How A Heart Attack Affects Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the inside walls of your arteries as it circulates throughout the body. Just as heart rate changes are unpredictable during a heart attack, so too are blood pressure changes.
Because blood flow in the heart is blocked and a portion of heart tissue is denied oxygen-rich blood, your heart may not be able to pump as strongly as it normally does, thus lowering your blood pressure.
A heart attack may also trigger a response from your parasympathetic nervous system, causing your heart and the rest of your body to relax and not fight while your heart struggles to keep blood circulating. This can also cause a dip in blood pressure.
On the other hand, the pain and stress from the heart attack can raise the blood pressure during a heart attack.
Risk factors for a heart attack include modifiable factors, such as your weight, as well as those beyond your control, such as your age. Some of the most common conditions that raise your risk for a heart attack include:
- advancing age
Can You Have Another Heart Attack
After having a heart attack, you are at risk of having another one. Many people do not recognise their next heart attack, as it may feel different to the first one.
If you think you may be having a heart attack and you have already had one:
- Stop and rest. Tell someone how you feel
- If you take angina medication and the symptoms have not been relieved within 10 minutes, or if the symptoms are severe or getting worse,
- Dial 111 and ask for an ambulance. If instructed and aspirin is available, take one.
Heart Attack And Sudden Cardiac Arrest Differences
People often use these terms interchangeably, but they are not synonyms. A heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked, and sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating unexpectedly. A heart attack is a circulation problem and sudden cardiac arrest is an electrical problem.
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What Do You Do If You Have A Heart Attack
If you have any of the listed symptoms:
- tell someone and ask them to get help right away
The faster you get help, the better your chances of surviving a heart attack. Half of heart attack deaths happen within 2 hours of the first signs.
On average, Canadians wait almost 5 hours before getting medical help. Many people find it hard to believe that they are having a heart attack. They convince themselves that the symptoms are something else and that they will go away.
Not getting help for your symptoms could lead to death. New therapies and drugs can reduce damage and save your life if treatment begins soon enough. Your health care provider will work with you to determine treatment and recovery needs.
If you have suffered a heart attack, having important health information close by can help medical staff treat you. Carry personal health information with you at all times and have it posted by your phone. You may not be able to tell medical staff this information yourself, depending on your condition.
Your list should include:
- telephone and health care number
- medical history
- current medications
- health care provider
- health insurance number for expenses that are not covered under provincial health insurance plans, such as:
- ambulance services
Be Prepared For A Heart Attack
What does a heart attack feel like? For women , its not the crushing, chest-grabbing pain you often see in the movies. While women may experience debilitating pain, its more likely youll feel an uncomfortable chest pressure or squeezing, shortness of breath, something like heartburn, or even mild symptoms like fatigue or lightheadedness.
But even before symptoms strike, you can prepare by knowing which hospitals in your area have 24-hour emergency cardiac care. Also, keep a list of emergency phone numbers next to your phone and with you at all times, as well as a list of your medications.
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Recovering From A Heart Attack
The time it takes to recover from a heart attack will depend on the amount of damage to your heart muscle.
Most people can return to work after having a heart attack. Some people are well enough to return to work after 2 weeks. Other people may take several months to recover. How quickly you can go back to work depends on your health, the state of your heart and the type of work you do.
The recovery process aims to:
- reduce your risk of another heart attack through a combination of lifestyle changes , and medicines , which help to lower blood cholesterol levels
- gradually restore your physical fitness so you can resume normal activities
How To Stop A Heart Attack
Many people worry about experiencing a heart attack in their lifetime, and with good reason: its estimated that an American has a heart attack every 40 seconds .
Even though a heart attack can be deadly, tens of thousands of Americans survive heart attacks every year.
Acting quickly when you suspect a heart attack is coming on can greatly improve your chances for survival.
Most of the time, heart attacks start slowly with just mild discomfort and pain, giving warning signs before they strike. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call 911 or ask someone to call 911 immediately.
These could be signs of a heart attack:
- Discomfort in the chest, especially the center, that lasts more than a few minutes or comes and goes. The discomfort may feel like heaviness, fullness, squeezing, or pain.
