What Are The Risk Factors For Heart Attack
Several health conditions, your lifestyle, and your age and family history can increase your risk for heart disease and heart attack. These are called risk factors. About half of all Americans have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking.2
Some risk factors cannot be controlled, such as your age or family history. But you can take steps to lower your risk by changing the factors you can control.
Learn more about risk factors for heart disease and heart attack.
Warning Signs Of A Heart Attack Or Stroke
Sometimes the signs of a heart attack or stroke are obvious. Sometimes they aren’t. Here are lists of the “classic” and not-so-classic signs of each. If you If you notice one or more of the signs below in yourself or someone else, or you’re really worried that you or someone you are with is having a heart attack, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. Better safe than sorry.
Smi: Unaware Of Possible Danger
The number of people who suffer an SMI and don’t realize it is alarming. A study in the Nov. 10, 2015, Journal of the American Medical Association looked at almost 2,000 people ages 45 to 84 who were free of cardiovascular disease.
After 10 years, 8% had myocardial scars, which are evidence of a heart attack. Most surprising was that 80% of these people were unaware of their condition. Overall, the prevalence of myocardial scars was five times higher in men than in women.
SMI and regular heart attacks share the same risk factors: smoking, being overweight, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes. They can be just as dangerous, too. “SMI often leaves scarring and damage to the heart, which, combined with the fact that many people who have an SMI don’t seek immediate care, can further raise a person’s risk of a second and potentially more harmful heart attack,” says Dr. Plutzky. In fact, people who have an SMI and don’t get treatment have a three times greater risk of dying from coronary artery disease. “A silent heart attack is a loud signal your body sends that you have some kind of underlying health issue that needs attention,” says Dr. Plutzky.
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Surprising Heart Attack Symptoms Women Should Never Ignore
Heart disease remains the number-one cause of death for women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . In fact, according to a 2017 study conducted by the University of Leeds and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and published in the Journal of the American Heart Association , women are much more likely to die following a heart attack than men are. The reason? Women are more likely to dismiss their symptoms or wait too long to report them.
Why do female heart attack symptoms so often get disregarded? Well, for one, they arent as easy to recognize. Heart attack symptoms in a woman can look and feel very different from the better-known symptoms that tend to affect men. In contrast to the big, loud physical indicators in males, female heart attack symptoms tend to be more nuanced and manifest in concert. That is why women should never ignore these unusual symptoms, especially if they experience more than one at the same time:
Symptoms Vary Between Men And Women
As with men, womens most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
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Early Symptoms Don’t Really Sound Like The Hollywood Heart Attack Experience Is That Typical
There are two main ways that people present with heart attacks, Dr. Xu says:
- Sudden A person may or may not have any symptoms previously, but all at once a plaque deposit ruptures, triggering a chain of events and a sudden heart attack.
- Gradual The other presentation happens slowly as coronary disease progresses. In this situation, an artery is getting narrower over time. When the artery is narrowed down to more than 70 percent, a person will start to have warning symptoms ahead of time, especially with physical exertion.
Sign Of Potential Heart Attack: You Have A Serious Snoring Problem
Snoring like a buzz saw, waking up gasping for air, or feeling tired despite going to bed at a reasonable time could all be signs that you have sleep apnea, a sleep disorder marked by pauses in breathing. And if left untreated, it could increase your chance for a heart attack.
Those pauses in breathing can seriously stress your body, raising your blood pressure, causing your heart to beat irregularly, and upping the risk for heart disease, says Segal. And all of those things can make a heart attack more likely.
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Heart Attack Warning: The Sign In Your Stomach That May Signal Your Risk Of The Condition
A heart attack can present symptoms days before a big attack. Whats the sign in the stomach that could indicate you are at risk of the condition taking place?
The British Heart Foundation states: Discomfort or pain in the stomach area can be experienced before and during a heart attack.
The charity compares the sensation to indigestion medically known as dyspepsia.
According to the NHS, indigestion can cause somebody to feel sick.
