Becoming more heart healthy has been one of the national campaigns educating everyone from school aged to the elderly, and it is always good to review what to do when a loved one experiences chest pain. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a section of heart muscle becomes blocked and then damaged from lack of oxygen. Often, because heart attacks may feel like a mild discomfort or pain, the symptoms can go unnoticed.
The most common heart attack signs and symptoms are according to Agingcare.com:
- Chest discomfort or pain—uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of the chest that can be mild or strong. This discomfort or pain lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back
- Upper body discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach
- Shortness of breath may occur with or before chest discomfort.
- Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach) and/or vomiting
- Lightheadedness or fainting
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
If you are caregiving for someone who has had a heart attack, have a plan just in case there is an emergency. Keep a card that lists all the symptoms of a heart attack close by, a list of medications and nearby trauma centers. Call 911 right away if your loved one is experiencing any of symptoms. Don’t wait more than a few minutes to call — 5 minutes at the most.
You need to be aware of the warning signs as most heart attacks start slowly and our loved ones may not want to call for assistance, thinking the “indigestion” will soon pass. Getting help as soon as possible is key to recovering from a heart attack.
Should you take an aspirin during a heart attack? The American Heart Association recommends the following:
To understand more about how a heart attack is treated, The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute is an excellent resource.
There is some positive news about heart disease – the number of heart attacks has decreased in the past few years – to be specific 80,000 fewer heart attacks in 2007 than 2002. The reasons for this decrease:
- Improved dietary habits – eating less saturated fats
- Better lifestyle choices
- Increased use of cholesterol and blood pressure medications
- Decreased smoking rates
Coronary heart disease is still the number one killer of Americans so make sure to keep making healthy lifestyle choices!
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