There is an avalanche of knowledge available at the click of a mouse button on heart health, as well as a heart attack. Yet one finds that no matter what our theoretical knowledge may be, when it comes to acting on very obvious warning signs, we tend to ignore and therefore fall prey to one of the easily avoidable health and death traps: a heart attack!
What Is a Heart Attack?
If we were to define a heart attack simply, it is just a blood clot in the artery that blocks blood flow to the heart. Without blood, heart tissue loses oxygen and dies. Make no mistake; it is a medical emergency.
While movie and TV actors usually clutch their chests in pain, there are other very obvious signs and symptoms that one must learn to recognize, as it may mean the difference between life and death, whether our own, or a loved one’s.
What Really Happens During an Attack?
It is said that one person’s symptoms may be quite different from another’s. You may be able to continue what you were doing; having a conversation or completing your meal. However, you will be able to tell that all is not well even if you do not suffer sudden chest pain or feel like you will pass out. Some heart attacks come on suddenly and are intense. But for most, it starts slowly, causing you mild pain or discomfort.
What Are the Common Signs and Symptoms?
The attack gives out some common warning signs, chest discomfort like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain, lasting more than a few minutes (it may go away and return), discomfort/pain in other areas like one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach, shortness of breath, and other possible signs that include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness. Do not ignore these signs!
With both men and women, a common heart attack symptom is chest pain (angina) or discomfort. But women have higher chances of developing some of the other common symptoms, particularly pain in the jaw or back, vomiting/nausea, and shortness of breath. To know more about sudden cardiac death (SCD) in women, click here.
Is it gas pain or chest pain? Learn to tell the difference. Though both may cause some kind of chest pain, beware of pain that resembles a strong pressure applied to the chest, pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including neck, back, shoulders, arms, a pain in the jaw that is particularly common in women, shortness of breath or inability to catch the breath, profuse sweating, feeling lightheaded or woozy, and nausea.
What Are the Treatment Options?
Treatment after a heart attack will depend upon its severity and will range from lifestyle changes and cardiac rehab to medication, stents or even bypass surgery.
The Mantra to Remember: Even if you are unsure whether that pain in your or your loved one’s chest is a heart attack or not, do not put it down to tugging of the heart-strings. Focus on getting to the hospital without any delay. The sooner blood flow is restored, the lesser the damage to your heart tissue. It could make all the difference!
To know about the treatment options available at Medica, click here.