never need this information!!

Source: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/ss/slideshow-heart-attack

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy Posted on July 5, 2017

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