Heart attacks can happen to anyone, of any age, at any time. They are not prejudiced and know no boundaries. Everyone has risk factors for a heart attack, whether they be genetic or acquired. By learning what your specific risk factors may be, and taking the necessary steps to reduce or eliminate them from your life, you can help reduce your risk for creating a heart blockage and ultimately, experiencing a heart attack. In addition, if you are aware of the symptoms, you will be better equipped to seek medical attention in a more timely manner, which could save your life.
When one or more areas of the heart experiences a prolonged or severe blockage of blood flow to the muscle of the heart, a heart attack occurs. Heart blockages decrease the amount of oxygen the muscle of the heart receives, which ultimately damages the heart.
A heart blockage is a direct result of the plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries caused by high cholesterol levels. Eventually, the plaque ruptures, causing a blood clot to form; it is this blood clot that causes the blockage.
Genetic Risk Factors
Some examples of genetic risk factors include high blood pressure, those with Type I diabetes, a family history of heart disease (especially with an onset before the age of 55) and the natural aging process.
Acquired Risk Factors
Some examples of acquired risk factors include eating foods that are high in saturated fats, little or no exercise, smoking, consuming too much alcohol and being overweight by 30 pounds or more.
Symptoms include severe pain in the upper right abdomen, indigestion unrelated to eating, chest pain that radiates to the jaw, neck or arm, or a painful or burning feeling in the upper abdomen.
Many times symptoms of a heart attack or blockage can mirror those of another medical condition. However, the following are some of the more severe symptoms of a heart attack: chest pain that is not relieved after taking nitroglycerin, chest pain accompanied with a rapid or irregular pulse, sweating, cold and clammy hands, dizziness and fainting.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, no matter how slight, seek medical attention immediately. It is better to discover it is only indigestion than to lose your life because of procrastination.