Heart attacks may be scary and life threatening, but learning more about them and understanding how it affects you can help give yourself and those you care about a better chance when it happens and how to help them recover.
What is a Heart Attack?
A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction, is when the flow of the blood to the heart becomes obstructed and the heart cannot receive an ample supply of blood. This can either be a full or partial blockage.
What Causes a Heart Attack?
It can be caused through a variety of factors such as:
A Blood Clot- Blood clots usually form on the outsides of our body such as when we scrape or cut our skin but they can also happen inside of our veins resulting in thrombosis. This can be caused due to a variety of factors such as age, weight, family history, smoking habits, even just sitting down for too long can cause an internal blood clot. When a blood clot travels through the body and ends up reaching the heart where it causes a blockage, this is called coronary thrombosis.
Coronary Artery Disease- The most common cause of heart attacks are through Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) which is when an individual has an elevated intake of cholesterol leads to a buildup of plaque. The plaque collects in the arteries leading to the heart where if the plaque buildup reaches a certain level, can partially or completely block the flow of blood to the heart in a process called atherosclerosis, leading to a heart attack.
What are Symptoms of a Heart Attack?
While it slightly differs between men and women, the main symptoms of a heart attack are:
Chest pain or discomfort- Can be mistaken for precordial catch. If it’s a persisting pain/discomfort lasting more than a few minutes or it comes and leaves, it could be a sign of a heart attack.
Any pain/discomfort in the neck, jaw, back, one or both arms, or stomach
Feeling out of breath/shortness of breath
Lightheadedness or dizziness
Also may include nausea or cold sweats
In the case of one or several of these symptoms occurring to yourself or someone else, it’s important to Call 911 Immediatelyand get help. Even if a person is able to survive a heart attack, it can leave lasting damage to the heart that can inhibit some abilities post recovery that cannot be reversed. In the case of a potential heart attack, the faster you or someone else can receive help from medical professionals, the better the chance of survival and better the chance of minimizing damage to the heart.
Forbes Aggabao -Alexander’s Hope Intern