Warning signs of Heart attack (SHAMBULIO LA MOYO in Swahili)


On my previous posts I explained about how to perform CPR and important tips to serve yourself when you've heart attack. The important point here is to understand the warnings signs of heart attack so that you can be able to ask an emergency help when the disease occurs.

Heart attack (Shambulio la moyo in Swahili) is a medical emergency that usually occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow to the heart, as a result tissues of the heart lack blood supply then loses oxygen and dies. The blockage is most often a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances, which form a plaque in the arteries that feed the heart (coronary arteries).

CAUSES
It is caused by coronary artery diseases, the condition where one or more of your coronary arteries become blocked. This blockage is brought by buildup of various substances in coronary artery including fats, cholesterol and other substances.

These buildup materials can rupture and spill cholesterol and other substances into the bloodstream, as a result blood clot occurs at the site of rupture. Later the clot can block the flow of blood through the coronary artery, starving the heart muscle of oxygen and nutrients.

Also it can be caused by Coronary artery spasms, spasms is a sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle, a group of muscles, or a hollow organ. This means that when coronary artery contracts, it shuts down blood flow to part of the heart muscle. The use of tobacco and illicit drugs, such as cocaine, can cause a life-threatening spasm. To learn more about the harmful effects of tobacco including cigarettes smoking CLICKHERE.

RISKS FACTORS OF HEART ATTACK
Apart from the causes, it is important to understand some risks factors of heart attack, if you know well the causes, risks factors and warning signs then you'll be in good position to serve many lives even yourself from heart attack. The following are some risks factors of heart attack;

1. High blood pressure
On prolonged period, high blood pressure can damage arteries that feed your heart. High blood pressure that associated with other conditions including obesity, high cholesterol or diabetes, increases the chance of getting heart attack.

2. High blood cholesterol (Triglyceride levels)
Before any elaboration about the relations of high blood cholesterol and heart attack you should first understand these two terms 'Cholesterol' and 'Triglyceride'

*Cholesterol is a sterol lipid synthesized by the liver and transported in the bloodstream to the membranes of all animal cells; it plays a central role in many biochemical processes and, as a lipoprotein that coats the walls of blood vessels, is associated with cardiovascular disease.

*Triglyceride is a lipid, an ester of glycerol and three fatty acids (the same or different); the major constituent of animal and vegetable fats or a type of blood fat related to your diet.

A high level of cholesterol (Low density lipoprotein) is the one responsible for narrowing arteries, also a high level of triglycerides can increase blood cholesterol as a result you'll be at high risks of getting heart attack.

3. Tobacco
This includes smoking and long-term exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke that comes from the burning end of a cigarette, cigar, or pipe, and the smoke breathed out by the smoker. It contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds of those chemicals are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer.

4. Age
Men age 45 or older and women age 55 or older are more likely to have a heart attack than are younger men and women. Aging can cause changes in the heart and blood vessels. For example, as you get older, your heart can't beat as fast during physical activity or times of stress as it did when you were younger. However, the number of heart beats per minute (heart rate) at rest does not change significantly with normal aging.

Changes that happen with age may increase a person's risk of heart disease. A major cause of heart disease is the buildup of fatty deposits in the walls of arteries over many years.

5. Lack of physical activity
Being inactive contributes to high blood cholesterol levels and obesity. People who exercise regularly have better cardiovascular fitness, including lower high blood pressure.

6. Stress
Stress itself might be a risk factor, or it could be that high levels of stress make other risk factors (such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure) worse. Also if you are under stress, your blood pressure goes up, you may overeat, you may exercise less.

Also stress exposes your body to unhealthy, persistently elevated levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Studies also link stress to changes in the way blood clots, which increases the risk of heart attack.

7. Illicit drug use
Using stimulant drugs, such as cocaine or amphetamines, can trigger a spasm of your coronary arteries that can cause a heart attack. Spasm is a sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle, a group of muscles, or a hollow organ. This means that coronary arteries will contract and shutdown blood supply to a part of the heart muscle and cause heart attack.

