Can You Prevent A Heart Attack
You can lower your risk of a heart attack by changing behaviors that can raise your risks or treating any known coronary artery disease. Healthy lifestyle changes, including heart-healthy eating, staying active, quitting smoking, managing stress, and maintaining a healthy weight, can help prevent heart disease. Even if you already have coronary artery disease, these changes can lower your risk of a heart attack.
It is also important for you to get treatment for other health conditions that raise your risk of a heart attack. Talk to your doctor about whether taking aspirin can help you prevent blood clots that can lead to a heart attack.
Research for your health
Learn about current and future NHLBI research to advance treatment and improve our scientific understanding of the causes of heart attacks. Research on this topic is part of the NHLBIs broader commitment to advancing scientific discovery for heart and vascular diseases.
Heart Attack Symptoms In Women Vs Men
Women are more likely than men to have silent heart attacks and heart attacks without chest pain. Heart attacks are also more likely to start when a woman is at rest or experiencing mental stress.
That means its especially important for women to watch out for symptoms like shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, nausea or vomiting, or pain in the jaw, arms or back.
Also, we now know that young women are particularly prone to a type of heart event called a spontaneous coronary artery dissection , which we talk about in more depth below.
How Is Heart Attack Diagnosed
You may need several tests to determine the cause of your symptoms.
- Electrocardiogram . This test records the electrical activity of your heart. It can help diagnose heart rhythm problems. It can also find damage from a decrease in blood flow.
- Blood tests. When blood flow decreases, special proteins leak into the blood system. A blood test can detect these proteins. Your doctor may want to test your blood several times during the first 24 to 48 hours after yours symptoms start.
Other tests your doctor may want you to have include:
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Current Research On Preventing Complications After A Heart Attack
- Adherence to cardiac rehabilitation: Cardiac rehabilitation can help improve heart function and prevent complications after a heart attack. However, many people do not stick to their cardiac rehabilitation plan. The NHLBI funds research to find out whether providing a case manager and financial rewards can help encourage people to stick to their cardiac rehabilitation plan.
- Insulin resistance after heart attack: Some people develop insulin resistance after having a heart attack. We fund research to discover how a heart attack can cause changes in the body that raise the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
Bigger Waist Bigger Risk
Rather than relying on body mass index , the researchers took waist measurements. A waist circumference of more than 80 centimeters in women and more than 85 centimeters in men increased risk. Yusuf says measuring the waist is a better predictor of heart attack risk because “it is a measure of abdominal fat, which is the type of fat that is most closely associated with heart attacks.”
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
If you have any of the symptoms below, you could be having a heart attack. If symptoms are severe, get worse quickly, or last longer than 10 minutes, call triple zero immediately and ask for an ambulance. If calling triple zero does not work on your mobile try calling 112.
The most common symptoms of a heart attack include:
- chest pain pressure or tightness in the chest and arms that may spread to the jaw, neck or back
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Women may experience different symptoms, such as:
- breathlessness and generally feeling unwell
- tightness or discomfort in the arms
- back pain or pressure
Heart attack symptoms differ from person to person. Some people experience no warning signs before a heart attack while others feel symptoms days or weeks in advance. Nearly 1 in 3 men and nearly 4 in 10 women who have heart attacks dont feel any chest pain at all. Chest pains may also come and go.
Tips For Heart Attack Prevention
The goal after your heart attack is to keep your heart healthy and lower your risk of having another heart attack. Take your medications as directed, make healthy lifestyle changes, see your doctor for regular heart checkups, and consider a cardiac rehabilitation program.
Why do I need to take drugs after a heart attack?
You might take certain drugs after a heart attack to:
- Prevent blood clots
- Prevent plaques by lowering cholesterol
Know the names of your medications, what theyâre used for, and when you need to take them. Go over your medications with your doctor or nurse. Keep a list of all your medications, and take it to each of your doctor visits. If you have questions about them, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
It sounds like a no-brainer, but don’t skip your medications. Many people don’t take their medications the way their doctor told them to. Figure out what keeps you from taking your medicine — it could be side effects, cost, or forgetfulness — and ask your doctor for help.
What lifestyle changes are needed after a heart attack?
To keep heart disease from getting worse and to head off another heart attack, follow your doctor’s advice. You might need to change your lifestyle. Here are some changes you can make that can cut your risk and put you on the path to a healthier life:
Why should I take part in cardiac rehabilitation?
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Treatment Of A Heart Attack May Include The Use Of Medications Like:
- Aspirin The 911 operator may instruct you take aspirin immediately to reduce blood clotting.
- Thrombolytics Often referred to as clotbusters, these medications help to dissolve the blood clot that is blocking blood flow.
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors ACE inhibitors expand your blood vessels and allow blood to flow more easily.
