Millions of people are diagnosed with a heart attack every year in the United States. Many people lose their life instantly as a result of heart attack. A heart attack happens when the flow of oxygen to the heart is blocked and the heart muscle is deprived of blood flow. Blood carries vital oxygen to the heart and without blood, the heart muscle begins to die. An extensive blockage in a blood vessel can cause a heart attack. Many Americans take their health for granted and ignore preventive measures and appropriate lifestyle until things get out of hand.
The heart is active 24-hours a day, pumping oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the body. Blood is supplied to the heart through its coronary arteries. If a blood clot suddenly blocks a coronary artery, it cuts off most or all blood supply to the heart, and a heart attack results. If blood flow isn’t restored quickly, the section of heart muscle begins to die. The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart.
According to the American Heart Association, every year in the United States roughly 785,000 people will have their first heart attack. And approximately 470,000 who have had a heart attack before will have another one. Heart attacks are a leading killer of both men and women in the United States. Each year, more than one million people in the U.S. have a heart attack and about half of them die. Half of those who die do so within one hour of the start of symptoms and before reaching the hospital.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the primary federal agency that funds heart research, says there has been a decline in heart attacks because of better control of cholesterol and blood pressure, reduced smoking rates, improved medical treatments — and faster care of people in the throes of a heart attack.
The following symptoms should not be overlooked since this could lead to serious consequences:
- Discomfort, pressure, heaviness, or pain in the chest, arm, or below the breastbone
- Discomfort radiating to the back, jaw, throat, or arm
- Fullness, indigestion, or choking feeling (may feel like heartburn)
- Sweating, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness
- Extreme weakness, anxiety, or shortness of breath
- Rapid or irregular heartbeats
The good news is that excellent treatments are available for heart attacks. These treatments can save lives and prevent disabilities. Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Emergency personnel in the ambulance can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room. They carry drugs and equipment that can help your medical condition, including:
- aspirin to prevent further blood clotting
- heart medications, such as nitroglycerin
- pain relief treatments
- defibrillators that can restart the heart if it stops beating.
If blood flow in the blocked artery can be restored quickly, permanent heart damage may be prevented.
What do you think is some lifestyle changes you can make to prevent heart attack?
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