As we age, the notion of having a heart attack begins to seep into our minds as a real possibility.
The good – and maybe not so good news for some – is that the actual occurrence of what we commonly know as a heart attack is often the result of the lifestyle we’ve led up to that point. Furthermore, lifestyle establishes how well an individual survives and thrives after a heart incident.
To fully understand heart health, it is important to know that there really are two different situations that most people tend to lump together and describe as a “heart attack.” These two heart maladies differ greatly. The first one is technically known as a myocardial infarction and the most common of the two conditions.
A myocardial infarction occurs when one or more of your arteries that supply blood to the heart become blocked from a buildup of cholesterol or other substances in the body. When that occurs a heart attack ensues. Fortunately, most victims in the U.S. typically survive this once fatal form of heart attack.
The other condition is called sudden cardiac arrest. The most common cause of cardiac arrest is ischemic heart disease. Presentation of cardiac arrest is usually more sudden and a loss of consciousness is often accompanied with presentation. Advanced Cardiac Life Support has created algorithms for healthcare professionals to work through for treatment of cardiac arrest.
One of the most important things to understand about any heart ailment is that you must actively address the situation and discuss any signs, including what you think could be false alarms, with your doctor. With heart ailments every second counts.
Often, the early symptoms of a heart ailment go undetected as just a normal part of aging. However, if you are having trouble breathing, feel tingling or numbing in the left arm or shoulder, or feel pressure or weight building in the chest’s center it is time to call for help. If you are female you may also experience pain in the back of the jaw.
Many heart attack victims also reported becoming sweaty, nauseous or light-headed and have a sense of depression or impending doom.
The good news is that, with a little effort, you can treat, reduce the likelihood, or help prevent the heart attack from happening by simply changing some unhealthy habits you have acquired over the years.
Of course, reducing risk factors is a big part of preventing a cardiac event. Strong risk factors associated with a serious cardiac event include:
- A family history of premature coronary artery disease
- 65 years of age and older
- Obesity and metabolic syndrome
- Physical inactivity
- Drug use
- Chronic kidney disease
The first and most important change to implement and follow daily is a regular regime of exercise. It’s important to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day to raise your activity level whenever possible.
No matter what you do with your new health regime we stress how important it is to quit smoking. Smoking has a profound impact on every cell of your body. Another less popular, but necessary change to make for better heart health is to cut alcohol intake to a happy minimum which will help reduce your cholesterol.
And remember, by losing weight, working to stay stress-free, and enjoying a healthy diet your overall heart health will improve and your chances of never suffering the ramifications of a major heart attack will be greatly reduced.
- Amar, K., & Arman, A. (2016, April 11). Cardiac Arrest. Retrieved from https://online.epocrates.com/diseases/28311/Cardiac-arrest/Key-Highlights
- Sripal, B., & Mina, O. (2016, March 02). Non ST-elevation myocardial infarction. Retrieved from https://online.epocrates.com/diseases/15111/Non-ST-elevation-myocardial-infarction/Key-Highlights