While Christmas season is often seen as a time of joy, love, and giving, it can also bring a lot of stress. Holiday-related stress is actually quite common, especially considering the increase of financial and emotional stress in people’s lives.
This stress is one of the major factors why cardiovascular problems are also more common. Aside from stress, people also over-exert themselves during the holiday season and indulge in foods and drinks that can cause heart health problems if not consumed in moderation.
With these facts in mind, we share with you the different ways you can identify if you or someone you know is having a heart attack so the proper emergency measures can be taken.
Knowing the warning signs of a heart attack can help you save someone else’s life or your own.
What is a heart attack?
A person has a heart attack when the blood flow to the heart suddenly gets obstructed. In most cases, this blockage is due to the accumulation of cholesterol, fat, and other substances that form a plaque in the coronary arteries.
This lack of blood to the heart can lead to serious damage to the heart muscle and can be life-threatening.
To find out more about how heart attacks occur and what to do when it happens to someone you know, consider enrolling in a first aid training course in Melbourne or consult with a healthcare professional.
Warning signs of a heart attack
Not all heart attacks are the same. For instance, while the most common symptom is chest pain, a person can also have a heart attack without feeling any discomfort around the chest area. In short, signs of a heart attack can vary, especially for women.
Typical warning signs include:
1. Upper body discomfort, pressure, and pain
As mentioned before, the most common warning sign of a heart attack is chest discomfort, pain, and/or pressure. This feeling can linger for a few minutes and disappear. In some cases, the feeling comes back after several hours or even after a day.
The pressure, pain, or discomfort may also typically hit certain parts of the upper body, specifically the back, shoulder, jaw, neck, or upper abdomen. This can indicate that your heart muscle isn’t getting the oxygen supply it needs to function properly.
2. Shortness of breath
When a heart attack or heart failure occurs, the lungs can get filled with fluids that cause breathing problems. This can happen even when the person is in a state of rest. When a person experiences this symptom, it may or may not occur with upper body discomfort.
3. Excessive sweating
Even if a person isn’t exercising or doing anything strenuous, if he or she is having a heart attack, that person may experience excessive sweating.
This is another sign that the heart isn’t getting enough blood because of the blocked arteries. Because the heart requires more effort to pump blood, the body reacts by sweating more.
In most cases, heart palpitations don’t necessarily indicate a health issue. They are, however, still one of the symptoms of a heart attack.
This feeling is described as a fluttering feeling in your heart where it pounds or beats irregularly for a few seconds or minutes. You may also feel this sensation around your throat or neck area.
Other warning signs worth mentioning
A person having a heart attack may also experience the following:
What to do if you suspect someone is having a heart attack
- Call for emergency help.
- If you have first aid training, apply the recommended emergency measures.
- Let the affected person rest by sitting down.
- Engage the affected person in conversation to help them stay conscious until professional help arrives.
If the affected person isn’t breathing, is unconscious, or has no pulse, perform CPR to keep their blood flowing.
Risk factors and possible ways to reduce them
The following are contributing risk factors that increase the possibility of a person developing a heart attack:
- Family history
- Poor diet
- High cholesterol
- Alcohol and tobacco use
- High blood pressure
- Physical inactivity
Even if cardiovascular problems are common in your family, there are lifestyle adjustments that you can apply to decrease your chances of suffering from a heart attack. It includes doing the following:
- Limit or stop drinking alcohol and smoking
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Eat healthier food
- Reduce stress in your life
- Incorporate more physical activity
Knowing the warning signs of a heart attack can help you save someone else’s life or your own. Of course, applying the proper lifestyle changes to prevent heart attacks from happening is still the best option in any case. In the end, it all boils down to how well you can take care of your mind and body to prevent not just cardiovascular disease but other health issues as well.
Have you or a loved one had a heart attack?
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