In India, more than 45+ million people suffer from coronary artery diseases and soon this number will increase across all geographic regions. A study states that in a year, we are witnessing more than 2 million heart attacks and surprisingly most of them are youngsters. This deadly condition is getting worse and every 33 seconds there is a death reported.
What exactly happens?
A simple way to understand this: Your heart gets blocked! This happens because the arteries that supply the heart with blood become thicker and harder, forming cholesterol and other substances called plaque. This plaque breaks open and a blood clot is formed that blocks the blood flow, causing a “heart attack”! The damage may be prolonged if an artery stays blocked for a longer period of time.
You can experience:
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that can last for more than few minutes or can go away and come back. It feels like a tight band around the chest, bad indigestion, something heavy sitting in your chest. The pain can last longer for more than 20 minutes.
- Pain or discomfort may radiate to one or both arms, your back, neck, jaw or upper abdomen.
- Shortness of breath with or without a chest discomfort. It feels like you have run a marathon, but actually you haven’t made any move.
- Other signs like cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness.
Additionally, a heart attack can occur, when you are resting or asleep, sudden increase in physical activity, when you are active outside in cold weather, severe emotional or physical stress.
Normally, women, diabetic, or elderly patients are likely to have milder or atypical symptoms. Even when the signs are subtle, the consequences can be deadly, especially if no medical help is taken.
What should you do if you suspect a heart attack?
Even if you're not sure it's a heart attack, immediately call for an ambulance or visit the nearest Chest Pain Clinic/ Emergency and let the doctor assess your symptoms. Do not worry about creating a false alarm. After clinical evaluation, ECG is done.
Before there's an emergency, it's a good idea to find out which heart hospitals in your area have 24-hour emergency cardiac care. Also, keep a list of emergency phone numbers next to your phone and with you at all times, just in case. Take these steps NOW.
Many people having a heart attack wait before getting help. Some people feel it would be embarrassing to have a "false alarm." Others are so afraid of having a heart attack that they tell themselves they aren't having one. These feelings are very dangerous - delays can increase the risk of sudden collapse and permanent damage to the heart.
If you or someone close to you shows signs of a heart attack, call 01140554055 and get help right away! You Need to Act Fast - Seconds Save Lives.
What does the Medical team do?
The cardiologist doctor takes a history of your symptoms, and suggests ECG, which is adequate to diagnose a Heart Attack.
You will be hooked up to a heart monitor, so the health care team can look at how your heart is beating. You will receive oxygen so that your heart doesn't have to work as hard. An intravenous line (IV) will be placed into one of your veins. Medicines and fluids pass through this IV. You get medicines to help reduce chest pain. Dangerous abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmia) may be treated with medicine or electric shocks.
What are the “EMERGENCY PROCEDURES”?
Angioplasty is a procedure to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. Angioplasty is the first choice of treatment. It should be done within 90 minutes after you get to the hospital, and usually no later than 12 hours after a heart attack by an experienced team. A stent is a small, metal mesh tube that opens up (expands) inside a coronary artery. A stent is often placed after or during angioplasty. It helps prevent the artery from closing up again.
In hospitals that do not have Cardiac Cath lab, you will be given drugs - clot busters - to break up the clot. It is best if these drugs are given within 3 hours of when you first felt the chest pain. This is called thrombolytic therapy.
What's The Most Likely Time Of Day To Have A Heart Attack?
It is well established that heart attacks are most likely to occur in the mornings and within the first few hours of waking. One study showed that you are three times likely of suffering a heart attack at 9am as compared to 11pm.
Proposed reasons for this include increase surges of stress hormones on waking and also the blood being less thin in the morning, both of which have been demonstrated.
Which Season Has The Most Heart Attacks?
Seasonal variations with increase in heart attack, sudden death, stroke and chest infections have been reported in winter months. Angina is known to be precipitated by cold weather. Cold is associated with increase in blood pressure and oxygen requirement of the heart.
Increase in risk of dying from heart disease occurs within days of fall in temperature - the speed at which the temperature falls, and the amount, by which it deviates, rather than the absolute value, increases the risk. Most of our Vitamin D is synthesized by the skin following exposure to UV radiation. Heart patients have low Vitamin D. Cholesterol and Vitamin D are structurally similar - high levels of cholesterol are seen in those exposed to less sunlight. High exposure to UV radiation in summer may protect against heart disease.
Regular exercise is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, but the benefits reduce within few weeks of cessation of exercise. People tend to reduce exercise in winter months. While regular exercise is beneficial, unaccustomed excessive exertion may trigger cardiac events. Sudden death is more often associated with high level of physical activity in cold temperature.
Simple precautions to take care of yourself during changing weather
- Regular exercise, take your medicines regularly, eat in moderation, protect from infections
- Do not smoke
- Get Sunshine whenever you can
- Adequate indoor heating - avoid extreme variations in temperature
- Wear protective clothing, adequate protection of exposure of cold winds to the face.
- Avoid unaccustomed strenuous exercise, go for walk after sunrise or take an afternoon walk.
ABCs for heart attack
Prevention: Avoid tobacco
Become more active
Choose good nutrition