Heart attacks can happen to any of us, for a variety of reasons, so it is always good to know the signs and symptoms so you can minimise the damage that they can cause. If you’ve suffered damage caused by a heart attack, or you’re suffering from another cardiovascular disease, a heart surgeon in London could help with recovery. Read on to find out more about how you can spot the signs of a heart attack, and how you can minimise the risk.
What causes a heart attack?
Heart attacks happen when the circulation of blood to your heart is suddenly interrupted. This interruption can cause serious damage, as the muscles need a blood supply to function – if this flow to the heart is stopped for any reason, the muscles can begin to die. Therefore, it is so important that anyone that suspects they’re having a heart attack seeks treatment so that they can limit any long-lasting damage. A more serious heart attack, in which a large part of the heart is damaged in this way, can lead to cardiac arrest – which can be fatal.
There are a few other factors that can cause the heart to be damaged in this way such as:
- Coronary heart disease – This is the leading cause of heart disease. It happens when major arteries become clogged with deposits of cholesterol. When one of the deposits bursts, it causes a blood clot to form, meaning blood can’t flow freely to the heart – resulting in a heart attack.
- Drug misuse – less common, but stimulants can cause the vessels in our heart to narrow, which then restricts circulation to the heart and can result in a sudden heart attack.
- Lack of oxygen in the blood – This can happen due to loss of normal lung function or poisoning from carbon monoxide. The heart receives unoxygenated blood, which triggers a heart attack.
To reduce the impact of damage, you must act quickly if you suspect you’re suffering from a heart attack. Knowing the symptoms could potentially save your, or someone else’s life. Read on to find out what to look for in a suspected heart attack.
Symptoms of a heart attack
There are a few symptoms to look out for that can help you become aware of a heart attack. The main and most common symptom experienced by both women and men is tight, heavy chest pain that can feel like squeezing. In addition to this, it can feel like the pain in your chest is moving down your arms and into your stomach and back.
As well as this chest pain, a heart attack may make itself known by causing feelings of dizziness, struggling to catch a breath, and coughing or wheezing. If you or someone close to you has these symptoms, it is essential that you seek medical help immediately.
What to do if you think you’re suffering a heart attack
The best way to get medical help if you’re suffering from a heart attack is to call 999. Whilst you wait for an ambulance, you should rest – panicking and moving around only puts more stress on the heart. As well as this, if you have aspirin to hand, chewing a tablet and swallowing can help to thin the blood and aid circulation being restored to the heart.
Making yourself or anyone else suffering a heart attack comfortable is essential – it is best to sit down either on a chair or on the floor whilst you’re waiting for help. This means less strain on the heart, as well as being less likely to get injured if you collapse during the attack.
Thankfully, heart attacks can be treated in many different ways, so following the above steps puts you in the best position when it comes to minimising the damage a blocked artery has caused.
How to prevent a heart attack
Knowing how to recognise a heart attack is great when it comes to the best chance of survival, and lessening the chance of damage, however, knowing how to prevent a heart attack is the best place to start. There are three main things that you can do to reduce your chance of suffering from a heart attack:
- A healthy diet – Eating foods that are high in fat will lead to the clogging of your arteries, and restrict blood flow to your heart, which then increases your risk of a heart attack. You should make the necessary changes to your diet to decrease your risk and maintain a healthy heart. Introducing vegetables, fruit, fish, and bread into your diet will have a positive effect on your body and overall well-being.
- Quit Smoking – smoking raises blood pressure, as well as increases your risk of various cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure and stroke. Stopping smoking can be a hugely positive lifestyle change.
- Weight – Being overweight puts more strain on your heart, which in turn, puts you at more of a risk of developing heart conditions. Calculate if you need to lose weight using a BMI calculator and make the lifestyle changes necessary to help you achieve this. Losing even a small amount of weight can help improve your health. You could even try to implement some low impact exercise to keep your heart in good condition too.