AUTHOR: Hiland D
With the sudden death of Carrie Fisher from cardiac arrest, we were once again tragically reminded of the risks of heart disease. Healthline reports that 715,000 Americans suffer heart attacks every year and 15% of heart attack sufferers die as a result. Heart disease is the leading cause of death around the globe and causes 1 of every 4 US fatalities.
Heart disease has distinguishable symptoms and causes but despite ongoing public awareness programs, too many men and women who are at risk ignore symptoms until it is too late. The Mayo Clinic reports that men aged 45 and older and women age 55 and over are most likely to suffer heart attacks. Carrie Fisher, whose portrayal of legendary Princess Leia of Star Wars made her part of American and global folklore, was only age 60 at the time of death. What a tragedy!
What is a Heart Attack
Heart attacks take place when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked or disrupted. Built-up fat that blocks coronary arteries is the most common cause. Heart attacks are also known as myocardial infarction. Many fatal heart attacks are sudden but most have distinct warning signs and symptoms. You can decrease your chance of a fatal heart attack by knowing the symptoms and taking action.
If you are in the presence of an individual suffering a heart attack, call 911 immediately. If you or someone nearby knows CPR, commence treatment at once.
Are You at Risk
If you smoke or have diabetes, stress, or high cholesterol and/or if you have a family history of heart disease, you are at greater risk. If you have aged without experiencing these risks, you probably lead a charmed life.
Lack of exercise, obesity and substance abuse can also contribute to the likelihood of heart disease. Periodic physical examinations can help determine heart health. If you are 40 years old or older, you should see a physician regularly, get dietary advice and start a fitness regimen.
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Symptoms of Heart Attack (or Stroke or Cardiac Arrest)
TheAmerican Heart Association advises that anyone suffering the symptoms below should visit an Emergency Room or contact a physician immediately. Do not wait!
- Pressure or tightness, pain or aching sensations in the chest, arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach
- Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness
- Difficulty speaking or weakness in arms
- Loss of responsiveness
Heart attack symptoms vary. When I suffered my first heart attack, my pain was confined to my shoulder. Ironically, when I was told I was having a heart attack, I quickly realized I had had several before but had erroneously attributed the discomfort to indigestion.
Heart attack warning signs can occur “hours, days or weeks in advance.” Will you heed the warning signs, or be uninformed and insist you are invincible as I did?
Heart attacks require treatment and after-care that will most likely result in lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes, including changes in diet, are easier to begin now, before suffering a heart attack. Warning signs should not be ignored.
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