Archive For September, 2012
As per research and study of the American Heart Association, nearly one among every four women in the United States has some sort of heart disease (cardiovascular disease). This number is greater than the number of women who die due to other medical conditions such as breast cancer, lung cancer, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The National Women’s Health Information Center states that although heart disease is fatal for both men and women, the rate of death is high in women. Types of heart diseases in women include stroke, heart failure, coronary heart disease (chest pain, heart attack) and high blood pressure, arrhythmias, atherosclerosis, angina and other diseases of the circulatory system.
Different Forms of Cardiovascular and Heart Diseases
Cardiovascular disease or heart disease arises due to several problems that create interruption in the normal functioning of the heart and the arteries in the heart. Symptoms of cardiovascular disorder in women are often subtle and hence get overlooked. Being acknowledged about the warning signs of this medical condition can help you to get the treatment at the right time and thus can save your life. Here are a few types of diseases related to the heart:
Coronary Artery Disease (Coronary Heart Disease)
This is the most common type of cardiac disorder. It affects the coronary arteries or vessels that supply blood to the heart. It often causes heart attacks and angina. Since heart related issues tend to develop with age, women above the age of 45 are at higher risk of getting them. As per studies, it is found that the death rate due this medical emergency is high in black women as compared to white women. Certain risk factors such as cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, being physically inactive, etc., increase the chances of a person to develop this heart problem. However, by making a few changes in your lifestyle, you can cope up with this condition.
This is a form of heart disease, which involves hardening and thickening of the arteries. As we get older, hardening of the arteries is natural. This medical condition causes narrowing of the inner walls of the arteries due to the deposition of plaque (cholesterol, fats and other substances). Formation of blood clots block the blood supply to the heart, which can to lead to strokes and heart attack. Hypertension, obesity, not being physically active, smoking, diabetes, high level of cholesterol, etc., contribute to increase the risk for atherosclerosis.
When some part of the heart fails to receive adequate amount of blood supply, a feeling of discomfort and pain develops in the chest. It feels like a squeezing or pressing pain, often under the breastbone, which may further move towards the shoulders, neck, arms, back or jaw. The prime trigger for angina is excessive physical workout while other triggers can be extreme heat or cold, smoking, emotional stress, and alcohol. Angina rarely develops a permanent harsh effect on the heart such as heart attack.
Lack of blood supply to the brain may cause a blood clot or excessive internal bleeding in the brain, when any of the blood vessel gets ruptured. This may give rise to stroke. Cells of the brain begin to die if they do no receive enough oxygen and blood. Few women may also have transient ischemic attacks or mini strokes, where no damage is caused to the brain. Although they do not harm, they are serious and can lead you at greater risk of developing a full stroke. Diabetes, smoking and uncontrolled blood pressure all contribute to increase your chances of stroke.
Congestive Heart Failure
When the heart stops pumping blood through the body, a person is said to have heart failure. However, it doesn’t mean that the heart stops working actually. This condition develops in small stages as with time and may cause a huge impact on the lifestyle and ability to carry out routine activities such as bathing, getting around and dressing.
Congestive heart failure occurs due to congestion and accumulation of fluid. But this is the only symptom that develops in few people who undergo failure of the heart. Heart failure can be categorized into two types: systolic heart failure and diastolic heart failure. Each person may experience various symptoms for each category.
Systolic heart failure is caused when the ability of the heart to pump blood reduces. In this condition, the heart is not able to push adequate amount of blood to the circulatory system, resulting into the accumulation of fluid into the lungs, as the blood supply from the lungs towards the heart works for backup. This condition is known pulmonary congestion. If this condition is not treated on time, it may worsen the condition of the patient.
Diastolic heart failure refers to the condition in which the heart experiences difficulty in resting or relaxing. In diastolic heart failure, the ventricles ( lower chambers) of the heart become too stiff to expand and relax. They become unable to pump adequate amount of blood to the heart.
Heart Disease due to Infections
This is an inflammatory disorder which may occur when the streptococcus bacterial infection (strep throat or scarlet fever) remains untreated. This may lead to further complications. Rheumatic fever may damage the heart valves and develop brain, joints and skin problems. Symptoms of this disorder may include abdominal pain, fever, cardiac problems (chest pain or shortness of breath), skin rash, joint swelling or bleeding in the nose. Antibiotics are available to treat this condition.
This refers to an inflammation of the endocardium (interior lining of the heart), which develops as a result of bacterial infection. Patients undergoing this medical condition may experience excessive sweating, fever and chills. It may also cause joint pain, weight loss, abnormal urine color, weakness and shortness of breath. Women with a history of using intravenous drug or presence of congenital heart disease are at higher risk of developing endocarditis. It may also develop in pateints who had recent dental work or rheumatic fever. This condition can be treated with antibiotics and hospitalization in initial stages, but if remained untreated, it may develop serious complications such as severe damage of heart and stroke.