- Discomfort in the upper body parts such as the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach. This may feel like pain or general discomfort.
- Shortness of breath. This may come with or without chest discomfort.
- Unusual sensations such as a cold sweat, nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, or dizziness. Women are more likely than men to experience these kinds of symptoms.
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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.
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.
What To Do If You Recognize A Heart Attack
If you think theres any chance you or someone else may be having a heart attack, you need to get medical help as quickly as possible. Even if it turns out to be something else, it is better to act quickly than risk putting your life on the line.
If you recognize the signs of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. The sooner that treatment begins, the greater likelihood that you can minimize damage to the heart.
The person having the symptoms should not drive. Always have someone else drive you to the hospital if you are not being transported by ambulance.
If the person goes unconscious, you can start cardiopulmonary resuscitation while you wait for emergency medical services . If you are in a public place, ask if there is an AED on site. An AED is a portable device that can check someone’s heart rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electric shock to help someone who is in cardiac arrest.
Find trainings in CPR and AED use through the American Red Cross, so you are prepared if you are ever in an emergency situation.
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How Will I Know If Someone Is Having A Heart Attack
A heart attack occurs when the heart cant get enough oxygen. A lack of oxygen causes the heart muscle to die. The most common symptom is . But this is only half the story. Sometimes people can have other symptoms withor withoutchest pain including:
Any type of or pressure, such as squeezing or achiness
Feeling queasy or throwing up
Looking white as a ghost
or feeling unusually tired
What Should You Do During A Heart Attack
Now that you know the warning signs, you need to know what to do when a heart attack takes place. Whether alone or with a loved one, remember these primary steps:
There is no time to waste and it is not the time to act tough. Call 911 and explain the situation. They will dispatch emergency responders and walk you through what to do next. If you dont have access to emergency medical services, have a neighbor or a friend drive you to the nearest hospital.
Remain still and calm.This is easier said than done but remember that any additional stress or movements can increase the harm placed on your heart. As much as possible, remain still until emergency medical staff arrive.
Take an aspirin. Taking an aspirin can give your heart some needed relief by thinning the blood and/or reducing the blood clot. However, you should not take aspirin if you are allergic to aspirin or have been told by your doctor never to take aspirin. Discuss with your physician and seek their advice.
Begin CPR. If youre with a person who is unconscious, tell the 911 dispatcher or another emergency medical specialist. You may be advised to begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation . If you do not have CPR training, learn more about getting your CPR and First-Aid training here.
Remember, if you or your loved one is experiencing a heart attack, call 911. If you are unsure, call 911 anyway. Discuss these steps with your loved ones, as well as your physician for additional advice.
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Put Time On Your Side
Acting quickly can save lives. If given quickly after symptoms, clot-busting and artery-opening medications can stop a heart attack, and having a catheterization with a stent put in may open a closed blood vessel. The longer you wait for treatment, the more chances of survival go down and damage to the heart goes up.
About half of those who die from heart attacks do so within the first hour after symptoms begin.
Breaking Out In A Cold Sweat
Another common symptom is finding yourself breaking out in a cold sweat. The reason behind this symptom is that when you have clogged arteries, your heart requires more effort to pump blood, and sweating keeps your bodys temperature down during this extra effort.
For women, this means night sweats may not just be the result of menopause. They might also be a sign of heart problems.
If you experience any of these symptoms, make sure to consult your physician. Dont wait until it becomes urgent.
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Know Your Heart Care Options
You cant predict if a heart attack will happen. But knowing where you can get the right heart care is one thing you can do. Our nationally recognized cardiac centers include:
- Regions Hospital Heart Center in St. Paul, MN, is consistently recognized as one of the nations top cardiac centers. Youll get the highest level of care in every situation, starting with emergency treatment all the way through the recovery process.
- Park Nicollet Heart and Vascular Center, located in St. Louis Park, MN, is nationally recognized for offering outstanding, responsive care for heart attacks and other cardiac conditions. This center is accredited as a Mission: Lifeline® Heart Attack Receiving Center by the American Heart Association, so you can expect first-rate treatment, especially in time-sensitive situations.
