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A Beginner’s Guide to Heart Attack

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A Beginner’s Guide to Heart Attack

Cardiac Sciences | Posted on 02/02/2023 by RBH

Did you know that more than 1.1 million people experience a heart attack also known as myocardial infarction every year? Yes, you heard that right. And, this is not all, according to studies, it found that heart attacks are a common reason for millions of deaths across the globe. Studies also suggest that a person is more likely to experience a heart attack than cancer, which is the second major cause of death all over the world nowadays. 

You might not give it a thought throughout your day, but your heart is functioning for you around the clock. The heart is the most important muscle of the human body as it provides blood and oxygen to our organs. In this fast-paced world, it has become difficult for everyone to make heart health a top priority. And, when the heart doesn’t receive the care it deserves, then serious problems can grow in the artery lining causing the formation of plaque.

Hence, it is essential to comprehend the conditions affecting the heart including habits that can help in preventing or managing the heart attack. Taking action in advance is the best way to keep your heart healthy. In this write-up, we will cover everything that you must know about heart attacks so make sure to give it a read.

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack takes place when the blood supply to a part of the heart is interrupted, causing heart cells to die. The interruption is caused by a build-up of fatty particles called plaque inside the walls of the pipes or arteries carrying blood to the heart. A lack of blood supply results in a shortage of oxygen, which if left untreated for a sufficient period leads to death. A heart attack is a medical emergency and should be attended to with the highest priority.

What are the symptoms of a heart attack?

The noticeable heart attack symptoms are mentioned below:

  • Sharp chest pain and discomfort. It occurs in the centre of your chest along with this, you can sense a feeling of tightness, pressure and heaviness
  • Pain in the jaw, feeling of tightness in and around the lower jaw on either one or both sides. This pain and discomfort spread from your chest to your jaw
  • Pain travels from chest to back especially in the shoulder area
  • Numbness, pain and discomfort in arms as it spread from chest to your arms
  • Pain, burning and a feeling of choking may occur in the throat. The pain even spread from your chest to your neck
  • Shortness of breath is also experienced along with other heart attack symptoms. One can face difficulty in breathing or may take a deep breath due to chest tightness
  • Nausea, light-headedness, cold sweat and dizziness are a few symptoms that also occur in a few cases

What causes a heart attack?

There are various factors which contribute to the unwelcomed build-up of fatty deposits (atherosclerosis) that narrow arteries throughout your body. You can eradicate many of these risk factors to lessen your chances of having a heart attack. The heart attack risk factors include:

  • Age- Men who are above 45 and women who are above 55 are more likely to experience a heart attack
  • Tobacco- Smoking and long-term contact with passive smoking enhance the risk of chest pain or heart attack.
  • High blood pressure- It can harm arteries that feed your heart by accelerating atherosclerosis. Reasons behind high blood pressure are smoking, high cholesterol obesity, or diabetes.
  • Diabetes- Insulin is a hormone secreted by your pancreas and lets your body use glucose. Diabetes, particularly uncontrolled, upsurges your risk of chest pain.
  • Family history of heart attack- If your siblings, parents or grandparents have had an early heart attack by age 55 for male relatives and by age 65 for female relatives, you are at risk.
  • No physical activity- Sedentary lifestyle contributes to high blood cholesterol levels and obesity.
  • Obesity- Obesity is related to high triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels and diabetes.
  • Stress- Stress also puts you at a high risk of experiencing a heart attack.
  • A history of preeclampsia- This condition leads to high blood pressure during pregnancy causing the risk of a heart attack.
  • A history of an autoimmune Condition-Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other autoimmune conditions are other contributing factors to a heart attack.

Ways to prevent a heart attack

Most heart attacks are because of the way we live, and can usually be avoided with some lifestyle changes. Here are some tips to prevent a heart attack.

  • Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and fatty fish can help protect your heart.
  • Reduce salt- Studies have found that eating less salt can reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Excess weight can cause conditions that enhance your probability of heart disease. If you are overweight, get in touch with your doctor and find a professional nutritionist
  • When it comes to preventing heart disease, no amount of smoking is safe, so quit smoking
  • Regular exercise can decrease your risk of serious heart disease. Physical activity benefits you control your weight and can lessen your chances of growing other conditions
  • Stress is one of the contributing factors to heart attacks. Hence, ensure control in different ways such as taking deep breaths or finding a place to simply relax
  • Correct your sleep patterns. Studies suggest that people who sleep less than five hours are more likely to suffer from a heart attack than people who sleep an average of eight hours. So, try to stay within the eight-hour range.
  • Preventive health screenings can offer you and your doctor a lot of information about your heart condition. 


Consult with a cardiologist and get immediate treatment if the situation is worse. Patients aren't given any surgical treatment in most events as medications alone can promise a speedy recovery. But if the condition is critical, patients and relatives are advised to take the needed action as suggested by the doctor. Keep monitoring the symptoms and make sure you aren't ignoring anything which could get you into trouble.


How long does a heart attack last?

If the heart attack is mild, then it might last for around two to five minutes, but a full heart attack having blockage lasts for around twenty minutes or even more than that.

What foods help in preventing heart attacks?

Green vegetables, nuts, poultry, fish, vegetable oils, and whole grains are the best foods to prevent heart attack.