This condition develops due to the swelling and irritation in the pericardium (thin layer or skin that surrounds the heart). It generally remains for a short period, but causes sharp chest pain, similar to heart attack or angina. This condition often develops at a younger age and is generally caused due to viral infection that initiates cold. It may also result due to the viruses that are responsible for causing chicken pox, influenza, hepatitis B, rubella and mumps.
If you discover any of the signs that indicate a heart disease, rush to your health care provider. There are certain drugs and medicines that can help you to find a way out to reduce the risk factors and treat various types of heart diseases in women. Having healthy food and being physically active can also help you to lower your prospects of various cardiac disorders.
As per studies, cardiovascular disease is one the prime causes of deaths in America. Over 62 million people have some type of cardiovascular disease. This disease can be categorized into several types – some are congenital (present in the genes and develop since birth), whereas most types of heart diseases develop over certain time period and affect the victims later in life.
Generally, blood and heart diseases are called “silent killers”, since they often develop eventually and can remain unnoticed for a long time. A majority of heart problems develop when the blood supply to the heart gets interrupted due to the build-up of cholesterol (plaque), fats and blood clots, which slowly clog the arteries and make them narrow. Narrowing of arteries result into the decrease or complete restriction of blood supply to the heart. This condition is referred as hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis. Lack of blood supply to any organ of the body may disturb the functioning of that organ. For example, lack of blood supply to the brain may cause stroke, while inadequate blood supply to the heart may result into heart attack.
Here are a few common types of heart diseases that may probably lead a person towards death.
Coronary Heart Disease/Coronary Artery Disease
Failure of coronary blood circulation is referred as coronary heart disease. This condition causes due to the inadequate supply of oxygenated blood to the heart, which may damage the cardiac muscles and the other tissues surrounding the heart. This condition may cause sudden death of the patient without any indication.
Hypertensive Heart Disease
This condition directly or indirectly is caused due to high blood pressure. In hypertensive heart disease, the cardiac muscle thickens since the heart functions hardly to manage the high blood pressure. This condition also gives rise to essential hypertension and is also responsible for the aortic failure, renal failure and heart failure.
This is a type of coronary artery disease. Ischemia is a condition when the blood supply to the heart muscles is restricted, but develops very little symptoms or pain. Severe discomfort can be experienced often during physical exertion.
This means pain and discomfort due to insufficient supply of nutrients and oxygen to the heart. Usually, coronary artery spasm or atherosclerosis causes angina. This condition is different for everyone. While it often arises when the heart is functioning harder than usual such as during an emotional or physical stress or after a meal, it can also arise when a person is resting. In most cases, angina develops initially in the chest and moves down towards the left arm. However, in some cases, it may be any discomfort that moves towards the chest, through the shoulders, towards the upper back, both right and left arms, throat, neck, or jaw. Its symptoms may include:
- Sweating or dizziness
- Shortness of breath
- Tingling or numbness
- Sensation of heart burn
If many of these conditions last for more than 15 minutes, call 911 to get immediate medical attention.
Cardiomyopathy is mainly a group of disorders that affects the muscle of the heart (myocardium). This condition can be categorized into three types depending on the kind of muscle problem.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: In such case, the heart muscle becomes thicker than the usual size.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy: In such condition, the heart chambers get enlarged and the heart muscles get weak.
Restrictive cardiomyopathy: In this condition, the heart becomes rigid and gets disable to efficiently fill the heart chambers with blood.
Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)
In this condition, a part of the heart lacks blood supply which causes damage or destruction of the heart muscle. If the damage is minor and the heart suddenly receives adequate oxygen, nutrients, and blood, the damage is usually recoverable. Hence, it is significant for the heart attack victim to call for immediate medical help. Symptoms of myocardial infarction include:
- Intense pain in chest with a feeling of heavy pressure that continues for more than minutes
- Fainting or lightheadedness
- Pain in other body parts such as arms, upper abdomen, neck, back, jaw, etc.
- Shortness of breath and rapid heart beat
- Sensation of nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue and cold sweating
If you observe any of these signs over 15 minutes and are certain that they are heart related, don’t delay. Immediately call for medical assistance.
Sometimes disturbance may occur in the electrical system of the heart and it stops working normally. It may slow down, become fast, skip beats, become irregular or sometimes do not receive the signals in right sequence. This makes the heart to beat slower or faster than erratically or normal. Such abnormal rhythms are known arrhythmias. They may give rise to various symptoms: fatigue, fainting, chest pain, pounding of the heart, shortness of breath, dizziness or rapid palpitations (flutters). If arrhythmia is left untreated, it may become life threatening. Arrhythmia is categorized into four major types:
- Ventricular Tachycardia (VT)
- Extra or irregular heartbeats
- Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)
Inflammatory Heart Disease
In this condition, the heart muscle and the surrounding tissues get inflamed due to an infection that develops from virus or bacteria or due to an internal peculiarity.
