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Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. This happens because coronary arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood flow can slowly become narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances that together are called plaque. This process is known as atherosclerosis. This increases the likelihood that a blood clot will form. Blood clots can block the blood flow through the heart muscle causing

parts of the heart muscle to be starved for oxygen, causing tissue damage or death. When damage or death of part of the heart muscle occurs, it is called a heart attack. Damage increases the longer an artery stays blocked. Once that muscle dies, the result is permanent heart damage.

The warning signs of a heart attack vary from person to person.  You may have just one symptom or a combination. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. A person experiencing a heart attack may not even be sure of what is happening. It's important to know the signs of a heart attack because people often misdiagnose or ignore the symptoms of a heart attack because they don’t think it could happen to them.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack include :

  • Light-headedness

  • Jaw/Neck Pain

  • Upper Back/Shoulder Pain

  • Chest Pain or Discomfort/Tightness

  • Nausea

  • Shortness of Breath

  • Fatigue 

  • Cold Sweats

If you experience any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Do not wait to call for help. Call for an ambulance
    Call 811 for T&T's ambulance service. Make sure to follow the operator’s instructions.

  • Try to stay as calm as possible and take deep, slow breaths while you wait for the emergency respondents.

Early treatment can decrease the potential damage to your heart. Even if you're not sure if something is really wrong, you should get to a hospital if you experience heart attack symptoms. 

Risk Factors for Heart Attack:

  • Smoking - Smoking hardens the arteries and forces the heart to work harder. Smokers have a much

higher risk of having a heart attack than non-smokers.

  • High cholesterol -An imbalance of cholesterol in your blood can lead to a heart attack or stroke as it

increases the likelihood of blockages, cutting off blood supply.

  • High blood pressure - If blood pressure is too high, it can damage the arteries making them

susceptible to atherosclerosis and put strain on the heart. 

  • Diabetes - Diabetes seriously increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease especially when

combined with other risk factors.

  • Lack of physical activity - Not getting enough physical activity can negatively affect heart health. 

  • Obesity - Being overweight or obese increases your risk of not only heart disease of developing other risk factors. 

  • Unhealthy diet - Dietary habits can influence other risk factors, such as cholesterol, blood pressure,

diabetes and being overweight.

  • Alcohol - Alcohol raises blood pressure and can affect your heart rhythm. The suggested serving is no

more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women.

  • Stress - Stress may lead to risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, smoking and

unhealthy diet.

  • Depression - There can be a greater risk of heart disease for people who have depression. like stress,

depression can lead to the development other risk factors.

Recovery:

The heart muscle begins to heal soon after a heart attack however, scar tissue may form in the damaged area, which does not contract or pump as well as healthy muscle tissue. The degree of loss of function depends on the size and location of the scar tissue. Heart attack survivors have to make important lifestyle changes and possibly take medication to prevent a future heart attack and lead a full, productive life.

Lifestyle changes are important steps in preventing  another heart attack, these include:

  • Quit Smoking 

  • Physical Activity 

  • Healthy eating 

  • Maintaining a healthy weight

  • Taking Medication as prescribed

Track your journey to a healthier heart. Work with your doctor to formulate a heart health plan.