A heart attack, clinically termed as, 'acute myocardial infarction' (AMI), is a common disorder of the heart. It occurs due to the inactivity or damage of the heart muscle (completely or partially). The damage occurs when oxygen-rich blood is blocked from reaching the vital organ.
In most cases, uncontrolled cholesterol levels in the body result in a heart attack. The heart is supplied with oxygen-rich blood for its nourishment, by the coronary arteries. Overtime, cholesterol starts accumulating in these blood vessels thus, clogging them.
Collectively, this accumulated cholesterol is known as plaque (the condition is known as atherosclerosis). At some time, this plaque may rupture (its outer shell cracks), and a blood clot may form around it or on its surface.
Now, this blood clot could be large enough to keep the blood from flowing through the artery to the heart, partially or completely. As the heart is deprived of oxygen, its muscles begin to die, enduring permanent damage. And this is what is known as a heart attack.
Other factors which are less commonly known to stop blood supply to the heart include spasm of a coronary artery, and blood clots that got formed elsewhere in the body, and made their way into the coronary artery. The rest of the information would brief you on the important warning signs of a heart attack.
Signs and Symptoms of an Impending Heart Attack
✚ According to what most doctors have noticed, if a diabetic has a heart attack, then it is most likely that there would be no warning signs whatsoever. This type of condition is known as a silent heart attack. Although, this condition is more common with diabetes, anyone may experience it.
✚ And when warning signs do surface, the earliest one to show up is chest pain. This pain is recurring in nature, and worsens with exertion, but reduces with rest. The person may feel as if his chest in being weighed down, or is being squeezed by tremendous pressure.
✚ Within some time, the chest pain can be felt radiating up to the jaw area, and most commonly the left arm or shoulder. There will be pain in the back, and feeling of discomfort in the neck area and stomach.
✚ Other than the above mentioned heart attack symptoms, the affected person may find it difficult to breathe normally, experience lightheadedness, and nausea or vomiting. It is also common to suffer from general discomfort in the upper middle abdomen, and a vague feeling of illness called malaise.
Sweating, fainting, tiredness, lack of energy, and palpitations may also indicate that a heart attack is close. The person may cough, wheeze, and feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety about his life.
As mentioned already, most are unaware of important signs that signal an impending heart attack; such as the ones described above. Also, some people do not get convinced that they are actually having a heart attack, until they experience the crushing pain in their chest.
Chest pain, is although, a hallmark of a heart attack, it is not necessary that it will be present every time. This is truer in case of women. According to experts, in less than one-third of women, chest pain occurs before a heart attack. Also note that, in women, symptoms may occur a month or more before a heart attack.
People At Risk
- Diabetic patients, and people over 65 are considered to be more vulnerable to have a heart attack.
- Long-term smoking plays an important role in damaging and narrowing the coronary arteries, whose one of the many repercussions could be a heart attack.
- People having high blood cholesterol problems, and blood pressure are also vulnerable to heart attacks.
- Obesity is also a major contributing factor in the development of heart diseases, as it is strongly associated with high cholesterol levels, hypertension, and diabetes. In other words, obese people are also highly susceptible to have a heart attack.
- The risks are also high for those whose family members have had the same problem.
The best method of preventing or avoiding heart attacks is to eliminate its underlying causes, and managing its triggers. Needless to say, eat heart-healthy foods, avoid sedentary lifestyle, be active, and manage stress.
It is more important for those who have had heart attacks in the past, to remain alert regarding the smallest or mildest of its warning signs. This will help them being less anxious, and more prepared for future. Take care!