Here are some types of inflammatory heart diseases:
- Inflammatory cardiomegaly
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
Similar to the heart, all body tissues require nutrients and oxygen to survive and function. Atherosclerosis or fatty plaques can also affect arteries through which oxygen rich blood is supplied to the other body parts. For example, this disease occurs when the feet or legs lack oxygenated blood due to the blockage or interruption. This impasse in the blood vessels divests the legs and feet of the nutrients and oxygen and develops signs often in the calf muscle, thigh and feet. Here are some warning signs of PAD:
- Brown spots over the skin
- Numbness and tingling
- Loss of hair at the lower part of the leg
- Cramping and pain while walking
- Ulcers, swelling and decrease speed of healing wounds
- Changes in the skin color of the legs: foot colors turn to blue from pink
This may occur when the heart stops pumping adequate amount of blood. It doesn’t cause an immediate death or even stops the heart from functioning; moreover, it damages the heart muscles. It just indicates that your heart is not squeezing. Heart failure often occurs gradually and worsens the condition of the patient over the time. Here are the few causes of heart failure:
- Presence of heart defects since birth
- Coronary artery disease
- High blood pressure
- Lung disease (Emphysema)
- Disorder related to the heart valves
- Past heart attack
Warning signs of this medical condition involves:
- Pulmonary congestion due to the accumulation of certain fluids in the lungsSwelling in the legs, feet, or ankles known as edema.
- Other signs may involve sleep apnea, fatigue, wheezing and cough.
Heart valve problems or obstruction defects: A stumbling block is a narrowing that partially or entirely blocks the blood supply. Blockage called stenoses may occur in the heart veins, arteries or valves.
- Bicuspid aortic valve
- Pulmonary stenosis
- Mitral valve prolapse
- Aortic stenosis
- Subaortic stenosis
Valvular Heart Disease
This type of disease affects one or multiple heart valves. Valvular heart disease affects four major valve of heart including aortic and tricpusid valves that are located at the right side of the heart in addition to the aortic valves and mitral valves located at the left side of the heart. A person can acquire this disorder either at a later stage or it can develop before birth. Other disorders such as congenital heart disease, Rheumatic fever, cardiac dilation, etc., can also contribute to the development of this heart disease.
The different forms of valvular heart diseases are:
- Bicuspid aortic valve disease
- Congenital valve disease
- Mitral valve prolapse (MVP)
- Acquired valve disease
After learning about all the different types of heart diseases and their symptoms, one can get a guideline about when to rush to the doctor for taking the required medical treatment.
The hour during and after the heart attack is the most critical hour. If the patient is not rendered with prompt medical attention in this hour, the prospects of survival are decreased with every passing minute. Some heart attacks are intense and sudden, whereas most attacks begin gradually with mild discomfort or pain. In most cases, victims aren’t sure what is happening and they wait for too long before getting a medical aid. As with, pain in the center of the heart is one of the prime heart attack symptoms in men as well as women. However, the symptoms of heart attack in men are quite severe as compared to women.
Learn warning signs, but remembers that in case you are not certain it’s a heart attack, prefer checking it out (discuss your symptoms with doctor). Doctors recommend if you experience any of these symptoms to immediately call your emergency response number or dial 911 (always the fastest mode to get life saving aid), so an ambulance can come to take you to the hospital. Minutes matter! Quick action can save lives, may be of your loved ones or your own. Don’t delay in making call for getting emergency medical aid. Emergency medical services (EMS) people are also trained to resuscitate the patient whose heart has stopped working. Patients who arrive by ambulance receive quick treatment at the emergency room.
A heart attack is a medical emergency in which the blood supply to the coronary arteries gets restricted due to the narrowing or blockage in the arteries. This condition is termed as coronary artery disease. Due to the interruption in the supply of oxygen rich blood to the heart, the heart muscles either get damaged or begin to destroy, thus making permanent impairment inevitable. This condition can also be termed as myocardial infarction and was considered a medical emergency that typically develops only men. However, as per latest medical studies, it is been discovered that this condition affects women too. However, they may not develop symptoms as pronounced or critical than those in the case of men. Also, most of the signs that men show may not be seen in women.
Previously, almost all heart attacks were life threatening, but now with the increased awareness and advancement in technology, death rate due to coronary heart disease has come down dramatically. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a device which can help to save the life of the patient when monitored within few minutes of the attack.
What are the Typical Warning Signs ?
Over 60 percent of men who undergo a heart attack experience the warning signs before the heart attack arrives in actual. Often, most men neglect the symptoms, which result into further complications.