Little To No Chest Pain
Chest pain is the most common heart attack or pre-heart attack symptom in both women and men. However, for men, the pain is often localized to their left side and the most prominent and severe symptom of a heart attack. Chest pain in a woman can be a subtler signal thats less easy to interpret.
Women might experience chest pain from a heart attack as a fullness or a vice-like squeezing throughout the chest. It also is often not the most prominent symptom, so women should be mindful of the suite of other symptoms that manifest at the same time, with the big one being
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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?
Sign Of Potential Heart Attack: Youre Physically Exhausted
If your day-to-day routines or workouts suddenly seem unusually hardor youre too worn out to do your normal tasks altogether, its time to visit the doctor, says Robert Segal, M.D., FAAC, founder of Manhattan Cardiology.
Feeling extra tired can signal weakness of the left ventricle of your heart, the main muscle responsible for pumping blood from the heart to the rest of the body, says Segal. If it stops working, the heart isnt able to pump properly, which can result in a heart attack.
And if the left ventricle isnt pumping as strongly as should be, your heart might not be able to circulate enough blood throughout your body, or to fill up properly with fresh blood in between heartbeats. To compensate, the body diverts blood away from muscles and sends it to more vital organs like the heart and brain, according to the American Heart Association. This will leave you exhaustedeven after a full nights sleep, since your tissues arent getting enough fresh, oxygenated blood.
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What Causes Heart Attacks
The most common cause of a heart attack is coronary heart disease. This is where fatty deposits, cholesterol and other substances build up in the walls of the coronary arteries that supply oxygen to the heart. Over time, this build-up hardens into plaque that can break off at any time and cause a blood clot which blocks the artery.
In some cases, heart attacks have another cause:
- Coronary artery spasm is an unusual narrowing of blood vessels that can stop blood flow to the heart.
- Spontaneous coronary artery dissection is a sudden tear in the wall of a coronary artery, which can also affect people who have few risk factors for heart disease.
Certain lifestyle factors are shown to increase your chances of heart disease and having a heart attack.
What Does A Heart Attack Feel Like
Some of the sensations you may feel during a heart attack include:
- Chest pain that can range from mild to severe, or an uncomfortable pressure, tightness, squeezing or heaviness in your chest. The discomfort can last more than a few minutes at a time and sometimes goes away for a short time but returns later.
- Pain or a sensation of being squeezed that starts in the upper back.
- Pain that starts from your left shoulder and arm, and goes into other areas such as your back, jaw, neck or right arm.
- Pain that feels like heartburn or indigestion.
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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.
Which Is More Serious A Stroke Or A Heart Attack
Both a stroke and heart attack can be fatal, but a full recovery is also possible in many cases. The outcomes depend upon the severity of the events and how quickly medical support is provided.
With prompt, effective treatment, successful completion of cardiac rehabilitation, and a healthy lifestyle, a heart attack survivor may live many years with few reminders of the attack.
The prognosis after a stroke can be more difficult to predict. Depending on which part of the brain was damaged by the stroke, there can be lifelong complications even after rapid treatment and rehabilitation. Some long-term complications include:
- walking difficulties
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Ideal Time For Walks During Winter
“Ideal time is not early morning and late evenings. Exercise is important for us. But we have to take the maximum benefit out of those exercise. Elderly and high-risk people should avoid early morning walk. Once there is a little sun outside, they can go for a walk or evening time. Warm-up, covering extremities, check your blood pressure, or blood sugar level are some of the points to be considered before venturing out. Try to be stress-free. That’s most important,” says Dr Dhir.
What Is The Difference Between A Heart Attack And Cardiac Arrest
Often, people confuse a heart attack with cardiac arrest. Although related, the two are different conditions. A heart attack occurs after the coronary artery is blocked and prevents necessary blood and oxygen from reaching parts of the heart. These parts begin to die as a result. Cardiac arrest occurs suddenly and usually without any warning. It is the product of an electrical malfunction which makes the heart stop beating unexpectedly. A heart attack increases the risk of having a cardiac arrest.
