Don't Become a Heart Attack Statistic
When Good Hearts Go Bad
My husband, Mike, and I have lost way too many friends, and family members to heart attacks. I never met my father-in-law. He was in his early forties when he died on his birthday.
Six years ago, a friend from our church died from a heart attack. She was only forty-three, and left behind two children. Three years ago, we lost another friend without warning to heart disease. Two years ago, Mike's brother, that he had been very close too, died from a heart attack.
Family history has influenced my husband throughout his life to take care of his heart. He doesn't smoke, and keeps fit by playing tennis, golf, and running.
When we leave this earth is God's decision, not ours. Still though, is there anything that can be done to maybe delay that time just a little?
Who Is Likely to Have a Heart Attack?
According to Mayo Clinic.com, "heart disease is the number one worldwide killer of men and women." That means that no one can pretend that the statistics are for "the other guy." Also, the likeliness of having a heart attack increases with age. I don't think any of us have yet learned how to turn back the clock. We also have no say in our family history. There are other risk factors though, that we can have some control over.
- Smoking - Damages the blood vessels, increases the risk of hypertension.
- Hypertension - Causes hardening and thickening of the blood vessels.
- Obesity - The heart just has to work harder
- Unhealthy Diet - Fatty greasy food raises cholesterol levels, promotes plaque to form in the arteries, and causes obesity.
- Sedentary Living - The heart is a muscle that needs regular exercise, just like the rest of the body.
- Infection - Infections, such as a "Strep Throat" that has not been properly treated can lead to endocarditis, an infection of the heart. Also, poor dental hygiene can contribute to heart disease.
Is There A Common Thread Amongst Victims?
Most of us have heard of the risk factors before. Heart disease is a frequent morning television topic. What is interesting to me though, does not get talked about as much as obesity, and belly fat. What do these cardiac victims have in common at the moment that the heart attack occurs?
In the case of friends and family I have known, a common factor is EXTREME EXERTION during EXTREME WEATHER conditions, either severe heat, or severe cold. An frequently reported example of this is the person who dies suddenly shoveling snow, or the marathon runner who collapses in the heat.
I believe men are actually more likely to suffer from an exertional heart attack than woman. This is because men from the time they are children seem to want to prove their strength. Even if they have done no exercise or lifting for months, if a neighbor asks them to help move furniture, most men would not say no. They also do not want to say that something is too heavy for them to lift. My husband likes to say "if you start the race, you have to finish it."
A good strategy to help prevent a heart attack might be:
- Stop racing if you don't feel right, and get help.
- If something is too heavy for you to lift, it is better to say no, or get more help.
- Train first, and gradually build up your fitness level before attempting a new strenuous exercise routine.
- Avoid extreme exertion during temperature extremes.
Common Heart Attack Symptoms
Symptoms of a heart attack can vary widely. Men will often experience different symptoms then women will. Sometimes symptoms will be very non-specific. Working as a nurse, as I did, the dreaded words from a patient that had suddenly become very weak, would be "Something is wrong, I just don't feel right." Here are some of the frequently reported symptoms, as reported by the American Heart Association.
- Chest discomfort in the center of the chest. It might appear as pressure, fullness, or crushing pain. It might go away, and then come back.
- Arm, Jaw, or Neck pain, or pain felt in the back or stomach. The arm pain is often felt going down the left arm, but could be felt in either arm.
- Shortness of Breath, Nausea, Dizziness, Weakness, are other symptoms frequently reported. Women sometimes will just experience the weakness, and nausea, and not necessarily have chest pain.
- Sweating, Extreme Fatigue are symptoms that also frequently occur in both men and women.
If any of these symptoms occur, it is important to call 911, and get help right away.
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- MayoClinic.com - heart disease
- American Heart Association - heart attack and stroke warning signs.