Signs That You’re Having a Heart Attack

June 4, 2019

Understanding how the heart works
The heart is the hardest working muscle in the human body. The heart beats an average of 100,000 times a day and night, providing oxygen and nutrients to the entire body. The blood pumped by the heart also transports waste products, such as carbon dioxide, to the lungs so that they can be eliminated from the body. Proper heart function is vital to sustaining life.

What is a heart attack?
Coronary artery disease (CAD), commonly known as heart disease, is a buildup of cholesterol, calcium, and other fats in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This material hardens to form plaque that blocks blood flow to the heart. When the coronary arteries become narrowed by plaque buildup or other causes, the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen and a person experiences chest pain, or angina pectoris.

The link between heart disease and heart attacks
Sometimes a piece of fatty plaque in a coronary artery can break off or rupture. When this happens, a blood clot can form in the area as a result of the injury. The clot may prevent blood from flowing through the artery, leading to a heart attack. Unfortunately, some heart attacks can cause the heart to stop beating completely, a condition known as cardiac arrest. The heart may also begin to beat at a very dangerous pace known as ventricular tachycardia, which can be fatal.

Heart Disease. The number one killer.
Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, affecting an estimated 14 million adults. Heart disease kills more people in the United States than the second through seventh leading causes of death combined.

What are the risk factors for heart disease?
Certain risk factors increase the chances of developing heart disease. Some of the more common risk factors for heart disease include

high cholesterol
diabetes
Heart attack in a close relative
obesity
hypertension
smokers
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)

What are lifestyle risk factors for heart disease?
Certain lifestyle factors and choices can increase the risk of heart disease, including.

Eating a high-fat diet
Being a “Type A” (impatient, competitive, and/or competitive) person.
Physical inactivity
Experiencing emotional distress or a “stressful situation”.

Sudden Cardiac Death – Fatal Consequences of Heart Disease
Symptoms of heart disease vary from person to person. Those who experience chest pain or shortness of breath have the opportunity to receive life-saving treatment in the hospital. For others, unfortunately, cardiac arrest and death are the first symptoms of heart disease they experience.

What are the common symptoms of heart disease?
Many people with heart disease notice symptoms during physical exertion or exercise. During physical exertion, the heart needs more oxygen and nutrients, so people with heart disease may notice symptoms when they are active. Symptoms of heart disease may include

Jaw pain
Chest pains
Back pain (usually on the left side)
shortness of breath (medicine)

What are the other symptoms of heart disease?
Symptoms of heart disease may also include

nauseous
Dizziness, dizziness.
abdominal pain
Irregular heartbeat
Weakness (especially at rest)

What are the symptoms of heart disease in women, the elderly and diabetics?
Certain groups of people with heart disease may experience atypical symptoms. Many women, diabetics and the elderly do not experience pain as a symptom of heart disease. People in these groups are more likely to experience fatigue or general discomfort as a symptom of heart disease.

What is an electrocardiogram (EKG)?
Electricity flows through the heart cells to stimulate the heart muscle to contract. The heart of a person with heart disease cannot conduct electricity properly. An electrocardiogram (ECG or electrocardiogram) is a quick, painless, and noninvasive test that assesses the electrical behavior of the heart. An EKG can detect many heart conditions, including.

Current heart attacks
Previous history of heart attack
heart rhythm disorder
Abnormal blood electrolytes
unstable angina pectoris
congenital heart defect
Diseases involving inflammation of the heart (pericarditis and myocarditis).

What is a stress test?
Symptoms of heart disease usually occur during physical exertion because the heart is under stress and is not getting enough oxygen and nutrients. Stress tests are performed to observe the behavior of the heart while the patient is walking or running on a treadmill. Patients are hooked up to an ECG machine to detect heart activity before, during and after the stress test. The test is 60-70% accurate in detecting blockages in the coronary arteries. Sometimes, a patient may be too weak or out of condition to perform the stress test. In this case, the doctor may give the patient medication that simulates the heart’s activity during exercise. The patient remains stationary. Doctors may also use nuclear imaging or ultrasound to see how the heart behaves.

What is an echocardiogram?
Echocardiography is the use of sound waves to produce images of the heart. This test detects heart disease and looks at the function of the heart. A normal, healthy heart pumps 50-60% of the blood into the body with each heartbeat. A weak heart pumps less blood with each heartbeat. This can be detected by an echocardiogram and may be a sign of heart disease.

Why use computed tomography (CT scan) examinations?
Cardiac computed tomography (CT) is a test that uses X-rays to obtain detailed images of the heart’s blood vessels. The test can detect narrowing of the blood vessels and is useful in showing the absence of heart disease.

What are the advantages of a coronary angiogram over other tests?
A coronary angiogram is a test that provides a complex X-ray image of the heart. During the test, the doctor inserts a catheter into a vein in the groin and pushes it into the heart. A substance called contrast medium is injected into the coronary arteries so that they can be imaged with X-rays. These x-ray images show the location and severity of blockages in the coronary arteries.

There is no single cure for heart disease
Treatment for heart disease varies from person to person. There is no single treatment that works for every heart attack patient. Most people with heart disease are treated with a combination of diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes in addition to medication.

What are the most common medications used to treat heart disease?
A variety of medications are available to treat heart disease. Medication options include

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors reduce pressure on the heart by opening blood vessels.
Beta-blockers reduce pressure on the heart by lowering heart rate and blood pressure.
Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) increase the efficiency of the heart and lower the heart rate.
Nitroglycerin opens the arteries of the heart and increases blood flow.
Statins alter blood lipids (the fats in the blood that make up cholesterol) and reduce the risk of plaque buildup in the arteries.

What are the procedures for treating heart disease?
In addition to lifestyle changes and medications, there are a number of procedures that can be used to treat heart disease, including.

Coronary (balloon) angioplasty is a procedure in which a catheter at the tip of a balloon is advanced to the blocked area and dilated to open the blocked artery. This procedure can improve blood flow.
A stent is a small metal tube that is placed during coronary balloon angioplasty to keep the newly opened coronary artery open.

The key to preventing heart disease is through a healthy lifestyle, starting with a healthy diet.
Some risk factors for heart disease, such as genetics, cannot be controlled. However, many other risk factors for heart disease can be modified. Eating heart-healthy foods can reduce the risk of heart disease. Foods that are healthy for your heart include fruits and vegetables. Cholesterol-lowering foods such as beans, soy, chickpeas, garlic, avocados and olive oil are beneficial. Raise levels of HDL “good” cholesterol by eating nuts. Walnuts, pecans and almonds are good choices, but limit your consumption to a handful due to the high calorie content of nuts. It’s a good idea to eat fish and seafood a few times a week to increase your intake of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Avoid sugary foods, as they can promote heart disease and other chronic conditions.

Change your lifestyle. Drink alcohol in moderation and quit smoking.
Controlling your alcohol intake and avoiding smoking are two simple ways to reduce your risk of heart disease. For optimal levels of HDL “good” cholesterol, women should have no more than one drink per day and men should have no more than two drinks per day. People who smoke and then quit smoking reduce their risk of heart disease to the level of non-smokers three years after they quit.

Reduce your risk of heart disease through exercise, aspirin, and controlling high blood pressure and diabetes.
Some simple measures can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Talk to your doctor before implementing these measures to make sure they are safe for you.

Daily low-dose aspirin therapy has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack.
Exercise at least 30 minutes 3 to 5 days a week to optimize blood lipids (lower “bad” LDL and raise “good” HDL cholesterol), lower blood pressure, and strengthen heart muscle.
If you have diabetes or high blood pressure (or both), control them. High blood pressure and high blood sugar are damaging to the heart.