Managing Heart Attack Risk Factors
Here are ways to manage your risks for a heart attack:
- Look at which risk factors apply to you, then take steps to eliminate or reduce them.
- Learn about high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. These may be “silent killers.”
- Change risk factors that aren’t inherited by making lifestyle changes. Talk with your healthcare provider to find out how to do so.
- Talk with your healthcare provider to find out if you have risk factors that can’t be changed. These can be managed with medicine and lifestyle changes.
Get The Heart Care You Need When You Need It
Each year about 805,000 Americans have a heart attack, and about 655,000 die of heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means heart disease is responsible for one in every four deaths, making it the leading cause of death for both men and women.
There are many things you can do for heart attack prevention and to improve your heart age and the good news is that little changes can make a big difference. Start by adding heart-healthy foods in your diet, exercising for heart health and watching your cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Remember, if you think youre having a heart attack:
- Chew one adult-strength aspirin to help keep your blood from clotting.
- Stay on the phone with the emergency operator as you wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself to the hospital.
A heart attack can be a scary experience. But remember that were here for you, and comprehensive heart care and recovery options are never far away.
Depression And Cardiovascular Disease Risk
Studies have shown that people with depression, those who are socially isolated or do not have quality social support are at greater risk of developing CVD.
Depression can be treated with medical and non-medical therapies. If you think you have depression, talking to your health professional is the best first step.
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Many Other Heart Conditions Can Ultimately Lead To Heart Failure
All of us lose some blood-pumping ability in our hearts as we age, but heart failure results from the added stress of health conditions that either damage the heart or make it work too hard. All of the lifestyle factors that increase your risk of heart attack and stroke smoking, being overweight, eating foods high in fat and cholesterol and physical inactivity can also contribute to heart failure.
Learn more about what you can do to reduce your risk for heart failure by making lifestyle changes that last.
Emerging Issues In Heart Disease And Stroke
No national system exists to collect data on how often cardiovascular events occur or recur, or how often they result in disability and death. Similarly, there is inadequate tracking of quality indicators across the continuum of care, from risk factor prevention through treatment of acute events to posthospitalization and rehabilitation. New measures and tools are needed to monitor improvement in cardiovascular health and cardiovascular care over the next decade.
Other emerging issues in cardiovascular health include:
- Defining and measuring overall cardiovascular health
- Assessing and communicating lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease
- Addressing depression as a risk factor for and associated condition of heart disease and stroke
- Examining cognitive impairment due to cardiovascular disease
- Dealing with substantial gaps in the cardiovascular surveillance system
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Who Is Most At Risk For A Heart Attack
Several key factors affect your risk of having a heart attack. Unfortunately, some of these risk factors aren’t things you can control.
- Age and sex.
- If you have certain health conditions or diseases.
Age and sex
Your risk of heart attack increases as you get older, and your sex also influences when your risk of a heart attack starts to increase:
- Men: The risk of heart attack increases greatly at age 45.
- Women: The risk of heart attack increases greatly at age 50 or after menopause.
If you have a parent or sibling with a history of heart disease or heart attack especially at a younger age your risk is even greater. That risk increases with the following:
- Your father or a brother who was diagnosed with heart disease at age 55 or younger.
- Your mother or a sister who was diagnosed with heart disease at age 65 or younger.
The lifestyle choices you make can also affect your risk of having a heart attack. The following lifestyle factors increase your risk of heart attack:
- Lack of physical activity.
- Eating disorders .
Heart Disease Testing: Cardiac Catheterization
Plaque in cardiac arteries can be a severe problem, even life-threatening, in some patients. Diagnosing plaque blockage of coronary arteries and treatments for blockages has improved the lives of many patients with coronary artery disease. Cardiac catheterization is a technique that may provide both diagnostic information and therapeutic methodology in one procedure. The technique is invasive and can be used to detect blockages in your heart that trigger heart attacks.
How Cardiac Catheterization Works
- A thin tube is placed in a blood vessel in the leg or arm and threaded into the heart and into the opening of a coronary artery.
- Dye is put into the tube and goes into the artery.
- A special X-ray machine images the dye, showing narrowing or blockage of the artery.
- The same tube may be used with special tips to open the coronary artery by angioplasty or used to place a wire mesh that expands to hold the artery open.
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What Do I Do If I Have A Heart Attack
After a heart attack, you need quick treatment to open the blocked artery and lessen the damage. At the first signs of a heart attack, call 911. The best time to treat a heart attack is within 1 or 2 hours after symptoms begin. Waiting longer means more damage to your heart and a lower chance of survival.
What Can I Do To Recover After A Heart Attack
Take our quiz to see how much you know about cardiac rehabilitation.
If youve had a heart attack, your heart may be damaged. This could affect your hearts rhythm and its ability to pump blood to the rest of the body. You may also be at risk for another heart attack or conditions such as stroke, kidney disorders, and peripheral arterial disease .
You can lower your chances of having future health problems following a heart attack with these steps:
- Physical activityTalk with your health care team about the things you do each day in your life and work. Your doctor may want you to limit work, travel, or sexual activity for some time after a heart attack.
- Lifestyle changesEating a healthier diet, increasing physical activity, quitting smoking, and managing stressin addition to taking prescribed medicinescan help improve your heart health and quality of life. Ask your health care team about attending a program called cardiac rehabilitation to help you make these lifestyle changes.
