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 HOME > Heart Attack Warning Signs
 

What is heart attack ?
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A heart attack (also called myocardial infarction) is when part of the heart muscle is damaged or dies because it isn't receiving oxygen. Oxygen is carried to the heart by the arteries (blood vessels). Most heart attacks are caused by a blockage in these arteries. Usually the blockage is caused by atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of fatty deposits (called plaque) inside the artery. This buildup is like the gunk that builds up in a drainpipe and slows the flow of water.

Heart attacks can also be caused by a blood clot that gets stuck in a narrow part of an artery to the heart. Clots are more likely to form where atherosclerosis has made an artery more narrow.


Heart Attack Warning Signs
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Some heart attacks are sudden and intense the "movie heart attack," where no one doubts what's happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

Chest discomfort -  Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Discomfort in other areas of the upper body -  Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

Shortness of breath -  May occur with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs -  These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness

As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

If you can't access the emergency medical services (EMS), have someone drive you to the hospital right away. If you're the one having symptoms, don't drive yourself, unless you have absolutely no other option.

You Can avoid having a heart attack?
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Quit smoking -  Your doctor can help you. (If you don't smoke, don't start!)

Eat a healthy diet -  Cut back on foods high in saturated fat and sodium (salt) to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Ask your doctor about how to start eating a healthy diet.

Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes.

Exercise -  This sounds hard if you haven't exercised for a while, but try to work up to at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise (that raises your heart rate) at least 4 times a week.

Lose weight if you're overweight -  Your doctor can advise you about the best ways to lose weight.

Control your blood pressure if you have hypertension.

Talk to your doctor about whether aspirin would help reduce your risk of a heart attack. Aspirin can help keep your blood from forming clots that can eventually block the arteries.


 
 

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