Here is a list of some of most common heart attack symptoms in men:
Abnormal Heart Beats: Having irregular heart beats is one of the significant indications for a person suffering from this coronary heart disease. Usually, the rate of heart beats is faster than in normal condition.
Pain in other Parts of the Body: The pain in the chest may extend towards the other body parts too. The patient may experience a sensation of pain in the arms, shoulder, neck, back, jaw or teeth. In some cases, it is observed that a victim may not undergo the chest pain, but get a nagging sensation in the back, arms and shoulder. This pain is mostly confused with a normal pain and thus gets neglected, which gives rise to further complications. Hence, it is crucial to learn that if you experience pain in other body parts except the chest, it should not be neglected at all.
Discomfort in Upper Part of the Stomach: Pressure that is developing in the chest moves down towards the stomach, which results into protracted upper abdomen pain. It can sometimes also be called referred pain in the stomach.
Discomfort: In addition to chest pain, many patients experience discomfort. If you observe both these at a time, call for emergency medical assistance immediately.
Cold Sweating: Abnormal sweating can be an indicator that you may soon experience a heart attack, but often men assume that this can be due to feeling warm. It becomes mandatory to analyze the reason for such condition, so that the person can receive the treatment at the right time and can prevent the extensive damage to the heart.
Fainting: Although there are several reasons behind this condition, heart attack is also one among them. In case if you have observed any other sign for a long period before the episode of fainting, there is a need of immediate move for medical help.
Shortness of Breath or Abnormal Breathing: Due to the insufficient blood supply to the certain heart muscles, they start lacking oxygen and as a result the person suffers from shortness of breath.
Feeling of Being Light-headed: Constant feeling of being light headed can also be considered as a sign of heart attack.
Vomiting and Nausea: Vomiting and nausea are most common in many other medical conditions as well; however, it is also associated with heart attack at some extent. Purging may also involve blood in it. This is also an indication of an impending heart stroke. In this condition, it’s very significant to seek an immediate medical help, as this sign gives an alarm that a heart attack may occur at any time.
Indigestion: This is another sign of heart stroke which is sometimes coupled with the sensation of heartburn.
Anxiety: Many victims may suffer from an emergent attack for no particular reason before a heart stroke.
These are some of the warning signs that alarm a person about the occurrence of a heart attack. The signs and their intensity may differ for each person. As one victim might undergo excruciating pain in the chest, another victim will experience a mild chest pain.
How Heart Attack Symptoms of Men and Women Differ?
Symptoms and signs of heart disease vary noticeably between genders. Women often undergo much subtler signs that are usually overlooked as compared to the signs in men. It is equally significant to understand what women experience as symptoms of heart disease. Although they might experience the typical warning signs, as per the doctors, they often experience some common signs which include heart burn, clammy skin, unusual fatigue and dizziness. The intense pain in chest which is the most common alarming signal of heart attack in men is observed to occur in very few women. The symptoms in men, as discussed above, usually occur during or just before an attack. However, in case of women, this condition differs. They may develop the signs few months before the heart attack.
Men get more vulnerable to undergo this medical condition due to certain factors. They tend to have more serious impediment in the coronary arteries, which hold some blood supply to the heart. This causes severe clotting and impediment of the coronary arteries. Also, over consumption of alcohol and cigarette smoking in men enhance their possibilities of getting susceptible to develop heart diseases.
Heart attack symptoms in men are mostly noticeable and hence they should not be overlooked at all. Prognosis of a patient with heart attack is good if he receives the required treatment within 1 to 2 hours after the initial warning signs. Doctors strongly advise people not to wait for more than 5 minutes and get immediate medical aid or call 911 as soon as they observe any of the symptoms. This is more significant for patients with previous history of heart disease.
Every organ requires oxygen rich blood for its appropriate functioning, and the muscle that covers the heart(myocardium) is no exception. It gets oxygen supply through coronary arteries. When a fatty substance (plaque) gets deposited in the inner wall of the arteries, the diameter of the artery gets reduced and thus creates obstacles in the blood supply to the heart. This process is called atherosclerosis.
In most cases, when the plaque lining gets ruptured, it forms a blood clot which may completely or partially obstruct the blood supply. If the blockage gets enlarged enough, it will completely stop the blood flow, causing the heart muscle cells to die, and this condition gives rise to heart attack. In few cases, a coronary artery spasm restricting the blood supply is also the cause of heart attack.
Typical Causes of Heart Attack that can be Avoided
Increas in the level of cholestrol is an alarming condition for further complications like hardening and thickening of the artereies or atherosclerosis, which can sequentially cause blockage coronary arteris, along with chest pain and ultimately a heart attack. More severe condition can be blockage in the arteries that supply blood to the brain. This may give rise to a stroke and the blocked arteries in the leg may cause limping, pain or disability as well.
