Archive For August, 2012
When most of us think about heart attack, the first thing that strikes our mind is someone griping their chest due to pain and collapsing on the floor. This is what we see in most of the films as well. While sensation of pain in chest is the most common indication of a heart attack, not everyone experiences the same symptom. As per studies, men are more likely than women to experience chest pain during a heart failure. Most women have so called “atypical” signs, such as nausea, back pain or fatigue. Recent statistics shows that heart attack is an leading killer for both men and women in the United States.
When the heart muscles lack the required blood (and consequently oxygen) it stops working and a heart attack occurs. In medical terms, this condition can be known as cardiac infarction, myocardial infarction and coronary thrombosis. Infarction is the process in which an segment of heart tissue is dead due to failure of blood supply and infarction of a heart muscle segment due to occlusion of a coronary artery results into an heart attack.
In general terms, it can be said that when one of the blood vessels leading towards the heart muscle gets collapsed due to formation of blood clot, a person confronts a heart attack. If the clot is big, it may completely stop the blood flow to the heart. Obstruction in blood supply can also develop due to the sudden narrowing of artery as in spasm.
Common Symptoms of Heart Attack
Chest pain is one of the primary indication or symptom of a heart failure in both women and men. Women generally describe their chest pain as tightness, pressure or an ache, however, they often do not undergo severe pain during an attack; for this reason, a milder chest pain in women should be taken seriously. Usually, a sense of discomfort develops in the center of the chest that continues for more than a few minutes; this sensation is more like tightness, pressure and squeezing.
Other common signs of heart attack includes:
- Pain in other body parts: in this condition one feels as if the pain is traveling from chest towards arms (often towards the left arm, but it may affect both arms as well), neck, abdomen, jaw and the back.
- Shortness of breath (this may occur before or with chest discomfort)
- Feeling of sickness
- An overwhelming feeling of anxiety (similar to panic attack)
- Nausea (sense of discomfort in stomach, sudden dizziness, vomiting or breaking out in cold sweat
- Feeling of light headed
- Wheezing and coughing
- Sleep problems, lack of energy or tiredness (fatigue)
The severity of pain may vary significantly for each individual. For most, the pain is severe and can be described like a huge weight is kept on the chest. While for others, it can be minor and similar to the sense of indigestion. Often older people and diabetic patients do not feel any chest pain. It’s not only the chest pain that is significant in determining whether a person is going to get an heart attack, but it’s the overall pattern of indications.
Why Recognizing Heart Attack Symptoms is Important ?
Some lifesaving heart attack treatments, such as balloon angioplasty and inserting clot busting, work best if used within the initial hours after the attack occurs. Many patients wait for more than two hours after they start observing the symptoms before seeking medical aid. This delay may result in long-lasting heart damage or death. Learning to recognize the extensive range of signs that may be experienced during or before a heart attack will help the person to acquire the right treatment quickly and may even save their life.
Things to do After Observing Heart Attack Symptoms
Do not worry, in case you are doubtful about whether your symptoms indicate a heart attack. Assume that you are experiencing it and dial 911 to call an ambulance immediately. It is the safest way to avoid further complications and save your life.
While waiting for ambulance you need to take some essential steps:
Chest compression : Chest compression can be done by placing both the hands right at the center of the person’s chest. Interlock the fingers of both the hands and press straight down 5cm onto the chest with the heel of the hand. Try to give the chest compressions at a rate 100 compressions per minute. For guidance, you can watch the video available on various medical sites.
Cardiac Arrest: In some sudden cases, cardiac arrest may occur. This is a complicated condition in which the ventricular arrhythmia leads to the heart first getting into spasms and then discontinuing the beats altogether.
Signs of indicating this condition may include:
- A person stops moving
- Appears not to be breathing
- Stops responding to any stimulation, such as being spoken to or touched
In case of cardiac arrest, use the automated external defibrillator (if you have access to it), for rebooting the heart. This is a portable electric device that efficiently helps to restart the heart. If you do not have access to this device, chest compressions can be helpful to reinstate the heart.
Heart attack never occurs without warning, so once you experience any of these symptoms try to follow the given steps and make sure to consult your doctor as early as possible. Do not even avoid the minor symptoms as they may develop complicated or severe later.