- Cardiac rehabilitation services are offered across the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin. Recovering from a heart attack takes time, but you dont have to go through it alone. We offer personalized cardiac rehabilitation at seven convenient locations, so its easy to get the support you and your heart need.
If You Suspect A Heart Attack
If the person takes chest pain medication, such as nitroglycerin for known heart conditions, help them take it. If the pain does not go away promptly after three minutes of taking the medication, proceed to follow these steps.
Step 1: Call 9-1-1.
A heart attack is a life-threatening emergency, and treatment works best when you get to the hospital quickly. Every second wasted could mean heart tissue lost. If you suspect someone is having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 right away, preferably within five minutes of when symptoms begin. Tell the emergency line operator that you or someone you know is having a heart attack. Do not hang up until youre told to do so. Make sure your door is unlocked so that when first responders arrive, they dont have trouble getting to you during these critical moments. Emergency medical services providers are equipped with knowledge and resources that can save a life and can provide needed treatment in the shortest amount of time.
Step 2: Keep calm and wait for help to arrive.
Loosen any tight clothing and get as comfortable as possible. Sit down, rest, and try to keep calm. The person experiencing symptoms of a heart attack should never drive themselves to an emergency center. If the person is not allergic to aspirin, have them chew and swallow a baby aspirin it works faster when chewed and not swallowed whole.
Step 3: Begin CPR if needed.
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What Do I Do During A Heart Attack
If you or someone else is having a heart attack:
- You or someone else should call 911 immediately if you suspect a heart attack.
- Every minute matters, and emergency professionals can transport heart attack victims to the hospital much faster than if theyre taken by others. Emergency professionals can also initiate interventions and notifications that lead to quicker treatment at the hospital.
- Emergency professionals are also trained in what to do if a persons heart stops beating and will have equipment and other resources on board the ambulance to intervene on the trip to the hospital.
Water And Cayenne Pepper
Another online recommendation thats not effective is to drink a glass of water with a spoonful of cayenne pepper in it. Some people say cayenne pepper is a stimulant capable of increasing the heart rate and carrying blood all over the body, balancing circulation. Some claim that cayenne pepper can stop bleeding instantly.
There is no proof, however, that cayenne pepper or other types of pepper are useful when taken at the onset of a heart attack. Whats more, its not understood how capsaicin might interact with aspirin when taken during a heart attack and experts know that aspirin is helpful.
While you cant control all your heart attack risk factors, such as aging, gender , and heredity, there are some that you can control. To prevent your risk of a heart attack:
- Stop smoking and minimize your exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Get your high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure under control by modifying your diet, losing weight, taking medication, or doing a combination of these things.
- Stay physically active daily.
- Control your weight if youre overweight or obese.
- If you have diabetes, take care by sticking to your treatment plan and managing your blood sugar.
- Get a handle on the stress in your life by practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or yoga, or try talk therapy.
- Limit your alcohol consumption.
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Arm Back Neck Jaw Or Stomach Pain Or Discomfort
Heart attack pain may not be confined to the chest area. Pain or discomfort in your arm, back, neck, jaw, or stomach can also be heart attack-related.
But many people do not associate pain in these areas with having a heart attack which may prevent them from getting immediate medical attention.
Some head-to-toe signs of a heart attack include:
- Jaw, neck, or back pain
- Arm or shoulder pain or discomfort
- Shortness of breath
If you feel sudden discomfort in these areas, call 9-1-1.
What Should I Do In A Heart Attack Emergency
The first thing to do is phone 999 immediately for an ambulance.
You should then sit and rest while you wait for the ambulance to arrive.
Aspirin can sometimes help, but dont get up and look around for an aspirin, as this may put unnecessary strain on your heart.
If youre not allergic to aspirin and have some next to you – or if there is someone with you who can fetch them for you – chew one adult aspirin tablet . If the aspirin isnt nearby, however, anyone with you should stay with you and not go looking for aspirin.
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