Heart ailments are acquiring epidemic proportions, accounting for 2.1 million deaths yearly. In men aged between 35 and 44, it’s the biggest killer after accidents. A combination of a sedentary lifestyle, ignorance, poverty, poor diet, smoking, ageing, stress, high blood pressure, diabetes and unavailability of healthcare solutions drives heart-related mortality and morbidity. Worst still, we all are prone to it, no matter what the age, gender, location, occupation or ethnicity.
The inability of the damaged or blocked coronary arteries to carry oxygen supply is a common cause of a heart attack. They call this condition Coronary Artery Disease. Other reasons include rupturing of plaque in the heart, leading to the release of cholesterol into the bloodstream. The cholesterol-laden blood tends to clot, which denies the heart the required oxygen supply. A rare few heart attacks are caused by blood vessel spasm, a condition where arteries get narrow.
Heart attacks are life-threatening but many people live to tell the tale. Usually, heart attacks are preceded by certain signs that alert you to the threat looming. Surviving a heart attack is about identifying the warning signals and acting quickly. Here’s what to watch out for and how to act.
What to watch out for?
The nature and severity of symptoms vary from person to person, while some might not even experience any symptoms at all. The warning signs can surface a few hours or days in advance.
- Angina: Angina is a discomfort in the chest, triggered by a restricted flow of oxygenated blood to the heart. It’s characterized by recurrent pain and heaviness in the chest. The discomfort lasts for a couple of minutes, getting intense with activity and subsiding with rest. The pain range from mild to severe, depending on the intensity of the heart attack.
- Pain and discomfort in the upper body: Arms, jaws, neck, stomach, and other upper body parts might experience light to intense pain or common discomfort.
- Unusual sensations: Some strange sensations, such as queasiness, cold sweat, vomiting, and faintness overpower you. These symptoms are more common among women.
- Dyspnea: You might find it hard to breathe (Dyspnea) even when not involved in any physical activity at all. It may or may not be accompanied by chest discomfort.
How to act?
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s time to see your cardiologist in Mumbai. Delaying medical treatment could lead to complications. If the heart attack strikes suddenly, do as follows:
- Call the ambulance:
Have someone arrange an ambulance for you or drive you to the hospital for rapid care. Ambulances are equipped with a defibrillator and trained EMS workers, making them a safer bet. The defibrillator is a device used to pass electric shock to the heart to keep it beating normally.
- Unlock the front door:
Ensure unlocking the front door to allow EMS workers an easy entry. Also, be seated near the door. The workers shouldn’t be wasting time to locate you. Every minute counts. Also, as heart attacks often lead to unconsciousness, you need to act quickly at the onset of the heart attack.
- Take aspirin:
Aspirin could be a lifesaver in a heart attack situation. Aspirin decreases the blood’s tendency to clot. With the size and number of clots restricted, the chances of oxygen reaching the heart are high. The dosage should not exceed 325 mg or else, the risk of aspirin poisoning runs deep.
What’s the fastest way to prevent heart attacks?
Well, there’s none. When a heart attack strikes, you need immediate medical care to avoid death and disability. Some ‘fast’ heart attack treatments are circulating on the internet but none is as effective. Rather, they often prove counterproductive, delaying your access to the much-needed emergency healthcare solutions. Here’re two such “fast” ways doing rounds on the internet.
- Cough CPR:
It’s said that when you breathe deeply and then cough deeply, the blood pressure is raised temporarily. With increased pressure, the blood can find its way to the brain. Also, the heartbeat is restored to normal with a deep cough. However, the strategy is unapproved by the medical community and doesn’t work for an unconscious person because he/she cannot cough.
- Water and cayenne pepper:
Water with cayenne pepper is touted as a remedy for a heart attack. Per a claim, cayenne pepper can raise the heart rate, ensuring blood constant supply across the body. Some even claim that cayenne pepper impedes bleeding. As it turns out to be, these are unfounded claims. There’s no evidence suggesting the effectiveness of cayenne pepper in a heart attack situation.
How to prevent heart attacks over a period?
Per the INNERHEART study, correctible and preventable factors account for a staggering 90% of heart attacks. That underlines the power of prevention. It all boils down to limiting the risk factors with a few long-term healthy living strategies. Let’s explore them all, one at a time.
1. Get yourself screened:
High blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar are the prime risk factors for heart ailments. It makes sense to get screened for these conditions regularly. Only when you know the numbers, the desired action can be taken to keep them in check. Screening is imperative for those with a family history of high blood pressure and diabetes.
Cardiac Screening is very expensive. For this situation, either you can use your health insurance for cardiac screening or you can also pay your medical bills on EMI through Health Card. There are many companies, who offer Health cards, Bajaj Finserv is one of them, which offers Bajaj Finserv Health Card, with EMI facilities to reduce the burden of the medical expenses.
2. Eat healthy:
Saturated fats, sodium-dense foods, refined carbohydrates, processed meat, and added sugars are a hazard for heart health. Limit their intake, if you can’t avoid them outright. Include green veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds, dairy, and whole grains in your diet for a healthier heart.
3. Quit smoking:
Smoking elevates your blood pressure, exposing you to cardiac arrest and strokes. All forms of smoking, traditional and vaping are equally harmful. Quitting smoking is a challenge but can be achieved through some proven methods. Professional help can be sought to this end.
4. Hit the gym:
Exercise helps flush out toxins, betters blood circulation, strengthens the heart, restricts cholesterol levels, blood pressure and weight gain. All this translates to a healthier heart. Two hours of moderate workout are sufficient for an adult. Aerobics, yoga, badminton, strolls, morning walks and jogging can be included in your fitness regimen.
5. Limit alcohol:
Any Cardiologist in Mumbai would tell you that alcohol is linked to high blood pressure. Plus, it adds additional calories. In either case, you run a higher risk of a heart attack. It’s advisable to drink in moderation, if at all.