Your breathing increases. You feel nauseated. Your arm begins to hurt. Your chest tightens. You write it off as something you ate. But these symptoms could, in fact, be signs of a heart attack.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death of both men and women in the United States. Each year, over one million people in the U.S. have heart attacks, and almost half of them die.
What Causes a Heart Attack?
A heart attack is caused when the blood flow to the heart is blocked. Most heart attacks are caused by coronary artery disease (CAD), in which fatty deposits called plaque gradually build up inside the arteries. Over time, this plaque or a resulting blood clot may restrict or even totally block the flow of blood to the heart. If the blood flow isn’t restored quickly, the heart will be damaged from a lack of oxygen and will begin to die.
Signs of a Heart Attack
Often, signs of a heart attack are mistaken for other non-life threatening conditions. Therein lies the danger. The clock is ticking, and the sooner you receive treatment, the greater your chances of survival. You may be having a heart attack if you have any one or a combination of these symptoms:
- Pain, discomfort, pressure, or tightness in the chest (can be mild or intense)
- Pain or discomfort in the upper body region, including one or both arms, the neck, back, jaw, or stomach
- Shortness of breath before or with the chest pain
- Nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, fainting, or breaking out in a cold sweat
What to do if you think you may be having a heart attack
- Call 911 immediately! Do not hesitate longer than five minutes.
- Allow an ambulance to take you to the hospital rather than going in a private vehicle. Emergency medical technicians can begin treatment right away, and ambulance patients are usually given priority in the hospital’s emergency room.
- Take a nitroglycerin pill if this has been prescribed by your doctor.
How to Prevent a Heart Attack
While heredity comes into play, a healthy heart is largely influenced by your lifestyle. Follow these tips to help prevent a heart disease:
- Eat a heart-healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Control your blood pressure
- Keep a check on your cholesterol
- Do not smoke
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Reduce stress
- Visit your doctor for regular checkups
Can eating onions lower your blood pressure and cholesterol? Find out here.