It is important to recognize the following symptoms as signals of a heart attack:
Persistant pain or discomfort in the chest: This constant pain can range from a mild discomfort to a very painful crushing sensation in the chest. Common descriptions of this pain include "pressure," "heaviness," "squeezing," "tightness," or "aching " in the chest. The pain is usually located in the center of the chest, and can spread to the shoulder, arm, neck, jaw, or back. Seek immediate medical care when the pain is severe, does not stop after 10 minutes, or is still felt during rest.
Difficulty breathing: This may accompany chest pains along with pale or bluish skin, heavy sweating.
Changes in pulse rate: The pulse rate may be irregular, or may be faster or slower than the victim's normal pulse rate.
These symptoms generally indicate something other than a heart problem: A brief, stabbing pain; pain that gets worse with bending or breathing deeply.
If a victim experiences any symptoms of a heart attack, call EMS!
Conscious victim: Find out from the victim if he/she has a history of heart disease, or if he/she is on any meadication for a heart condition. Make sure to call professional medical care as soon as possible. Keep the victim calm by remaining calm yourself. Be alert of any changes in the victim's condition, and be prepared to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
Smoking cigarettes, besides the obvious detrimental effects on the lungs, has been found to increase the risk of having a heart attack by two to four times. The earlier in life a smoker begins, the greater his/her risk of heart attack. Quitting smoking rapidly reduces these risks; after a certain point, an ex-smoker reaches the same level of risk as a non-smoker! If you are a non-smoker, still be sure to avoid exposure to second-hand smoke; it is dangerous as well.
It is now well known that consuming large amounts of food rich in artery-clogging saturated fats and cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease. This is because the excess cholesterol and other fatty deposits are transported in the blood stream and get stuck to blood vessel walls, making them narrower, and in some cases, even blocking them and stopping blood flow. It is not necessary to eliminate all fat from your diet; rather, moderation is the key. Think subsitution! Skim milk instead of whole, nonfat ice cream instead of premium, a juicy peach instead of a plastic-wrapped Twinkie. Consult your doctor for help in planning a healthy, low-fat regimen.
A well known fact: Muscles need exercise to stay strong. Another well-known fact: The heart is a muscle. A fact that tends to be overlooked: The heart, as a muscle, needs exercise. To exercise your heart, you must exercise your body. A recommended amount of exercise is 20 to 30 minutes at least three times a week, maintaining your target heart rate for at least 15 minutes. To find your target heart rate, subtract your age from 220, and multiply the answer by 0.65. If you feel pain while exercising, stop! You are probably doing something wrong. Always remember to warm up before and cool down after exercise. If you are concerned about time, try walking to the store instead of driving, or hopping on the stationalry bike while watching t.v. or even reading. If you have any concerns or health problems that may complicate an exercise regimen, consult your friendly physician.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a major factor is causing heart damage. If you are aware of a family history or personal problem with high blood pressure, consult your doctor for treatment to regulate.
Being overweight to the point of obesity (weighing 20% more than your desired body weight), or having a too-high body fat content is another personal characteristic that may lead to heart problems.
Oh, by the way, what is a heart attack?
A normal heart beats evenly and easily. Damage to the heart can cause it to beat irregularly, which may prevent blood from flowing properly. When the heart malfunctions, this can disrupt or even stop normal breathing. If the heart attack causes the heart to stop beating, this is known as cardiac arrest.
The American Heart Association is a great site to visit for more information on the heart and keeping healthy!