We have all heard about heart attacks but do you know exactly what it is? Many of us do not know & hopefully will never need that information. However, for those of us who are affected by this malady, it is important to understand the risks. After all, 2/3 of deaths in the USA are due to a heart attack or a stroke.
A mild heart attack is often called a silent heart attack. The person experiencing this type of heart attack may not even realize that they are having a one. The same risk factors cause all heart attacks.
A mild heart attack can leave the same scarring and damage to your heart as any heart attack that you may undergo. Combining the scarring damage with the fact that you may not seek immediate care, may raise your risk of a second and potentially more harmful heart attack. By not seeking treatment your risk of dying from coronary artery disease increases three times over those that do seek treatment. This “mild” heart attack is simply a signal that there are underlying problems to your health.
Definition of Heart Attack
A heart attack is a myocardial infarction or “a sudden and sometimes fatal occurrence of coronary thrombosis, typically resulting in the death of part of a heart muscle.”
A coronary thrombosis is “a blockage of the flow of blood to the heart, caused by a blood clot in a coronary artery.”
A coronary artery is “an artery supplying blood to the heart.”
So there you have it. A heart attack is a sudden and sometimes fatal occurrence of a blockage of flow to the heart, caused by a blockage of an artery that supplies blood to the heart.
It sounds so benign and simple. However, that is only if you or your loved one has never experienced a heart attack or even a mild heart attack.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack
The symptoms of a heart attack are varied and often different for different people. Many think that massive pain in the chest area is the major symptom of a heart attack. It is dramatic and for the TV cameras, but it is not the only or major symptom that precludes a heart attack.
One can have much less painful symptoms and still be having a heart attack. You may be in the throes of a heart attack and not even recognize that is the problem.
The best place to be is the Emergency Department of a hospital, being attended by emergency room personnel. They will start an IV for just in case. Your heart rate, oxygen level, and blood pressure will be monitored. If indeed you are having a heart attack or a mild heart attack, by being in the ED, you are in a position to increase your odds of being a survivor.
- Chest pain or discomfort.
- Upper body discomfort.
- Shortness of breath.
- Breaking out in a cold sweat.
- Feeling unusually tired for no reason.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Light-headedness or sudden dizziness.
Most chest pain involves quite a bit of pain in the center or the left side of the chest. It may be a tightening in the chest area and may be constant or may go away and then come back. It often may feel like heartburn or indigestion.
This chest pain may include pain in different areas of your body including in one or both arms, your back, shoulders, neck, jaw, or even the upper part of your stomach above your belly button.
Shortness of breath may be your only symptom, or it may occur along with other pains. It is irrelevant as to whether you are performing any physical activity or if you are resting.
To sum it up, you may or may not realize that your pains are associated with a heart attack. You may feel foolish going to the emergency room and then find out it was only indigestion. However, it is a small price to pay just in case it is a heart attack.