- Beta blockers These decrease the hearts workload, help relieve chest pain, and treat irregular heartbeats.
- Statins Statins help to lower blood cholesterol levels, reducing the chances of a future heart attack or stroke.
What Is A Heart Attack
Heart attack signs and symptoms in men and women: Chest pain or discomfort Shortness of breath Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, arm, or shoulder Feeling nauseous, light-headed, or unusually tired.
A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, happens when a part of the heart muscle doesnt get enough blood.
The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart muscle.
Coronary artery disease is the main cause of heart attack. A less common cause is a severe spasm, or sudden contraction, of a coronary artery that can stop blood flow to the heart muscle.
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What Happens During A Heart Attack
During a heart attack, blood flow to the heart muscle is blocked. This is most commonly due to coronary artery disease.
Discover how the heart works, how risk factors contribute to a heart attack and the importance of reducing your risk factors.
After having a heart attack treated in hospital, it’s easy to think that the problem has been dealt with – the heart attack is over and done with. However, a heart attack is usually a symptom of an underlying heart health problem like coronary artery disease .
Surgical Treatment For Major Heart Attacks
Grafting: A blocked artery may also be treated with coronary artery bypass grafting, sometimes referred to as bypass surgery. In this procedure, a blood vessel is taken from elsewhere in the body and attached, or grafted, onto the blocked artery. With this, blood flow can be rerouted around the blockage.
Stent: A stent is a tiny, flexible, mesh tube that is placed at the site of the blockage. This opens up your blocked artery for normal blood flow. The plaque is pressed against the wall of the artery and the stent allows blood to pass through it.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Cardiovascular Disease
The most important behavioural risk factors of heart disease and stroke are unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol. The effects of behavioural risk factors may show up in individuals as raised blood pressure, raisedblood glucose, raised blood lipids, and overweight and obesity. These intermediate risks factors can be measured in primary care facilities and indicate an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure and other complications.
Cessation of tobacco use, reduction of salt in the diet, eating more fruit and vegetables, regular physical activity and avoiding harmful use of alcohol have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Health policies that create conduciveenvironments for making healthy choices affordable and available are essential for motivating people to adopt and sustain healthy behaviours.
There are also a number of underlying determinants of CVDs. These are a reflection of the major forces driving social, economic and cultural change globalization, urbanization and population ageing. Other determinants of CVDs include poverty,stress and hereditary factors.
In addition, drug treatment of hypertension, diabetes and high blood lipids are necessary to reduce cardiovascular risk and prevent heart attacks and strokes among people with these conditions.
How To Lower Your Risk Of A Heart Attack
Positive lifestyle changes can go a long way in reducing your risk for heart attack. Quitting smoking and moderating your alcohol intake are essential to lowering your risk, as is getting regular physical activity. Good nutrition is another important step choose nutrient-rich foods and make sure your diet has plenty of fruits and vegetables.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Is there a test I can take to see if my arteries or blocked so I know if Im at risk of a having a heart attack?
- What is the likely cause of my heart attack?
- How serious was my heart attack?
- What course of treatment do you recommend? Do I need medicine? Surgery?
- Do I need to participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program?
- When can I return to normal physical and sexual activity?
- What is my risk of having another heart attack?
- Are my family members at an increased risk of heart attack?
- Do I need to take medicine to prevent another heart attack?
- Will the medicine interact with any of the medicine I already take?
- What lifestyle changes should I make at home to prevent another heart attack?
- Can sexual activity cause a heart attack?
Pregnancy And Heart Attacks
Heart attacks are not common among pregnant women, but they are possible both during and soon after delivery. Normal changes to your body during pregnancy can raise your risk of a heart attack. Your age, lifestyle habits, and other health conditions, such as bleeding disorders, obesity, preeclampsia , and diabetes, can also raise your risk.
If you already have coronary artery disease, being pregnant can raise your risk of a heart attack. Coronary artery disease is a major cause of heart attacks during pregnancy. Ask your doctor whether it is safe for you to get pregnant and what steps you need to take to keep your heart healthy during your pregnancy.
Heart attacks caused by spontaneous coronary artery dissection , a coronary artery embolus, or a coronary artery spasm are more common in pregnant women than in people who are not pregnant.
If you have symptoms of a heart attack during your pregnancy, or at any time, . Your healthcare team will take steps to protect your baby during these tests. Your healthcare team will also make sure that any treatment you take for a heart attack is safe to use during pregnancy.
Watch one womans story about surviving a heart attack soon after delivery.
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Can I Prevent Having A Heart Attack
In general, there are many things that you can do that may prevent a heart attack. However, some factors beyond your control especially your family history can still lead to a heart attack despite your best efforts. Still, reducing your risk can postpone when you have a heart attack and reduce the severity if you have one.
