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Understanding the signs of a heart attack can save a life
A heart attack, or myocardial infarction (MI), occurs when the flow of blood to the heart muscle is blocked and the heart cannot get enough oxygen.
Over time, fatty deposits called plaque can build up on the wall of blood vessels, restricting the flow of blood. Doctors refer to this process as atherosclerosis. Sometimes, a blood clot catches on the plaque that already partially blocks the blood vessel and causes a full blockage. If the oxygen supply is reduced in the blocked artery for a prolonged period of time, the resultant heart attack can cause irreversible damage and scarring to the heart.
It is important to be aware of early warning signs. Some people notice changes in their body for up to a month before having a heart attack. You may experience discomfort in your chest, which is frequently mistaken for heartburn. Discomfort caused by a blockage is called angina. The pain can radiate to the shoulders, back, arms and jaw. Because the blood cannot reach the heart and other regions of the body as easily, you may feel tired, weak and short of breath.
Symptoms are usually brought on by physical exertion, stress or intense emotions. Most heart attacks involve an uncomfortable sensation in the center of the chest: pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Some people describe feeling like there is an elephant on their chest. Other symptoms include breaking out in a cold sweat and other fever-like symptoms.
Heart attack can present differently in woman. Rather than chest pain, some women become nauseous, lightheaded or faint, and describe feelings of anxiety or doom.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, follow the below instructions:
Heart attacks are a leading cause of death globally, but recognizing and quickly getting treatment can improve the chances of a full recovery. If you are worried that you or someone else is experiencing a heart attack, contact your local emergency services as soon as possible.
Rates are high, but the risk can be reduced with lifestyle changes.Learn More