Understanding what causes a heart attack and which signs and symptoms to look out for is very important.
Unfortunately, there are a number health concerns we face in life without warning – heart attacks being one of the most concerning. And they're more common than you might think – according to The Cholesterol Charity, reported that a heart attack happens to someone living in the UK nearly every seven minutes.
According to the NHS, a heart attack occurs when the flow of blood supply is suddenly interrupted, causing the heart to experience moderate to severe damage. Without immediate treatment, the muscles in the heart could experience irreversible damage and could even lead to cardiac arrest.
Causes of a heart attack
A heart attack is most commonly associated with coronary heart disease, which is actually the leading cause of the condition. When you have CHD, your arteries fill with deposits of cholesterol. And when a heart attack occurs, it's because one of those deposits causes a blood clot that disrupts the steady flow of blood to the heart.
There are a number of risk factors that can cause you to have CHD but can't be controlled, such as age, gender, ethnicity and family history. However, there are some lifestyle risk factors that you can control, including high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, diet choices, weight maintenance, smoking habits and alcohol consumption.
"Maintain your weight and keep your blood and cholesterol levels healthy.
By eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet and exercising more often, you can maintain your weight and keep your blood pressure and cholesterol at healthy levels.
Smoking puts a strain on the heart and your risk of developing heart disease is increased by 24 percent if you are a smoker.
Consuming too much alcohol can raise your blood and cholesterol levels, which can lead to CHD.
Symptoms of a heart attack
If the worst should happen, how can you tell that you're having a heart attack? Signs are different for everyone, but here are a few of the most common symptoms as listed by the British Heart Foundation:
- Chest pain – If you feel sudden tightness, heaviness or a burning sensation.
- Other pain – Pain might occur in the arms, jaw, neck, back or stomach. The pain varies from person to person between feeling uncomfortable to extremely severe.
- Excess sweating
- Feeling nauseous
- Feeling light-headed
- Feeling short of breath
If you've shown one or more of the common symptoms and believe you're having a heart attack, the first thing you need to do is call 999 for an ambulance. Then, sit down, relax and wait for the paramedics to reach you. Getting up and moving around will only put more strain on your heart, so it's best to wait for help before making any moves.