How to Prevent a Heart Attack
For many people, one of the scariest things they can imagine experiencing is a heart attack. For roughly 735,000 Americans each year, this fear becomes a reality. Apparently, in the U.S. a heart attack occurs every 43 seconds. Many of the causes of heart attacks are lifestyle choices and many heart attacks are considered to have been preventable if the victim had made some lifestyle changes. The sooner you start living heart-healthy and taking heart attack prevention seriously, the less of a chance you have of suffering a heart attack.
What is a Heart Attack?
A heart attack is caused by a reduced or completely cut off blood flow of oxygen to the heart muscle. This occurs when the arteries transporting this blood narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and plaque. When some of this buildup breaks off, a blood clot will form around it. The clot will block the blood flow, starving the heart muscle of oxygen. Ultimately, this causes damage or death to part of the heart muscle. This is what we all know as a heart attack.
Heart Attack Symptoms
There are some slight variations in common heart attack symptoms for men and women:
|Constant or intermittent chest pain||Unusual or sudden fatigue|
|Rapid or irregular heartbeat||Anxiety|
|Shortness of breath||Shortness of breath|
|Dizziness or sensation of passing out||Chest pain that radiates down an arm|
|Cold sweat||Upper back or shoulder or jaw pain or all three|
|A feeling like indigestion||A feeling like indigestion|
However, no two heart attacks are the same and one person’s symptoms may differ drastically from another person’s symptoms. If in doubt, you should go to an E.R. as soon as possible.
Heart Attack Prevention
As already mentioned, there are ways to prevent a heart attack. Some very simple lifestyle changes could protect you from suffering a heart attack and heart disease in general. It is estimated that approximately 80% of all heart attacks are preventable. That number is huge and really drives home how important a healthy lifestyle is when it comes to shielding yourself from unnecessary illness.
- One of the best things to do to protect your heart – and your health in general – is to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Heart healthy foods like salmon and nuts contain plenty of good fats which can help reduce cholesterol and stop bad fats from blocking arteries. Wholegrains can also help reduce cholesterol by soaking it up before it enters the bloodstream. The humble potato can also help save your heart. Many people mistakenly think the potato is a bad starch but potatoes are actually full of fiber and can help lower blood pressure, all of which is required for a strong health heart.
- Recommendations for how much exercise we should be getting vary. However, the standard seems to be at least 30 minutes of moderate activity at least five times a week. Physical activity helps the heart pump more blood through the body with little effort. This keeps the heart healthy and reduces the risk of arteries getting clogged.
- The evils of tobacco cannot be stressed enough. Smoking cigarettes reduces the amount of oxygen in blood and increases the risk of developing blood clots. Heart attacks caused by tobacco are the most preventable heart attacks. The sooner you quit, the more your chances of having a heart attack drops.
- It may be one of the harder aspects of your life to change but reducing stress levels is proven to reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack. While it’s not certain if stress alone causes heart attacks or if it’s because high stress levels create other heart attack risk factors such as high blood pressure, reducing stress has positive effects on your heart health. Managing how you deal with stress or removing stressful situations from your life can greatly improve your chances of avoiding a heart attack.
- Alcohol and recreational drug use are also linked to heart attacks. Alcohol can raise levels of bad fats in your blood as well as cause high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats. Most illegal drugs, including cocaine, heroin and amphetamines, can cause heart disturbances. Cocaine use in particular is a serious risk factor for heart attacks. All these drugs stiffen the arteries and trigger an increase in heartbeat rates and blood pressure. Drinking in moderation and not using any recreational drugs will lessen your chances of a heart attack.
These are just a few heart attack prevention tips. If you have a family history of heart disease, it is best to get regular checkups and make sure you know your blood pressure as well as your blood sugar and lipids levels to ensure you always stay at your healthiest.
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