Cholesterol is a wax like fatty substance that is naturally available in the human body. It is generally used by the body to create various hormones including bile acids (which help in digesting the fats) and Vitamin D. While certain level of cholesterol is essential, having it in excess may block the arteries that supply blood to the heart and thus increases an individual’s prospects of getting heart disease.
Hypertension or High Blood Pressure
Hypertensive heart disease is a serious medical condition which is normally caused by extended and uncontrolled elevation of blood pressure. This condition may lead to various changes in the coronary vasculature, myocardial structure and conduction system of the heart. Heart attack or heart failure is one of the common complications of this disease.
Another cause of heart disease is Type II diabetes. When a person gains excessive weight, especially due to the intake of sugary stuff and junk food, he/she is prone to develop type two diabetes. People with this disease are at higher risk of heart diseases. The blood flowing into the arteries absorbs the fat present in this food and over time, it starts accumulating around the walls of the arteries. In some cases, the arteries get blocked at such extent that the patient needs to undergo a bypass surgery.
Keeping away from heart disease and diabetes is possible if you follow few things essentially: make sure that you eat the right food that has high nutritious value than calorific value as well as prefer food that have the least amount of cholesterol and sugar. Also, make certain that you stay active by doing some daily workout. If you choose to eat nutritious and less calorific food now, you can stay fit in future as well.
Stress can be categorized into two types: emotional stress and physical stress. Emotional stress is not only responsible for developing heart disease, but it may also cause illness and other diseases as well. The major factor that stress is so likely to cause heart disease is the rush in adrenaline that is a result of severe emotional stress that causes blood to thicken rapidly, thus increasing the risk of heart attacks and other coronary disorder. Physical stress places reproducible and quantifiable demands on the heartand is essential. Lack of physical stress may increase the risk of heart diseases.
Cigarettes have some carcinogens which get absorbed into the flowing blood, making the blood contaminated. The nicotine combines with the blood to thicken it and creates clots. Nicotine also gets deposited into the valves that supply blood to the heart and increases the risk of developing heart diseases. There are several ways to cease smoking, thus reducing your prospects of developing heart diseases. This step will save your health as well as life.
What are the Risk Factors ?
Your prospects of getting a heart attack (myocardial infarction) is generally determined by the number of risk factors you have for atherosclerosis of the coronary artery or coronary artery disease (CAD). You will be amazed to know that there are many risk factors for CAD, and most of them are quite common in Western societies. However, the good news is that many of them are under our control. So we ourselves have a great scope to say about what our chances of getting a heart attack are. The risk factors for heart disease can be categorized into two groups:
1.Those which are controllable
2.Those which are not controllable
Non-Controllable Risk Factors
We have no control on such type of risk factors. They are generally related to age, genes and sex.
- Age above or around 55 for men and over or around 65 for women
- History of chronic kidney disease
- A family history of CAD
- Woman who are post-menopausal or who have got their ovaries removed
Controllable Risk Factors
Although you cannot do much about the non-controllable risk factors, you can greatly reduce your possibilities of getting prone to heart attack by avoiding the following risk factors.
High Cholesterol: Total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels are associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease. These levels in the body can be maintained by avoiding excessive intake of cholesterol.
Obesity or Overweight: Being overweight increases one’s chances of getting heart attack, so try to avoid junk food, fatty food and drink lot of water to balance your metabolism and thus burn your fats.
Smoking: This is string risk factor for people of any age group. Consult your doctor and take remedies to quit smoking.
Hypertension: High blood pressure is one of the critical risk factors for stroke as well as heart attack. This condition can be treated to avoid further complications.
Diabetes: This is also another prime risk factor which is caused due to obesity, elevated sugar levels and other metabolic imbalance. Diabetes can be controlled or treated.
Elevated C- Reactive Protein (CRP): This causes inflammation of blood vessels which may create obstruction in the blood supply to the heart, thus giving rise to atherosclerosis or heart diseases.
Metabolic Syndrome: This syndrome is closely linked with diabetes and can be considered as a form of pre-diabetes.
Psychological Stress: Stress is directly linked to heart diseases.
Additional Risk Factors in Women
There are two more risk factors that are particular in women.
Complicated Pregnancy: Women who have diabetes or high blood pressure (preeclampsia) during pregnancy or those who have delivered low weight babies are at higher risk of getting heart disease.
Using Birth Control Pills: This condition is associated with higher risk of early heart attack. Moreover, when smoking and birth pills get combined, the risk becomes very large. As per the doctor’s recommendation, women who smoke should avoid using birth control pills.
As per the studies, most risk factors of heart attack are controllable and can be reduced by paying little attention to our habits or making few changes in our lifestyle.
