HOLDING fat around your middle, smoking for many years, having high blood pressure – all things that increase your rise of a heart attack.We’re warned all the time about them, we know it’s imperative to call the emergency services if you think you’re suffering from one – but we don’t really know the details of having a heart attack. One doctor has revealed how it feels to have a heart attack – and how many people actually die from the condition. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is common and causes approximately one in five deaths in the UK each year.
Dr Sarah Glynne – who found fame on Channel 5’s new show GPs: Behind Closed Doors – talks us through every detail of the fatal coronary event.
What is a heart attack?
A heart attack (myocardial infarction) occurs when there is a sudden blockage, usually caused by a blood clot, in one of the coronary arteries that supplies the heart muscle with oxygen. The affected muscle infarcts or dies and is replaced by scar tissue.
The extent of the damage depends on the size of the area affected; if a small branch artery is blocked then only a small area of heart muscle dies. However, if a main artery is blocked, then a large area of muscle dies.
The scar tissue does not work as well as the normal heart muscle and so the prognosis is worse after a large heart attack.A heart attack may occur in people with angina (intermittent short-lived chest pain, usually brought on by exertion, caused by a narrowing in one or more of the arteries that supply the heart muscle), or it may occur out of the blue.
Someone having a heart attack usually experiences severe, persistent (>15 minutes), central or left sided chest pain that may spread to the jaw or the left arm. They may complain of nausea or palpitations, and they may appear pale and/or sweaty and have difficulty breathing.
Occasionally a heart attack may feel like indigestion or heartburn. Some patients, especially those with diabetes, may have only mild symptoms or no pain at all.
What brings on a heart attack?
A heart attack is more likely if you are older (over the age of 50), male, and British Asian. Men and women who live in Scotland are six times more likely to die prematurely from a heart attack than people who live in the South West of England. A positive family history of premature CHD (fathers/ brothers under the age of 55 or mothers/ sisters under the age of 65) increases risk.
Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, physical inactivity, a Western diet and obesity all increase the risk of CHD. The same lifestyle factors increase the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, all of which independently increase risk of CHD.Under the age of 50, men are three times more likely to have a heart attack than women. However, after the menopause, women are equally at risk of a heart attack; cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke) is the leading cause of death in women in the UK; in men it is second to cancer.
Are they only for people over 50?
The risk of having a heart attack increases with age and most occur in people over the age of 50.
What can you do to reduce your chances of having a heart attack?
To reduce the risk of a heart attack you should maintain a healthy weight, quit smoking, limit your alcohol intake (up to 14 units per week for a woman; 21 for a man), and eat a high-fibre, low-fat diet. The British Dietetic Association (BDA) has some excellent food fact sheets that can help patients who are unsure how to modify their diet.
Exercising for thirty minutes at least five times a week is of proven benefit.
Lifestyle advice for patients with high cholesterol/ blood pressure or diabetes is exactly the same. Adherence to prescribed medications will also help to lower the risk of a heart attack. Patients should seek advice from their GP or practice nurse.What kind of treatment does someone who’s had a heart attack receive?
50% of deaths occur within an hour of having a heart attack, usually before the patient has got to hospital.
Early recognition and treatment are key; the part of the heart muscle that has been deprived of oxygen does not die immediately. If blood flow can be restored quickly, damage to the affected heart muscle can be minimized or prevented.
If you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack, dial 999.
Remain seated and chew an aspirin tablet (300mg), if you have one.
In hospital, patients undergo an emergency surgical procedure (percutaneous coronary intervention, PCI) or are given clot-busting medicine. PCI involves feeding a balloon up to the affected coronary artery, usually via an artery in the groin. The balloon is blown up at the site of the narrowing to open up the artery and restore blood flow.
A stent may be introduced to keep the artery open. The type of treatment offered is dependent on how long it has been since symptom onset.http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/618897/Heart-attack-death-doctor-symptoms