• LC&VA

Lets talk about heart attacks

A heart attack, which can also be referred to as a myocardial infraction or MI, is a serious medical condition that is caused by a sudden stop in blood flow to the heart, which is usually a result of a blood clot. A reduction in flow of blood to the heart can severely damage the heart muscle and can be life threatening. If you suspect that you are having a heart attack, it is important that you call an ambulance immediately. In the UK it is estimated that there is a new heart attack case every 5 minutes, that equates to 100,000 patients each year.


There are a number of different symptoms that can be associated with a heart attack. It is important to note that sometimes women may not experience symptoms, and will often think that they have bad indigestion. If you are having a heart attack then it is likely that you will experience more than one of the symptoms:

  • Chest pain – the pain will often feel like there is a large amount of pressure on your chest and may radiate into the jaw, neck, arms and back.

  • Shortness of breath

  • Feeling lightheaded

Treatment

The paramedic will tell you or your companion what they can do to help while you are waiting for an ambulance. Once you get to hospital the treatment that you have will differ depending on the severity of your heart attack. The most common treatment options are:

  • Medication to dissolve the clot

  • Surgery to restore blood flow to the heart

Causes

Coronary heart disease is the most common cause of heart attacks; it is usually caused by a ruptured piece of plaque that causes a blood clot to form and results in the blood flow to the heart becoming reduced.

The recovery time after a heart attack will differ with every case, depending on the severity of the heart attack, but most people will be able to return to work 2 weeks after their heart attack. There are 5 simple life changes that you can take to reduce your risk of having a heart attack in the first or having a second heart attack. These include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight, to reduce the stress that your heart is under

  • Quit smoking

  • Have a balanced, healthy diet – avoid foods that are high in salt and fats and always eat your 5 a day

  • Avoid consuming large amounts of alcohol

  • Aim to do 2 and a half hours of exercise each week

This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.

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Photo credit Giulio Mazzarini

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