Most of us know that heart attack may affect people in different ways. Being aware of the early heart attack symptoms is critical for prompt diagnosis and treatment. Many of these attacks start gradually, unlike the dramatic depiction often seen in movies. Not everyone undergoes that sharp, hitting pain that sends a person down to his knees. However, it doesn’t mean that people who do not face this situation are at less serious condition. It can cause a major damage to the structure as well as functioning of the organ. It is a fact that this medical emergency is one of the prime killers of most people in the United States, which makes it very significant for the people to understand any prodromal warning signs of heart attack.
As per study, deaths due this medical condition is a result of ventricular fibrillation of the heart that takes place before the patient can reach the hospital.Those who can safely reach the hospital have the right prognosis; around 90 percent people come in this category. However, few patients who die latter are those who have undergone major impairment of the heart muscle initially. Fortunately, techniques such as clot dissolving drugs, coronary balloon angioplasty and coronary angiography are available to reinstate blood circulation of the heart by quickly opening the blocked arteries and limiting the damage of the heart muscle. For the victims to get optimal benefit of these techniques and reduce the level of heart damage, identifying the early signs of heart attack is essential.
What are the Pre-heart Attack Signs and Symptoms?
A victim undergoing a heart attack may also be doubtful about the real condition. Signs of this medical condition may vary greatly for each person and even individuals who have already had a heart attack previously may experience different signs is a subsequent one. Prodromal or pre-heart attack signs are those which occur before an attack, usually from about 1 week to 4-6 months before. Some may report these indications up to two years before their attack. While discomfort and pain in chest is the most common indication, most myocardial infarction victims may undergo a variety of symptoms. Common prodromal heart attack symptoms are given below.
Pain and Discomfort in Chest
Prior to heart attack, most victims encounter pain and discomfort in the middle portion of the chest. Both these sensations will be apparent for different people. Some may get a feeling of squeezing and aching in the heart, while some may experience force or pressure on the chest. It can even give a sensation that the chest has engrossed or become full. However, in most cases, this pain and discomfort is not limited to the chest; it is also spread out into the other body parts like back, shoulder, arms, jaw or neck. These signs may last for minutes, hours or longer.
For many people, disruption in sleep can be an early sign. With this particular symptom, a person might feel restless and sleepless. They may also undergo bouts of insomnia, where the victim may have difficulty either in staying asleep or falling asleep. This indication may manifest weeks to months before undergoing a myocardial infraction.
It’s also usual for patients to experience a certain level of respiratory disruption preceding an attack. A person would undergo an uninitiated shortness of breath, meaning this sensation will manifest without any physical exertion or because of some activity that does not create difficulty in breathing.
Since there are certain typical factors that increase the risk of getting a heart attack like coronary artery disease, hypertension, heart defect or a cardiovascular disease, a person may undergo an abnormal level of fatigue. This is largely due to the imbalance in the heart functioning. With any of the mentioned conditions, the heart is experiencing a deprivation in oxygen and blood, or it essentially requires to work harder than usual. When any of this condition is true, it will ultimately take a toll on the victim, and he/she will start feeling fatigue day by day.
Though cognitive distress is not always considered as a sign for myocardial infarction, it can help to warn that this type of medical condition is on the horizon, especially when other early signs are present. In this condition, a person would start to experience certain level of fear or anxiety, mostly surrounding longevity and life.
It happens in most cases that people get confused with severe heartburn and heart attack, as the burning sensation in the chest is present in either condition. However, it’s also possible that indigestion can be an alarming sign of a heart attack.
Habits and Lifestyle
While not essentially an early sign of heart attack, an individual’s lifestyle can contribute largely to this medical emergency. A person’s diet, weight, emotional state and activity level play a vital role in developing symptoms of heart attack. Someone who is obese (overweight) has a sedentary life, smoking habit, high cholesterol level, high blood pressure or is in continually under stress can be at greater risk of getting heart disease.
Few people do not show any symptoms (nearly one fourth of heart attacks are sudden and silent); it means that the victim will not experience chest pain or any other symptom. These types of attacks are particularly common among diabetes mellitus patients. Although the warning signs of myocardial infarction at times can be mild and vague, it is significant to keep in mind that heart attack with mild signs or no signs can be equally severe and forbidding as heart attacks that show serious warning signs.
In most cases, patients attribute this heart attack sign to stress, indigestion or fatigue, and consequently detain in getting immediate medical aid. One cannot over-stress the significance of medical attention after experiencing the warning signs that point towards the presence of a heart attack. Prompt detection and medical attention prevent severe damage to the heart and save lives, while delay in taking medical aid can be life threatening. Your ignorance may cause permanent malfunction of the heart because of huge impairment to the heart muscle.
Too often pain is the early sign of heart attack. This discomfort can range from mild pain to serious crushing discomfort. However, this is not always the initial symptom. Nearly 20 percent of patients do not experience pain. Painless heart attacks usually occur in:
- Diabetic patients
- Older people
Pre-symptoms in the older ages may start with an emergent episode of breathlessness.
