“One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease.”
Cardiovascular diseases are a leading cause of death worldwide. Life-threatening medical complications like stroke, cardiac arrest, and heart attack are becoming more common nowadays due to the presence of a sedentary lifestyle.
The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention estimates that around 805,000 people living in the United States suffer from heart attacks every year.
Table of Contents
- What is a Heart Attack?
- What Are The Symptoms of a Heart Attack?
- What Are the Risk Factors of a Heart Attack?
What Is a Heart Attack?
A heart attack (myocardial fibrillation) is medically defined as a state of medical emergency that occurs when one or more of the coronary artery that supplies blood to the heart gets blocked.
This mainly occurs due to the buildup of fatty deposits like cholesterol, fat, and other waste products in the arteries leading to plaque formation.
Such a process results in narrowed and thick arteries due to which blood supply in the body gets restricted.
Coronary artery disease is the main reason behind the occurrence of a heart attack.
A heart attack can prove to be fatal and life-threatening; within minutes of its occurrence, heart muscle cells begin to die. If the right treatment is not received in time, one can lose his or her life.
It is of crucial importance to call for immediate medical help if one sees a person suffering from a heart attack.
What Are the Symptoms of a Heart Attack?
The symptoms of heart attack can be different from person to person and vary significantly. However, men are twice more likely than women to have heart attacks. Some of the most common symptoms of a heart attack are as follows.
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Mild or severe chest pain
- Heart palpitations
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, arm or back
- Severe weakness and fatigue
- Sweating and heartburn
- Feeling highly anxious or tensed
Experiencing such symptoms is a clinical state of emergency, one should immediately be rushed to the hospital. Is it estimated that 80% of premature heart attacks and strokes are preventable, says the World Health Organization.
If one decides to eat a healthy nutritional diet, do regular physical exercise and not consume tobacco products, then the risk of getting a heart attack can drop to a significant extent.
What Are the Risk Factors of a Heart Attack?
A heart attack takes place when the flow of oxygenated rich blood in one or more of the coronary arteries gets blocked as a direct deposition of plaque.
There are certain heart attack risk factors that make a person more likely to get a heart attack. Though the majority of the heart attack risk factors are controllable, a few can prove to be off-limits.
The high risk of getting a heart attack is bound to increase as one grows older. If there is a family history of heart disease, then it is bound to occur.
As a person grows older in age the risk of various diseases increases. People who are above the age of 40-50 years are at a high risk of experiencing a heart attack.
With the advancement in age, blood vessels become stiff and lose elasticity, and one becomes prone to get cardiovascular diseases. Age is one of those heart attack risk factors that are not entirely in one’s control.
However, one can live an active and healthy lifestyle and reduce some amount of risk that increases with age.
There are numerous studies that suggest that heart diseases can occur due to genetic influences as well. If one family member gets diagnosed with heart disease and suffers a heart attack, the chances are that the disease can be inherited by the future generation.
Having high blood pressure is one of the most significant heart attack risk factors. The increased pressure of blood against the arterial walls can make the arteries thick and narrow, due to which less oxygenated blood is supplied throughout the body. High blood pressure damages and blocks the arteries, which can further prevent blood flow to the heart muscle and trigger a heart attack.
A person who is living with a chronic illness like diabetes is more likely to develop heart diseases that can result in heart attacks. Increased blood sugar levels in the body over time can damage blood vessels and nerves that control the heart and increase the risk of getting a heart attack.
High cholesterol in the body leads to the formation of plaques in the arterial walls, due to which it gets difficult to circulate enough blood to flow through the arteries.
Plaques are an accumulation of fat, cholesterol, and other waste products in the arteries. They make the blood vessels narrower and thick. A heart attack arises when a plaque ruptures and forms a clot in the bloodstream.
People who are overweight or obese require more blood to supply oxygenated blood and other nutrients throughout the body, due to which the blood pressure increases.
High blood pressure is one of the most significant heart attack risk factors that shouldn’t be ignored. Obesity has also been interlinked with an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancers.
Smoking has been linked with damage to the heart and blood vessels. Harmful chemicals that are present in cigarettes and other tobacco products make the blood thick and form clots inside veins and arteries, due to which the risk of getting a heart attack magnifies.
Being exposed to secondhand smoke also puts an individual at risk of getting asthma attacks, respiratory or ear infections, and heart diseases.
People who do not exercise on a regular basis and live a sedentary lifestyle are more prone to develop heart diseases and suffer a heart attack. Exercising helps manage the blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels in the body. All of which are major heart attack risk factors.
Also Read: How to Avoid a Sudden Cardiac Death?
A heart attack can be prevented if one adopts healthy ways of living. Though it is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, if one lives an active lifestyle, eats healthy and nutritional food, and keeps the blood pressure and sugar levels under check, then heart attacks can be prevented.
A heart attack is a deadly medical emergency that needs to be treated right away if one wants to survive. Call for an immediate medical emergency, if you see someone suffering from a heart attack.