8. A history of preeclampsia
This condition causes high blood pressure during pregnancy and increases the lifetime risk of heart disease. Preeclampsia is a potentially dangerous pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure.

It is usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in a woman whose blood pressure had been normal. It can lead to serious, even fatal, complications for both mother and baby.

9. An autoimmune condition
An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body (healthy cells). Autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis more than double the risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attack).

A new study shows that immune cells that arise during autoimmune disease cause cholesterol to become trapped inside blood vessels and increases the risk of heart attack.

10. Obesity
Obesity is associated with high blood cholesterol levels, high triglyceride levels, high blood pressure and diabetes. It is a risk factor for fatal heart attacks even for people who do not have the conditions normally associated with cardiovascular disease, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Losing just 10 percent of your body weight can lower this risk.

11. Diabetes
In long run, high blood glucose from diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. The longer you have diabetes, the higher the chances that you will develop heart disease.

People with diabetes tend to develop heart disease at a younger age than people without diabetes. In adults with diabetes, the most common causes of death are heart disease and stroke. Adults with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke as people without diabetes. Luckily if you manage your diabetes effectively will help to lower your chances of having heart disease or stroke.

12. Metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome, also known as syndrome X or dysmetabolic syndrome, refers to a cluster of metabolic conditions that can lead to heart disease. It's normally occurs when you've obesity, high blood pressure and high blood sugar. Having metabolic syndrome makes you twice more likely to develop heart disease than if you don't have it.

Metabolic syndrome results to insulin resistance, hypertension (high blood pressure), abnormal cholesterol, and an increased risk for clotting. People diagnosed with this syndrome are usually overweight or obese.

*Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it properly. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps the body use glucose, a form of sugar, for energy. If a person has insulin resistance, his or her body is not converting glucose for use by muscles and other tissues.

13. Family history of heart attack
Your family medical history is a key, but complex, risk factor for heart disease, Even if you do everything possible to keep your heart healthy and strong, you still have to confront your genes. Family history can be as strong an indicator of heart disease as high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels.

You've to look at your first-degree relatives; your father, mother, and siblings, Checkout if anyone have a heart attack or stroke, or die from one, if available; at what age did they die? Either at an early age (< 55) for men and < 65 for women [by age 55 for male relatives and by age 65 for female relatives]. If available you'll be at high risk to get the disease.

*Sibling is a person who shares a parent; one's brother or sister.

Even if there are no cases of heart disease with first-degree relatives, you can look back to your grandparents, but often that is not the case, because your grandparents may have been exposed to lifestyle or environmental factors that increased their risk that your parents were not exposed to. For this case it will be considered genetic signs from your grandparents if they suffered from heart attack or stroke at an early age, even if your parents and siblings were spared.

Also family history is more beyond DNA. Your family's shared lifestyle and home environment can raise your risk, too. For instance, growing up in a household of smokers or one that ate a steady diet of fast-food meals can influence blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Also if you were raised in a city or urban neighborhood, you may have been exposed to air pollution, poor water and food quality, and chemicals like carbon monoxide all of which can contribute to heart disease.

WARNING SIGNS OF HEART ATTACK
As I've said before, if you understand well the causes, risk signs and warning signs of heart attack you'll be in good position to serve many lives of your relatives and yourself from heart attack. It's important to note that these signs are normally occurs in combination, for example; discomfort in chest + lightheadedness + nausea etc. Now checkout the following warning signs of heart attack;

1. Pain or discomfort in chest
It's also known as angina, it occurs when your heart muscle doesn't get enough oxygen-rich blood. It may feel like pressure, fullness, squeezing, burning or tightness in your chest. Many people with heart disease say they experience a vague discomfort that isn't necessarily identified as pain.

2. Lightheadedness, nausea or vomiting
Lightheadedness is a common and typically unpleasant sensation of dizziness or a feeling that one may faint. The sensation of lightheadedness can be short-lived, prolonged, or, rarely, recurring. In addition to dizziness, the individual may feel as though his or her head is weightless. The individual may also feel as though the room is "spinning" or moving (vertigo) associated with lightheadedness. Most causes of lightheadedness are not serious and either cures them quickly, or are easily treated.