Why is Recognizing the Warning Signs of Heart Attack Important?
Most lifesaving treatments such as balloon angioplasty and clot busting work best within the first few hours after a heart attack. Many patients delay in seeking medical aid after observing the signs, and this delay may result into long-lasting damage to the heart or death. Learning to recognize the range of prodromal signs that can be experienced during or before an attack will help you to get quick medical aid and save your life.
If you have doubts about the early heart attack symptoms, consult your doctor to get the best guidance. This way you can learn the things to do as an initial medical aid to save your life.
Around 1.2 million people in the United States get prone to heart attack every year. Some of them treat this condition immediately, while a few may delay to get it treated and thus may lead towards critical condition. Coronary heart disease, which often results in heart attacks, is one of the leading reason for death in both men as well as women in the U.S. Many more people could recover better or survive from heart attack, if they have prior knowledge about heart attack and get quick aid. Among the people who die from heart attacks, about fifty percent die before they reach the hospital and within an hour of the initial symptoms.
Heart attack is a severe form of coronary artery disease. It most commonly occurs as a result of blockage in the coronary artery. If the heart does not have enough of blood and oxygen, it will stop working, thus resulting into an heart attack. Failure of this organ occurs due to coronary heart disease (CHD), which can also be termed as coronary artery disease. In this condition, a waxy substance called plaque accumulates inside the coronary arteries reducing the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This plaque take years to get built up and this condition is referred as atherosclerosis. Ultimately, a section of plaque breaks open or ruptures inside an artery leading to form a blood clot on the plaque’s surface. If the clot gets enlarged, it can mostly or completely restrict the blood supply through a coronary artery. If the patient delays in treating the blockage, the section of the heart muscle fed by the artery gets damaged and begins to die. Failure in blood supply leads to heart attack and ultimately to death.
A less common cause of this medical condition is tightening of a coronary artery or severe spasm that completely restricts the blood supply through artery. Heart attack may lead to various health issues such as life threatening arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) and heart failure. In this medical condition, the heart stops pumping enough blood that is required by the body.
Some heart attacks are intense and sudden, where most people have no doubts on what’s happening. However, it initiates slowly, with mild discomfort and pain. Here are some signs that can indicate occurrence of a heart attack:
- Discomfort and pain in the chest: In many cases, a person experiences discomfort and pain in the center of the chest that continues for more that a few minutes. It goes and comes back. It gives a sense of squeezing, pain, uncomfortable pressure or fullness.
- Shortness in breath : Difficulty in breathing, with or without chest pain.
- Pain and discomfort in other body parts: This may include pain or discomfort in the back, arms, upper part of the stomach, jaw or neck.
- Other signs may involve nausea, sleep problems, cold sweat, sudden dizziness, fatigue( tiredness), lightheadedness or lack of energy.
Being aware of these indications is essential for the patient, in order to take relevant steps when one experience any one these. Quick steps can help the patient get appropriate medical attention on time, while delay in treatment may worsen the condition.
Risk Factors for Heart Attack
Risk factors are conditions that increases an individual’s prospects of getting a disease. They can also increase prospects of worsening the existing medical condition. Some risk factors of heart diseases can be controlled, while few are uncontrollable.
- High blood cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Being physically inactive
- Age above 55
- Being over weight
- Family history of heart disease
Certain risk factors such as family history and age are uncontrollable risk factors. For few women above 55, age becomes the major risk factor. Post menopause, women are more prone to develop a heart disease due to the drop in the production of estrogen in their body. Women with early menopause, either naturally or due to hysterectomy, are twice as likely to get this disease as compared to the women of the same age without menopause. Family history of heart disease again is factor that cannot be changed. If your sister or mother had a heart attack before the age of 65 or if your brother or father had one before the age of 55, you are more likely to develop this disease.
While certain risk factors are uncontrollable, it is critical to realize that you do have control over others. Regardless of your background, general health status or age, you can decrease your risk of heart disease by following a few steps. Protecting your heart can be as easy as whipping up a delicious vegetable soup, taking a brisk walk or getting the assistance you need to stay fit and healthy. You can gradually make a little modifications in your lifestyle, but making them is very essential. Either you have one or multiple risk factors, be conscious about your health and try to avoid things that increases your chances of developing complications. Having more than one risk factors is an indication to stay more aware about your health as these risk factors gang up to worsen the condition of the patient. Know your risk factors and consult your doctor to take certain steps to reduce their impact.
Get Help Quickly
Taking quick action once you experience any on these symptoms can limit damage to your heart and save your life. Treatment works best when given at the right time.
If you think you are experiencing heart attack symptoms, call your doctor right away. This is also applicable if someone else is experiencing the symptoms. Do not drive and let some one else drive you to the hospital. Call an ambulance to get quick medical attention on the way to the emergency room. You can prefer to take aspirin(if you are not allergic to it) while waiting for the ambulance, as it will ease the blood flow for sometime. Quick action and treatment with the initial symptoms can save your life.
