With recent lifestyle changes, more and more people, younger in age, are falling prey to heart attacks. While some silently suffer the attack during their sleep and never wake up, others have symptoms which they dismiss as acidity or muscular pain and ignore them. There are multiple media programs that are trying to create awareness about how to identify a heart attack. If done at the right time, there is a good chance that the person can be saved.
What is a Heart Attack?
The blood vessels gradually narrow, reducing the blood flow to the target organs. This reduces the efficiency of the target organ, and if this happens to be the heart, it is known as a heart attack. The area that should ideally receive blood does not, leading to its “death.” If the damage is not severe, it can be reversed. However, if this attack happens in one of the critical areas of the heart, it can even be fatal.
Symptoms to watch for: Very few attacks happen suddenly. Most start slowly and progress, and if identified on time, a life can be saved. The episode takes about an hour, and if you are well-versed with the symptoms, it could help identify the condition correctly and save a life. Most people use antacids and muscle relaxants to ease the situation, which does provide immediate relief, but not a proper cure.
Chest discomfort: There is a central pain which is constant, nagging, and has a squeezing like sensation. This causes discomfort and most often, this pain is in the center of the chest area, which lasts for just a few minutes. Sometimes the pain can go and come back. This pain radiates down into the arm, up into the neck area, and also into the jaw and is almost always indicative of a heart attack.
There is almost always profused sweating where the person breaks into a cold sweat.
If the attack happens during sleep, the person may be snoring and may feel as if something is choking his airway.
Due to reduced return of blood from the peripheral organs, there could be swelling of the feet and ankles.
Irregular heart beat: If there is irregular heart beat (palpitations) very often, talk to your doctor about it.
When you suspect a person of having a heart attack, check for these signs. Very often, a heart attack is detectable and can be managed with timely intervention. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
A heart attack allows you to get a double take on life. Once you survive it, you tend to realize how close your brush with death has been and how important your lifestyle choices can be. Most people go on to live a productive life after a heart attack provided they can adhere to making healthy choices. Here's what you can do if you have experienced your first attack and want to change for the better:
1. Start at the hospital: A person usually stays in the hospital for 3 days after an attack to monitor their condition. This duration increases if you have complications that involve procedures like a bypass surgery. Your first significant change will come to your medication routine. Your existing dosages may be adjusted and you'll possibly prescribed newer medicines that will treat and control your symptoms. You'll not only need to know the names of all your medicines but when you have to take them. Its best you know exactly why are taking each of them, if there are other more economic alternatives since this may last a lifetime and what side effects they may have.
2. Maintaining your mental health: Once bitten, twice shy applies for heart attack victims too. Not only do they live in a constant worry about another attack, every small symptom like a harmless muscle pull can trigger the fear factor. You also get into the "heart patient" dependent mode based on how much help you need to recover. Check for support groups and other heart attack survivors in your locality to see how they are coping. Read more about your recovery and try to keep a positive frame of mind.
3. Go for cardiac rehab: Many hospitals have a rehabilitation program that you can participate in as an outpatient or you can go to a clinic that specializes in it. Such programs help speed up your recovery. It is run by people who will hand hold you in bringing positive changes in your life to protect and strengthen your heart. You'll learn activities that positively improve heart functions and reduce your chances of developing complications or dying from heart disease. You'll also benefit from exercises that'll be taught by a certified exercise specialist.
4. Making lifestyle changes: Quitting smoking is an obvious one. You'll now have to lead a more active lifestyle with daily exercise. You'll also need to actively manage your diabetes and obesity. None of these changes can happen in a day. In fact, behavioural scientists suggest that you need to practice a new activity continuously for twenty one days for it to become a habit.