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How Can You Prevent Future Heart Attacks
A healthy lifestyle means a healthy life. Living a healthy lifestyle will not only help in preventing a heart attack but also accelerate the recovery process. Studies have revealed that eating healthy foods and exercising lowers the risk of getting a heart attack significantly. Eating anti-inflammatory foods and healthy fats reduces inflammation thus decreasing the risk of CHD. Such foods include:
Regular exercises also help prevent heart attacks by improving blood flow, providing cells with more oxygen, controlling blood sugar levels and managing hormones. Other home remedies may include stress reduction, quitting smoking, drinking in moderation and maintaining a healthy weight.
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Weve all seen the movie scenes where a man gasps, clutches his chest and falls to the ground. In reality, a heart attack victim could easily be a woman, and the scene may not be that dramatic.
Although men and women can experience chest pressure that feels like an elephant sitting across the chest, women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure, said Nieca Goldberg, M.D., medical director for the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYUs Langone Medical Center and an American Heart Association volunteer. Instead they may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue.
Even when the signs are subtle, the consequences can be deadly, especially if the victim doesnt get help right away.
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What You Should Do During A Heart Attack
If you think you are having a heart attack, you or someone nearby should call emergency services immediately. Its unsafe to drive yourself to the hospital during a heart attack, so call an ambulance. While you may feel awake and alert enough to drive, the chest pain could get so severe that you may have trouble breathing or difficulty thinking clearly.
Treatment For A Heart Attack
Understandably, treatment for those diagnosed with heart attack can be complex. But this section on heart attack treatments will help you talk with your doctors and healthcare providers.
As you learn about your treatment plan, dont be afraid to ask questions. Be sure to voice any concerns you may have.
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How Are Heart Attacks Treated
Treating a heart attack means restoring blood flow to the affected heart muscle as soon as possible. This can happen in a variety of ways, ranging from medication to surgery. Its extremely likely that treatment will use several of the following methods.
People having trouble breathing or with low blood oxygen levels often receive supplementary oxygen along with other heart attack treatments. You can breathe the oxygen either through a tube that sits just below your nose or a mask that fits over your nose and mouth. This increases the amount of oxygen circulating in the blood and reduces the strain on your heart.
- Anti-clotting medications: This includes aspirin and other blood-thinning medicines.
- Nitroglycerin: This medicine relieves chest pain and causes blood vessels to widen so blood can pass through more easily.
- Thrombolytic medications: Providers use these only within the first 12 hours after a heart attack.
- Anti-arrhythmia medications: Heart attacks can often cause malfunctions in your hearts normal beating rhythm called arrhythmias, which can be life-threatening. Anti-arrhythmia medications can stop or prevent these malfunctions.
- Pain medications: The most common pain medication given during heart attack care is morphine. This can help alleviate chest pain.
Percutaneous coronary intervention
Coronary artery bypass grafting
Common Heart Attack Treatments
Youll find many common heart attack treatments listed here. For more detailed explanations of these treatments, see our page devoted to cardiac procedures.
- Angioplasty: Special tubing with an attached deflated balloon is threaded up to the coronary arteries.
- Angioplasty, Laser: Similar to angioplasty except that the catheter has a laser tip that opens the blocked artery.
- Artificial heart valve surgery: Replaces an abnormal or diseased heart valve with a healthy one.
- Atherectomy: Similar to angioplasty except that the catheter has a rotating shaver on its tip to cut away plaque from the artery.
- Treats blocked heart arteries by creating new passages for blood to flow to your heart muscle.
- Cardiomyoplasty: An experimental procedure in which skeletal muscles are taken from a patients back or abdomen.
- Heart transplant: Removes a diseased heart and replaces it with a donated healthy human heart.
- Minimally invasive heart surgery: An alternative to standard bypass surgery.
- Radiofrequency ablation: A catheter with an electrode at its tip is guided through the veins to the heart muscle to destroy carefully selected heart muscle cells in a very small area.
- Stent procedure: A stent is a wire mesh tube used to prop open an artery during angioplasty.
- Transmyocardial revascularization : A laser is used to drill a series of holes from the outside of the heart into the hearts pumping chamber.
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