Understanding the Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack and Contributing Stressors
Research indicates that colder weather during the winter months can actually result in an increase in cardiovascular events, particularly if you already have high blood pressure. With coronary heart disease being the number one killer in America, and stroke being number three, it's clear that we need to be vigilant and take any precautions we can.
The good news is that you can reduce your risk factors significantly by simply knowing the warning signs, and by responding quickly.
The American Heart Association advise that those who are outdoors in cold weather should avoid sudden exertion, such as lifting a heavy shovel full of snow. They caution that walking through heavy, wet snow or snowdrifts can put added strain on the heart. To keep warm, it is best to wear layers of clothing, and a hat or headscarf if you plan to go outdoors.
Just thinking about having a heart attack can be particularly frightening, however if you learn the warning signs, and steps to take, you can save a life.
Heart attack symptoms vary considerable from one individual to the next, however most heart attacks cause severe pain in the centre of the chest. Many heart attacks do start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often symptoms come and go, while others experience no symptoms at all. Therefore, it can be difficult to recognise what's happening, even if you've already suffered from a heart attack.
The American Heart Association states that the warning signs of heart attack include:
- Chest discomfort - uncomfortable pressure, crushing, squeezing or pain in the centre of the chest lasting more than a few minutes, which may come on suddenly.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body - pain may spread to the shoulders, neck, arms, jaw, face, back or stomach.
- Pain experienced can range from mild to intense in severity.
- Feelings of light-headedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.
As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women appear more likely than men to experience some of the other symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
According to The American Stroke Association, the warning signs of stroke include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
Dial 9-1-1 fast
If you, or someone you know experience any of the symptoms listed above, immediately call 9-1-1. Numerous wonderful medications and treatment options are now available to patients, however they must be given within a certain time frame - fast action can save a life.
How can you be prepared for an emergency?
- Keep a list of emergency service telephone numbers next to the telephone, on your refrigerator door, and in your wallet or purse.
- Familiarise yourself with the hospitals, or medical facilities closest to your home or office.
- Keep a list of your current medications and their dosages, any known allergies or other illnesses, and emergency family contacts in your wallet or purse.
Melanie Thomassian is a dietician, and author of Dietriffic.com, an online resource for credible dietary advice, exercise tips, and much more!