Getting help immediately gives you a better chance of surviving a heart attack. So know the signs and get help right away!
Heart disease is the number-one killer in the United States, of both men and women. More than one million Americans suffer from heart attacks every year, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). But you can reduce your risk by being knowledgeable about heart health.
Not all heart attacks are recognized and treated, according to a recent study at Duke University Medical Center. Hypertension or high blood pressure is the leading cause of coronary artery disease and stroke. Hypertension is called the “silent killer” because about one-third of the people with this condition do not know that they have it. It accounts for 40 to 60 percent of all heart attacks.
Risk factors for silent heart attacks are the same as for regular heart attacks – smoking, diabetes, stress, and family history – and these heart episodes occur more frequently than physicians had previously thought. Individuals who suffered these silent attacks often experienced a symptom they did not attribute to heart trouble, and had another risk factor for heart disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
Common heart attack warning signs
According to the AHA, heart attack warning signs typically begin slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. The AHA considers the following symptoms as warning signs of a heart attack:
* Chest discomfort, such as uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain
* Pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
* Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort
* Cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness
Additional heart attack symptoms include: a weak feeling, sudden dizziness, a pounding heart, shortness of breath, heavy perspiration, a feeling of impending doom, nausea and vomiting. Notably, women and men often experience different heart attack symptoms. Women are more likely to have non-traditional heart attack symptoms like fatigue, indigestion and sleep disturbances. Up to 43 percent of women experience no chest pain prior to or during a heart attack, according to research by the National Institutes of Health.
Heart attack triggers
A heart attack may seem to come from no-where, but this is rarely the case. The timing is determined by heart attack triggers, which are different from symptoms. While a symptom is a physical condition or sign that may indicate the occurrence of a heart attack, a trigger is a situation that can make a heart attack more likely – especially when combined with an existing condition or risk factor.
A trigger may tip the balance when the person has a known or unknown heart attack risk factor but does not, by itself, cause a heart attack. Some common triggers include lack of sleep, overeating, stress, or unusually heavy exercise.
To learn more about your risk level for heart attacks and any lifestyle modifications you can take now to keep your heart healthy, call to make an appointment with Dr. Sarkees or Dr. Adajar at 624-0400, or log onto Eastern New Mexico Medical Center’s Web site at www.enmmc.com for more information.