- Cardiac rehabilitationCardiac rehabilitation is an important program for anyone recovering from a heart attack, heart failure, or other heart problem that required surgery or medical care. Cardiac rehab is a supervised program that includes
- Physical activity
- Education about healthy living, including healthy eating, taking medicine as prescribed, and ways to help you quit smoking
- Counseling to find ways to relieve stress and improve mental health
What Causes A Heart Attack
The most common cause of a heart attack is coronary artery disease, which is the most common type of heart disease. This is when your coronary arteriescannot carry enough oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle. Most of the time, coronary artery disease happens when a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside your arteries, causing the arteries to narrow. The buildup of this plaque is called atherosclerosis. This can happen over many years, and it can block blood flow to parts of your heart muscle. Plaques that narrow arteries slowly over time cause angina.
Eventually, an area of plaque can break open inside your artery. This causes a blood clots to form on the plaques surface. If the clot becomes large enough, it can block blood flow to your heart. If the blockage isnt treated quickly, a part of your heart muscle begins to die.
Figure A shows damage caused by a heart attack. Figure B shows the coronary artery with plaque buildup and a blood clot.
What Is Rheumatic Heart Disease
Rheumatic heart disease is caused by damage to the heart valves and heart muscle from the inflammation and scarring caused by rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever is caused by an abnormal response of the body to infection with streptococcal bacteria, whichusually begins as a sore throat or tonsillitis in children.
Rheumatic fever mostly affects children in developing countries, especially where poverty is widespread. Globally, about 2% of deaths from cardiovascular diseases are related to rheumatic heart disease.
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What Are Cardiovascular Diseases
Cardiovascular diseases are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels. They include:
- coronary heart disease a disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle
- cerebrovascular disease a disease of the blood vessels supplying the brain
- peripheral arterial disease a disease of blood vessels supplying the arms and legs
- rheumatic heart disease damage to the heart muscle and heart valves from rheumatic fever, caused by streptococcal bacteria
- congenital heart disease birth defects that affect the normal development and functioning of the heart caused by malformations of the heart structure from birth and
- deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism blood clots in the leg veins, which can dislodge and move to the heart and lungs.
Heart attacks and strokes are usually acute events and are mainly caused by a blockage that prevents blood from flowing to the heart or brain. The most common reason for this is a build-up of fatty deposits on the inner walls of the blood vessels thatsupply the heart or brain. Strokes can be caused by bleeding from a blood vessel in the brain or from blood clots.
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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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 Causes Heart Disease
Heart disease develops when tissues of the cardiovascular system become damaged and dysfunctional. Damage to nearly any part of the heart or blood vessels can lead to damage in other parts. For instance, hypertension can cause atherosclerosis , and atherosclerosis causes coronary artery disease, which causes potentially fatal heart attacks. In other words, one type of heart disease is a major risk factor for another type of heart disease.
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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.
What Are The Heart Attack Symptoms In Women
As with men, the most common heart attack symptom in women is chest pain or discomfort. However, women are more likely to have silent heart attacks or experience less common and less intense symptoms that can go ignored.
Some of the other common heart attack symptoms in women include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain or pressure in the lower chest or upper abdomen
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
- Jaw, neck, or upper back pain
The risk of heart attack increases in women after menopause, due to decreasing estrogen levels.
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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.
Cardiac Arrest Or Heart Attack
A heart attack is not the same as a cardiac arrest. They are two different types of cardiac event.
A heart attack occurs when a coronary artery becomes blocked, preventing blood flow to part of the heart muscle. During a heart attack a person remains conscious and keeps breathing.
A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops pumping blood around the body. Normal breathing stops and consciousness is lost.
Sometimes a heart attack can cause a cardiac arrest. This is because a person who is having a heart attack may develop a dangerous heart rhythm, which causes a cardiac arrest. A heart attack and a cardiac arrest are both emergency situations. Call 111 straight away.
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How Heart Attack Symptoms Vary Between Men And Women
We use women and men in this article to reflect the terms that have been historically used to gender people. But your gender identity may not align with how your body experiences symptoms of a heart attack. Your doctor can better help you understand how your specific circumstances will translate into symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
Many people experience a mix of heart attack symptoms regardless of sex or gender. However, there are sex-specific differences in the presentation, biology, and outcomes of heart attacks.
A women , the pain is often described as tightness, squeezing, or pressure in the chest, while men tend to describe it as a heavy weight on the chest.
According to the American Heart Association , women are somewhat more likely than men to experience the following heart attack symptoms:
- shortness of breath
- pain in the upper back or jaw
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- extreme fatigue
Higher levels of estrogen can reduce the risk of a heart attack. As a result, women have a greater risk of a heart attack after menopause than before menopause.
However, women who have a heart attack are more at risk of underdiagnosis and undertreatment.
For example, a 2018 Swiss study found that women tend to wait longer to contact emergency services after experiencing typical heart attack symptoms. Researchers also found that women tend to experience greater delays in receiving treatment in emergency settings.
When Should I See My Doctor
If calling triple zero does not work on your mobile, try calling 112. Early treatment could save a life.
See your doctor regularly to manage your general health, test for heart disease risk factors and help you take steps to prevent a heart attack.
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How Are Heart Attacks Diagnosed
Heart attacks are usually diagnosed in an emergency room setting. A healthcare provider will diagnose a heart attack using the following:
- History and symptoms: The provider will ask you about the symptoms you experienced. If someone was with you, the provider might also ask them to describe what happened.
- Lab testing: Heart attacks cause a specific chemical marker to show up in your blood.
- Heart-specific diagnostic tests: This includes tests that detect and record the electrical activity in your heart.
- Imaging tests: These tests give providers a way to see inside your heart. Many of these tests can also show the location of a blood flow blockage, which can guide treatment.