Heart attacks can be extremely scary and debilitating. In fact, every 7 minutes in Canada, someone dies from heart disease or stroke (Statistics Canada, 2011c). Heart disease and stroke are two of the three leading causes of death in Canada. These statistics are based on 2008 data (the latest year available from Statistics Canada).
I am drawing attention to the topic of heart disease because my dad recently suffered his second heart attack. My dad had his first heart attack in 2009 and in less than 5 years he suffered his second attack. My dad and mom are my source of inspiration for writing about health and lifestyle awareness. After witnessing them deal with their medical challenges I knew I had to reach out to my community and raise awareness. I know there are many families out there that have suffered through similar experiences as my own family. Bringing awareness about certain common diseases or health problems will help others make better decisions pertaining to ones health and lifestyle choices.
Within my community, I noticed most of us tend to lead very similar lifestyles and have similar habits. Knowing this, I can’t in good conscience allow other families to go through tragedies all because of misinformation. I want to share some facts that could possibly help save someones life. By knowing some common signs of a heart attack you can save someone from suffering through a debilitating stroke and can prevent them from experiencing severe heart damage.
Here are some basic facts about the heart and how it functions. The heart is a muscle. It works by carrying oxygen and nutrients in the blood. When the blood flows constantly and smoothly through the heart it gets energy and works properly. The misconception with heart disease is that it only has one condition, however, heart disease is actually a group of conditions that affects the function and structure of the heart. Take Coronary Artery Disease for example, it develops when a combination of fatty materials, calcium and scar tissue (also known as plaque) builds up in the arteries. These arteries supply blood to the heart and they are being blocked and clogged not allowing blood to flow smoothly. The plaque basically builds up and narrows the arteries and prevents the heart from getting enough blood.
Many Canadians die from heart attacks yearly because of not receiving medical treatment early enough. Many of the deaths related to heart attacks could be preventable if we all knew the tell tale signs of a heart attack and notice specific symptoms. By learning to recognize these signs you can significantly help someone or even potentially save a life. One of the most common symptoms of a heart attack is chest pain in both men and women. However, some people may not even experience chest pain at all, while others might feel a mild pain or slight discomfort or tightening sensation. Some may feel pain in an entirely different area of the body, while others feel a combination of several symptoms. Listed below are some of the most common signs of a heart attack that you should watch out for.
- Chest discomfort – uncomfortable chest pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain, burning or heaviness
- Sweating – sweating lightly or heavily, moist, feeling cool and hot simultaneously
- Nausea – upset stomach, need to throw up
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body – neck, jaw, shoulders, arms, back
- Light headedness – feeling dizzy or light headed and have difficulty keeping balance
- Shortness of breath – uncomfortable breathing, pressure in chest