Also called myocardial infarction or MI, a heart attack happens when there’s severe or prolonged lack of oxygen in the heart muscle due to an obstruction in the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart itself. It is said that a heart attack is the number one killer in the US. Here are some more vital facts about this very serious condition:

  • Risk factors for heart attack that cannot be changed or influenced include age, race, gender, family history, and prior heart attacks or stroke.
  • There are also risk factors that may be influenced so that you may reduce your chances of having a heart attack. They include high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, poor eating habits and cigarette smoking.
  • Discomfort, pain, pressure or squeezing sensation in the middle of the chest is one of the classic symptoms of a heart attack. The pain experienced, which can range from mild to intense, may radiate to the shoulders, arms, jaw, between the shoulder blades and stomach. Other usual symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, fatigue, excessive sweating, cold and clammy skin, and anxiety or nervousness.
  • It’s not unlikely for women suffering from a heart attack to experience less severe symptoms. In fact, some women may experience no symptom at all, something which often causes the misdiagnosis of a heart attack. It’s also for this reason why it is said that more women die from a heart attack than men.
  • Almost 700,000 people in the US die each year from cardiovascular disease and heart attack. Experts add that nearly 50% of individuals who are suffering from a heart attack come to the hospital only a couple of hours after or even more.

Just like what’s mentioned earlier, there are some risk factors for heart attack that you can do nothing about. The good news is there are more risk factors that can be actually altered to keep this number 1 killer in the US at bay. These are the things that you may do to ward off a heart attack:

  • Stop smoking – Experts say that the leading risk factor for heart attack that can be prevented easily is cigarette smoking. This habit causes high blood pressure and formation of plaque in the arteries, both of which can increase your odds of suffering from cardiovascular disease and heart attack.
  • Drink alcohol moderately – A serving of alcohol such as red wine everyday may actually have a positive impact on the cardiovascular system. However, too much alcohol consumption can raise your blood pressure and increase your likelihood of having a heart attack.
  • Go for a high-fiber diet – Fruits and vegetables are loaded with fiber that helps lower high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, thus considerably reducing your odds of getting a heart attack. They are also packed with antioxidants that help ward off the clogging up of arteries and inflammation which can damage the blood vessels.
  • Reduce your consumption of saturated fats – Choose lean cuts of beef and pork to minimize your consumption of saturated fats that are bad for the heart. It’s a wonderful idea to add skinless chicken or turkey breast in your diet too. Other excellent sources of protein good for you and your heart include fish, tofu, legumes, seeds and nuts.
  • Exercise on a regular basis – This helps keep excess pounds at bay, thus reducing your risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease and heart attack. Exercising regularly also helps strengthen the heart and keep the arteries clog-free. It’s an excellent step to take in managing diabetes, a condition that puts you at risk of a heart attack.
  • Manage stress – Avoiding as much stressors as you can as well as dealing with stress effectively can help in warding off a heart attack. Luckily, there are numerous stress-busting solutions around. Some of them include doing yoga, getting a full-body massage, painting, listening to music, having a pet and embracing a new hobby.
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