Heart attacks are the number one cause of death worldwide with cancer being the second. In fact, more people die annually from cardiovascular diseases than from any other cause! To help yourself and your loved ones, learn what a heart attack is, what causes it and what are the early signs and symptoms.
What is a heart attack?
A heart attack or a myocardial infarction occurs when the supply of blood (oxygen-rich blood cells) to the heart gets suddenly blocked. If this is not resolved quickly, a part of the heart gets damaged and begins to die.
Therefore, when a heart attack happens, it is imperative to react immediately.
What causes a heart attack?
A heart attack usually occurs as a result of a heart disease, or to be more precise – coronary heart disease (CHD). This is a condition in which coronary arteries get clogged up with deposits of cholesterol – plaques. By the way, when these plaques build up in the arteries, the person has atherosclerosis. But when an area of plaque bursts inside an artery, a blood clot forms that can cause a heart attack.
Besides CHD, another cause of a heart attack can be a severe spasm of a coronary artery.
Also, these factors play a role:
- High cholesterol levels,
- High blood pressure,
- Unhealthy diet,
Early signs and symptoms
Many people are simply not sure whether or not they or their loved ones are having a heart attack. However, it is of crucial importance to recognize the signs early on. Here are the most common ones, both in men and women:
Chest pain and discomfort
A pain or discomfort can be felt in the center or left side of the chest. It can be mild or severe, feel like pressure or squeezing, or even like a heartburn.
Shortness of breath
Being unable to breathe deeply is another symptom of a heart attack. A person may be panting or breathing in a shallow and interrupted way.
Lightheadedness or dizziness
Besides chest discomfort, unexplained lightheadedness or dizziness can be felt.
Upper body pain
If a person is feeling a chest pain, it may spread to other parts of their upper body, including the shoulders, neck, jaw and head.
Feeling very tired for no particular reason, sometimes even for a few days, can be a sign of a heart attack. This is especially true if a person is a female.