Heart Attack 101


Authored by Jackie Acosta in Diseases 
Published on 12-18-2008

Heart attack is one of the most common causes of death in the 21st century. With the frequency of occurrences and the common knowledge of avoiding fatty or cholesterol infused foods to avoid a heart attack, people tend to take for granted that a more in depth knowledge is needed to further minimize the risk. An in-depth knowledge would also help a person have a presence of mind when this deadly heart condition happens to them or a loved one. There are ways to reduce the effects of heart attack if the proper actions are taken before it becomes too late – for heart attack victims; this may be a matter of mere seconds.

Heart attack occurs when the arteries in the heart becomes clogged causing the blood circulation to get cut in dangerous levels or completely block blood circulation in one portion of the heart. A blood clot then forms and which would completely obscure the circulation in a coronary artery. This is dangerous especially in the absence of anyone who knows how to handle the situation.

Not all heart attack victims know when they are having an attack. For this reason, it is important to know very well the symptoms of heart attack. Permanent injury to the heart only happens when a person acts too late. The most obvious symptom, which some tend to think IS the ONLY sign of Heart attack is pain or pressure in the chest area that lasts for a few minutes.

Another symptom that is pain, pressure or a burning sensation that spreads through various parts of the body – the shoulders, arm, neck, chest, upper abdomen, arms or the jaw. Lightheadedness that goes with discomfort in the chest may also be a sign of heart attack. A few other symptoms should be observed: Sudden paleness or pastiness of the skin; Fainting; shortness of breath; depression; anxiety or nervousness with cold sweat and increased heart rate.

Not all symptoms show in a person. The signs may also come and go. Should any of the symptoms occur, the first thing a person must do is to call a doctor and make sure that help is on the way. While waiting for the ambulance, it is important to stay calm and try to get the heart attack victim to sit or lie down and feel relaxed by reassuring that help is on the way.

If the person has taken medications in the past for chest pain, get the medicine and make sure that it is taken. If the person is not allergic to aspirin and is over 18 yrs old, this may also be given. Should the person fall unconscious, there are two things to check – the pulse and breathing. If breathing stops, CPR is required immediately. Once the pulse goes stronger and breathing returns, very gently roll over the patient onto their side to prevent saliva, mucus or vomit to block the air passage. For this reason, everyone should have knowledge on how to conduct CPR. If this is not taught in school, one should make an effort to consult first aid professionals on how to do basic CPR. This simple act has proven to save lives many times over.

Given the basic knowledge on how to battle heart attack would lessen the casualties and the irreversible injuries that it can cause.


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