Each year, nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a heart attack. Of those 800,000
cases, roughly 600,000 are to first-time heart attack victims.
Identifying a Heart Attack
If you or someone you love experiences a heart attack, it’s important
to react quickly. Calling 911 at the first sign of a heart attack may
be what saves your life.
Common signs of a heart attack include:
Chest pain: Chest “pain” can also be chest discomfort, tightness, or fullness.
It can either last for several minutes or start, stop, and start again.
Sudden discomfort pain radiating, numbness in other parts of your body: Heart attacks can also affect other areas of your body, like your arms,
neck, and jaw.
Shortness of breath: A heart attack will often affect your lungs and make it difficult to breathe.
Sweating: It’s also possible for a person to suddenly begin sweating, feeling
nauseous, or lightheaded.
It’s important to remember that silent heart attacks are also very
real. While most people experience the above-mentioned symptoms, 1 in
5 heart attacks is silent, meaning the same level of damage is done, however,
the person is unaware of it.
Men and Women Often Suffer Different Symptoms
While men are more likely to experience chest pain during a heart attack,
women are more likely to experience shortness of breath or vomiting.
Why Family History is So Important
Your risk of heart disease (which can increase your likelihood of a heart
attack) is strongly related to your family history and genetics. If even
one person in your family has had a heart attack, you’re at a higher
risk of having one. The closer related you are to that person (mother,
father, sibling), the greater your risk is.
The next time you’re with family, ask them if they’ve ever
had a stroke, heart attack, or have heart disease. Relay this information
to your doctor at your next physical.
Lowering Your Risk of a Heart Attack
Whether you have a family history of heart attack or not, everyone should
take precautions to lower their risk. This includes:
- Never smoking or quitting if you do.
- Having your cholesterol levels tested and working to lower them if they’re high.
- Bringing your blood pressure down if it’s high.
- Staying active throughout the day.
- Eating heart-healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans,
nuts, and legumes.