Nausea is an unpleasant, diffuse sensation of unease and discomfort, often perceived as an urge to vomit. While not painful, it can be a debilitating symptom if prolonged, and has been described as placing discomfort on the chest, upper abdomen, or back of the throat.
Both lightheadedness and nausea or vomiting can be the risks signs of heart attack disease, it's important to consider them.

3. Jaw, neck or back pain
The head, neck and jaw pain experienced during a cardiac event is different than the chronic pain. It can be a heart attack signs if it's associated with others symptoms including shortness of breath, Chest discomfort etc. If it's only jaw, neck or back pain without any other associated signs it could be a normal chronic pain.

4. Discomfort or pain in arm or shoulder
You should not confuse normal arm or shoulder pain with other arm pain associated with heart attack, there resemble but practically are different. Normal arm pain is usually described as pain, discomfort, or stiffness that occurs anywhere from your shoulders down to your fingers in one or both arms. Most often, its caused by an injury or overuse.

But for the case associated with heart attack, pain in your left arm could be related to a heart condition. Discomforts in chest (Angina), which is caused by decreased blood flow to the heart, can cause pain in the arm shoulder. A heart attack can cause pain in one or both arms. A heart attack happens when the oxygen supply to your heart is completely cut off due to a blockage that prevents blood from flowing into the muscle.

NB:
As I've said above signs of heart attack occurs in combination, you cannot use only single signs to assure you've heart attack, you must observe at least two signs (Principle signs) to assure you've the disease, though other heart attack may happen without any noticeable signs. Also you must have at least one principle signs including "Discomfort in chest pain" or "Shortness of breath", these two principle signs together with other associated sings can indicate that you've heart attack, though sometimes chest pain is not always present in people with heart disease. Instead, other symptoms can be the signals that alert you to heart disease.

5. Cold sweat (Sweating day and night)
Sweating more than usual especially if you arent exercising or being active could be an early warning sign of heart problems. Pumping blood through clogged arteries takes more effort from your heart, so your body sweats more to try to keep your body temperature down during the extra exertion. If you experience cold sweats or clammy skin, then you should consult your doctor.

Night sweats are also a common symptom for women experiencing heart troubles. Women may mistake this symptom for an effect of menopause. However, if you wake up and your sheets are soaked or you cannot sleep due to your sweating, this could be a sign of a heart attack, especially in women.

6. Fatigue
Fatigue is an extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness. It can be a less commonly recognized heart attack sign in women. According to the American Heart Association, some women may even think their heart attack symptoms are flu-like symptoms.

It can be caused by many illnesses and by medicines. But a constant, new fatigue also can sometimes signal heart failure (a condition in which the heart fails to pump well) or coronary artery disease.

A heart attack can cause exhaustion due to the extra stress on your heart to try to pump while an area of blood flow is blocked. If you often feel tired or exhausted for no reason, it could be a sign that something is wrong.

7. Shortness of breath
Your breathing and your heart pumping blood effectively are very closely related. Your heart pumps blood so it can circulate to your tissues as well as get oxygen from your lungs. If your heart cant pump blood well (as is the case with a heart attack) you can feel short of breath.

During a heart attack or heart failure, fluid may leak into the lungs, causing shortness of breath. People may feel breathless even at rest. Shortness of breath can be due to other conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) but it can also be a sign of heart attack or heart failure.

Also shortness of breath can sometimes be an accompanying symptom to unusual fatigue in women. For example, some women report they would get unusually short of breath and tired for the activity they were performing. This can be a common sign of heart attack in women.

CONCLUSION
If you understand well the causes, risk factors and warning signs of heart attack, you'll be in good position to serve lives of your family, neighbors and yourself. If you've any unusual signs relating to what I explained above, see your doctor immediately for medical checkup.

If you've any opinions about this article, let me know by leaving your thoughts on the comments section below. Don't miss our future posts, See you next time!.

Posted by: Lusubilo A. Mwaijengo

4 Comments

  1. Hey Mate, it is very well written article, thank you for the valuable and useful information. Keep up the good work! FYI, please check these depression, stress and anxiety related articles:

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