While heart disease is the major killer of women, most of them often chalk up the signs to less menacing condition like the flu, acid reflux, stomach ailment or normal aging. They do this as they are scared. Many women are still shocked that they could be an heart attack victim. This medical emergency may strike anyone at any time. It occurs when the oxygen rich blood flow to the heart gets decreased or cut off completely. This condition is developed when the arteries that supply blood to the heart becomes gradually harder and thicker due to the deposition of cholesterol, fat and plaque. The first thing that strikes our mind when we think about heart disease is the chest pain. Often, women rarely experience this pain; if they do, they might consider it an tight, heavy, achy feeling instead of pain. Sometimes, the pain can be felt in the back between the shoulders, rather than chest and hence most women ignore it. They might think that these signs are no big deal as it don’t seem like a heart attack. But doctors recommend not to ignore such signs and get an prompt medical attention. Heart attack symptoms in women may vary to some extent than men.
Many women think the symptoms of a heart disease are apparent, but in real they can be perceptive and sometimes confusing. You could suddenly feel shortness in breath, “ as if you ran a marathon”, but in actual you haven’t made a single move. Some women experiencing myocardial infarction describe pressure at the upper back that gives a sense of squeezing or as if they are tied with a rope. Lightheadednesss, actually fainting or dizziness are other alarming signs to look for.
What are the Typical Heart Attack Symptoms in Women?
These chest related signs often appear in men as well, and many women experience them too:
- Discomfort due to chest pain with fainting, lightheadedness, nausea, shortness of breath or sweating
- Squeezing pain, fullness or pressure in the center of the chest, which may move further towards shoulder, neck or jaw
However, many women don’t experience chest pain. As per a circulation study on early signs of heart attack in women, it is found that 43 percent of the 515 women had no acute chest pain. So, chest pain is considered as an hallmark sign in men according to study.
Nevertheless, the evidences from study reference shows that many doctors in emergency room still primarily look for chest pain. Only a few check for the other signs that women usually tend to develop.
According to the circulation study, most significant sign is unusual fatigue- even after adequate sleep. Other signs include:
- Trouble in sleeping or dizziness
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
- Feeling nervous or scared
- Worse headaches
- Lower chest discomfort
- A sense of burning in chest with tightness and heavy
- Feeling stomach ailment
- Back and shoulder pain
- Pressure in upper abdomen or discomfort due to feeling of indigestion
- Pain above the belly button, in the belly
- Tightness or pain in the chest that moves further to the neck, jaw, ear, shoulder and arms.
How to Lower the Risk of Heart Disease ?
After reading all this stuff, don’t get scared, just get a little aware and try to learn how you can cut off your risk of getting prone to heart attack. There are few steps that you can prefer to keep your heart healthy. The very first thing can be visiting your doctor after finding any of these symptoms. Don’t delay!
Many women take an aspirin when they feel they are experiencing the symptoms of heart attack and never call their doctor. In case if you have doubt about the symptoms still call 911 to get immediate medical attention. One shouldn’t ignore a single sign of this medical emergency.
Heart disease is preventable, just adopt the following tips:
- Take an appointment and visit your health care provider to know about your prospects or risk factors of developing a heart disease. You can prefer the heart attack risk calculator to learn your risk.
- Start an workout program. Walking for 30 minutes a day can help you lower you risk of stroke as well as heart attack and will make you stay fit as well.
- Quit smoking..! Are you aware of this that just one year after you quit smoking, you will reduce almost 50 percent chances of getting coronary heart disease.
- Modify your lifestyle, make changes in your diet if required. Prefer some healthy cooking and diet tips that will be helpful to stay away from extra calories and cholesterol. There you can learn healthy snacking ideas, smart substitutions, and better prep ideas. For example, use the light meat(breast) of poultry instead of the fattier meat( thighs and legs), and make sure to take off the skin.
- Find out if heart disease is an hereditary in your family.
- Get your cholesterol level and blood pressure checked often. You might need medicine to maintain level of both.
- Reduce intake of excess salt and control your diabetes.
- Try to manage your stress as being sad, stressed and angry may contribute to your chances of getting heart attack.
- Avoid smoking if you take birth control pills.
- Your doctor can assist you with some medication to cut down the chances of getting another heart attack.
- High blood pressure is considered as the silent killer. Most people have high level of blood pressure, but they do not feel sick. To stay updated with your blood pressure level check it regularly whenever you visit your doctor or clinic.
Although, heart attack symptoms in women mostly confuses with some other less threatening medical conditions, they should be considered on a serious note. If you observe any of the sign that indicates heart disease, make sure to consult your doctor immediately. Have healthy food, stay active and take care of yourself.