Upbeat - Heart Support In West Suffolk

Charity No 1087415
Upbeat Is Affiliated To The British Heart Foundation and Arrhythmia Alliance The Heart Rhythm Charity.

What is a heart attack?

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Most heart attacks are a result of coronary heart disease – the narrowing of the coronary arteries due to a gradual build-up of fatty material within their walls. This fatty material is called atheroma.

If the atheroma becomes unstable, a piece may break off and lead to a blood clot forming.

This clot can then block the coronary artery and the heart muscle is starved of blood and oxygen and could become permanently damaged. This is a heart attack and is sometimes known as acute coronary syndrome, myocardial infarction or coronary thrombosis.

During a heart attack, life-threatening heart rhythms may develop, which makes it a medical emergency.

If you think that you or anyone else is having a heart attack, you should call 999 immediately.

What is cardiac arrest?

Cardiac arrest happens when the heart stops pumping blood around the body because of a disturbance in the normal heart rhythm.

One of the causes of cardiac arrest is a heart attack. Other causes could include such things as electrocution, bleeding, choking or a drugs overdose.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of a heart attack vary from one person to another. They can range from a severe pain in the centre of the chest, to having mild chest discomfort that makes you feel generally unwell. Women may experience different symptoms to men.

The common symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • central chest pain
  • the pain can spread to the arms, neck or jaw
  • some people can feel feel sick or sweaty as well as having central chest pain
  • some people can feel short of breath as well as having central chest pain.

The less common symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • a dull pain, ache or 'heavy' feeling in the chest
  • a mild discomfort in the chest that makes you feel generally unwell
  • the pain in the chest can spread to the back or stomach
  • some people say that the chest pain feels like a bad episode of indigestion
  • some people can feel a bit light-headed or dizzy as well as having chest pain.

How is a heart attack diagnosed?

If you are having or you suspect someone close to you is having a heart attack, call an ambulance.

When they arrive, the ambulance staff will assess your condition and start any treatment necessary before taking you to hospital. When you arrive, you will have a rapid assessment that includes:

  • an assessment of your symptoms and medical history
  • a physical examination including monitoring your heart rate and blood pressure
  • an electrocardiogram (ECG) to help diagnose your condition
  • blood tests to help check for any damage to the heart muscle

While you are in hospital, other tests may be carried out to assess your heart and decide the best form of ongoing treatment.

What treatment could I expect to receive?

You could be given pain relief, oxygen and aspirin and a combination of medication, which you should keep taking after you go home.

Other treatment you are likely to have depends on the results of your tests and overall assessment of your condition. The most common types of treatment that are given to people with a heart attack are:

  • Thrombolysis: a treatment that helps dissolve the clot that is blocking the artery and helps to restore the blood supply to the heart. It involves injecting a drug in to the blood stream. Thrombolysis is sometimes called a clot buster.
  • Coronary angioplasty: a treatment to widen the artery.

Some people may also be advised that they need a heart bypass operation.

What about my recovery?

A heart attack can be a frightening experience and it’s normal to worry about your recovery. Many people make a full recovery and within a few months are able to return to their normal activities.

Some people may find that they may not be able to do as much as they did before, but attending a cardiac rehabilitation course will increase your chances of getting back to normal as quickly as possible.

Can I prevent coronary heart disease and heart attack?

Yes - even if you’ve had a heart attack there are several things that you can do to reduce the risk of future heart problems.

These include:

  • stopping smoking
  • controlling high blood pressure
  • reducing blood cholesterol levels
  • keeping physically active
  • achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
  • if you have diabetes, controlling your blood glucose as much as possible.

Source - British Heart Foundation

Upbeat Heart Support Group - heart attack
Copyright - upbeatheartsupport.org.uk
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