A Heart Attack is a condition that occurs when an artery that sends blood to the heart is blocked.
Also known as myocardial infarction, heart attacks fall under a larger group of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), the leading cause of death globally.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), CVDS claim an estimated 17.9 million lives yearly.
WHO data states that more than four out of five deaths are heart attacks and strokes, with almost one-third occurring prematurely in people under 70.
Moreover, at least three-quarters of the deaths from CVDs have been recorded in low- and middle-income countries due to a lack of stable healthcare programs for early detection and treatment.
In sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, cardiovascular diseases are the main non-communicable conditions and account for up to 9.2 per cent of total deaths in the region.
The diseases account for 7-10 per cent of all adult medical admissions to hospitals, with heart failure contributing about 3-7 per cent.
Causes of Heart Attack
The leading cause of heart attack is Coronary Artery Disease (DAC) – An obstruction which prevents blood from freely flowing to the heart or brain.
It occurs typically when fatty deposits build up inside the walls of the blood vessels. This forms a clot that interrupts blood flow to the heart and brain.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack
Most people are not always aware they are about to experience a heart attack when the symptoms occur.
It’s essential to watch out for these symptoms to ensure you receive specialist attention just in time.
- Shortness of breath. It may occur as the only symptom at a time or may be part of the many symptoms a person experiences, such as chest pains or discomfort.
- Upper body discomfort. Some people may have pain in the back, shoulder, arms, neck, jaw or upper part of the stomach.
- Chest pain or discomfort. One might feel pain or discomfort in the centre or left side of the chest. The discomfort might feel like heartburn or indigestion and last a few minutes.
- Feeling unusually tired (majorly women)
- Feeling dizzy and lightheaded.
- Feeling nauseous and vomiting.
- Shortness of breath
- Hereditary factors
Out of the millions of people who die from heart attacks globally, about half die within an hour of experiencing the first symptom and before getting to the hospital.
The attacks might come slowly with only mild discomfort or pain as the symptoms for some people, while for others, they might be intense and sudden.
People with other underlying conditions, such as diabetes, might not experience symptoms or have very mild ones.
Reducing the risk of Heart Attack
In most cases, cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by addressing behavioural risk factors such as unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and use of alcohol and Tobacco.
So, to reduce the risk factors:
- Reduce the use of salt in your diet
- Eat more fruit and vegetables
- Carry out regular physical activity/ exercise
- Avoid the harmful use of alcohol
- Avoid the use of Tobacco
- Regular Check-Ups
Those with hypertension, diabetes and high blood lipids should go for drug treatment to reduce cardiovascular risks and prevent heart attacks.
Remember that the early the symptom is detected, the sooner and better the management and treatment process will be.
Cervical Cancer: Only 1 In 10 Girls are Vaccinated Against HPV
For more Healthcare news, follow us on Instagram | Twitter| Facebook| LinkedIn