Heart Attacks May Have Severe Or Mild Symptoms At Times A Sufferer Of Heart Attack May Show No Symptoms
Heart attack can affect anyone irrespective of age and gender. Though research has proved that males are at a higher risk of suffering from heart attacks. Generally, heart attacks occur in older people but recently many young deaths due to heart attacks have been reported.
A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to the heart is reduced or blocked due to a buildup of fat, cholesterol, or other substances in the heart arteries. These fatty, cholesterol-containing deposits are called plaques, and the process of plaque buildup is called atherosclerosis.
At times, a plaque can rupture resulting in the formation of a clot that blocks blood flow. In biological terms, a heart attack is also called a myocardial infarction. Let’s know the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of heart attacks.
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What Can Cause Cardiac Arrest
The main cause of cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia, which are types of arrhythmias, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Important risk factors include prior cardiac arrest, coronary heart disease and heart valve disease. But the institute notes half of cardiac arrests happen to people who did not know they had a heart problem.
The World Health Organization estimates that around 32% of all deaths globally are caused by heart disease.
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Having A Heart Attack
Although there are several risk factors that you cant control, there are many ways you can help yourself and reduce your risk of a heart attack. These include:
Being an active contributor to your health doesnt mean you have to make lifestyle changes all on your own. Ask your primary care provider and other providers on your healthcare team for help. They can provide the information and resources you need.
If youve already had a heart attack, your healthcare provider will recommend a cardiac rehabilitation program. This programs goals are to reduce your chance of a second heart attack. These medically supervised programs provide counseling and focus on the same healthy living goals listed above.
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Heart Disease In The United States
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States.1
- One person dies every 34 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease.1
- About 697,000 people in the United States died from heart disease in 2020thats 1 in every 5 deaths.1,2
- Heart disease cost the United States about $229 billion each year from 2017 to 2018.3 This includes the cost of health care services, medicines, and lost productivity due to death.
Coronary Artery Disease
- Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing 382,820 people in 2020.2
- About 20.1 million adults age 20 and older have CAD .2
- In 2020, about 2 in 10 deaths from CAD happen in adults less than 65 years old.2
Early Action Is Important for Heart Attack
- In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds.2
- Every year, about 805,000 people in the United States have a heart attack.2 Of these,
- 605,000 are a first heart attack2
- 200,000 happen to people who have already had a heart attack2
- About 1 in 5 heart attacks are silentthe damage is done, but the person is not aware of it.2
Types Of Heart Attack
The type of heart attack you experienced determines the treatments that your medical team will recommend. These include:
- ST- segment elevation myocardial infarction : This type of heart attack occurs when a coronary artery is completely blocked.As a result, a large portion of the heart cannot receive blood, and the heart muscle quickly begins to die. STEMI are the deadliest type of heart attacks.
- Non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction : This type of heart attack occurs when a coronary artery is severely restricted but not entirely blocked. NSTEMIs usually cause less damage to the heart than their counterpart, STEMI.
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Why Didnt I Have Any Warning
The process of atherosclerosis may have no symptoms in its early stages. But when an artery is narrowed by over 70%, muscle pain or cramps may occur when tissue needs more oxygen than its able to receive.
When a coronary artery narrows and constricts blood flow, other nearby blood vessels that serve the heart sometimes expand to compensate, which may explain why there may be no warning signs.
Such a network of expanded nearby blood vessels is called collateral circulation, and it helps protect some people from heart attacks by delivering needed blood to the heart. Collateral circulation can also develop after a heart attack to help the heart muscle recover.
When Do I Do If Someone Else Has A Heart Attack
An easy-to-use device called an AED is available in many public places and can be used by almost anyone to treat cardiac arrest. This device works by shocking the heart back into a normal rhythm.
Hereâs how to use an AED:
1. Check responsiveness
- For an adult or older child, shout and shake the person to confirm whether theyâre unconscious. Do not use AED on a conscious person.
- For an infant or young child, pinch their skin. Never shake a young child.
- Check breathing and pulse. If absent or uneven, prepare to use the AED as soon as possible.
2. Prepare to use AED
- Make sure the person is in a dry area and away from puddles or water.
- Check for body piercings or outline of an implanted medical device, such as a pacemaker or implantable defibrillator.
- AED pads must be placed at least 1 inch away from piercings or implanted devices.
3. Use AED
For newborns, infants, and children up to age 8, use a pediatric AED, if possible. If not, use an adult AED.
- Turn on the AED.
- Plug in connector, if necessary.
- Make sure no one is touching the person.
- Push the âAnalyzeâ button.
- If a shock is advised, check again to make sure no one is touching the person.
- Push the âShockâ button.
- Start or resume continue compressions.
- Follow AED prompts.
4. Continue CPR
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