Heart attacks most often occur as a result of coronary heart disease (CHD), also called coronary artery disease. CHD is a condition in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart.
When plaque builds up in the arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis. The buildup of plaque occurs over many years.
Eventually, an area of plaque can rupture (break open) inside of an artery. This causes a blood clot to form on the plaque’s surface. If the clot becomes large enough, it can mostly or completely block blood flow through a coronary artery.
If the blockage isn’t treated quickly, the portion of heart muscle fed by the artery begins to die. Healthy heart tissue is replaced with scar tissue. This heart damage may not be obvious, or it may cause severe or long-lasting problems.
A less common cause of heart attack is a severe spasm (tightening) of a coronary artery. The spasm cuts off blood flow through the artery. Spasms can occur in coronary arteries that aren’t affected by atherosclerosis.
Heart attacks can be associated with or lead to severe health problems, such as heart failureand life-threatening arrhythmias. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Arrhythmias are irregular heartbeats. Ventricular fibrillation is a life-threatening arrhythmia that can cause death if not treated right away.
What to do if your heart hurts? It is good if it happens at home or at public place, with other people around and they can help. But, unfortunately, circumstances are often unfavorable. How to help yourself if none is nearby, and any medications or phone are just not available?
Alas, today even young people of 25-30 age group are under the risk of heart attack, especially in big cities: life is full of stress, plus smoking, alcohol, all these factors worsen heart state. Let’s assume that the conflict situation happen with you at work. Then you drive a car and suddenly feel the chest pain. To the nearest hospital it is 5km, and it is unlikely to reach over there in such state … It is better to stop immediately: accidents happen often because of heart attack with a driver.
Let’s consider another case. You are walking in the forest or in the village. None is nearby, and surely, any medications are available. However, even if you do not see anyone, call someone, probably somebody nevertheless will hear you.
Let’s assume that you are alone at home. You will not be able to leave your apartment and to call your neighbor if you fail to reach drugs. Neighbors hardly will hear you even if you shout through a window. Even, having called emergency you will have to wait it at least twenty minutes, and in the city it may take about one hour. But anyway you are recommended to call emergency. At heart attack an individual quickly weakens because of heart-work disorders. There are only 10 seconds before fainting. In these situations an urgent artificial respiration is recommended. But, even if you can do it, you need another person’s help for this procedure. But he may feel panic. This may lead to fatal outcome despite a chance to save own life!
So, first aid to yourself is to start coughing! Before every coughing, take a deep breath. The cough should be deep, chest, and expectorant like in pulmonary diseases. Frequency of “breath-cough” is about every 2 seconds. Proceed doing it till getting assistance or your heart rate is normal. How the cough works? The matter is that deep breaths provide required oxygen to the lungs, and cough suppresses a cardiac muscle and stimulates the blood to circulate better. It helps the heart to restore a normal heart rhythm.
But even if the heart rhythm was restored and you feel better, do not neglect the problem. Immediately take a drug and call the doctor, you are recommended to make a cardiogram. Probably, even hospitalization will be required for you to get necessary treatment.
However, the above-mentioned cardiopulmonary resuscitation is extreme. If you value your life and health, get the required medications around just in case.
- Keep heart medications even if you are not a heart sufferer. By the way, an individual suffered from impaired cardial function with Nitroglycerine or Valocordin appears at an advantage, than the healthy one without heart drugs. Keep the rule: heart drugs should be available to your hands! Keep them in bedside tables and in your pockets. If you do not need them, they can be useful to someone else.
- The phone always should be available, whatever stationary or mobile. Surely, it is not the fact that in case of sudden worsening of health state it will help you, but nevertheless you can call emergency. 3. In case of the severe stress try to breathe deeper (even if you do not observe any heart attack symptoms). If possible do not drive. Take sedative drugs.
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More than a million Americans have heart attacks each year. A heart attack, or myocardial infarction (MI), is permanent damage to the heart muscle. “Myo” means muscle, “cardial” refers to the heart, and “infarction” means death of tissue due to lack of blood supply.
What Happens During a Heart Attack?
The heart muscle requires a constant supply of oxygen-rich blood to nourish it. The coronary arteries provide the heart with this critical blood supply. If you have coronary artery disease, those arteries become narrow and blood cannot flow as well as they should. Fatty matter, calcium, proteins, and inflammatory cells build up within the arteries to form plaques of different sizes. The plaque deposits are hard on the outside and soft and mushy on the inside.
When the plaque is hard, the outer shell cracks (plaque rupture), platelets (disc-shaped particles in the blood that aid clotting) come to the area, and blood clotsform around the plaque. If a blood clot totally blocks the artery, the heart muscle becomes “starved” for oxygen. Within a short time, death of heart muscle cells occurs, causing permanent damage. This is a heart attack While it is unusual, a heart attack can also be caused by a spasm of a coronary artery. During a coronary spasm, the coronary arteries restrict or spasm on and off, reducing blood supply to the heart muscle (ischemia). It may occur at rest, and can even occur in people without significant coronary artery disease.
Each coronary artery supplies blood to a region of heart muscle. The amount of damage to the heart muscle depends on the size of the area supplied by the blocked artery and the time between injury and treatment.
Healing of the heart muscle begins soon after a heart attack and takes about eight weeks. Just like a skin wound, the heart’s wound heals and a scar will form in the damaged area. But, the new scar tissue does not contract. So, the heart’s pumping ability is lessened after a heart attack. The amount of lost pumping ability depends on the size and location of the sca.
Heart Attack Symptoms
Symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Discomfort, pressure, heaviness, or pain in the chest, arm, or below the breastbone
- Discomfort radiating to the back, jaw, throat, or arm
- Fullness, indigestion, or choking feeling (may feel like heartburn)
- Sweating, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness
- Extreme weakness, anxiety, or shortness of breath
- Rapid or irregular heartbeats
During a heart attack, symptoms last 30 minutes or longer and are not relieved by rest or nitroglycerin under the tongue.
Some people have a heart attack without having any symptoms (a “silent” myocardial infarction). A silent MI can occur in anyone, but it is more common among people with diabetes.
What Do I Do if I Have a Heart Attack?
After a heart attack, quick treatment to open the blocked artery is essential to lessen the amount of damage. At the first signs of a heart attack, call for emergency treatment (usually 911). The best time to treat a heart attack is within one to two hours of the first onset of symptoms. Waiting longer increases the damage to your heart and reduces your chance of survival.
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