Early Heart Attack Care (EHAC)
Angina is not a heart attack. But if angina pain is severe or prolonged, it can lead to a heart attack.
Risk Factors for Heart Disease
Cigarette Smoking — Nicotine constricts blood vessels, damages the lining of blood vessels, causes blood to clot more easily.
High Blood Pressure — Damages the lining of blood vessels, promotes plaque build-up in arteries. Good blood pressure control with diet and medication will reduce risk.
High Blood Cholesterol — Damages the lining of blood vessels, deposits inside the wall of the damaged blood vessel lining and forms plaque that narrows the coronary blood vessels.
Use of Stimulant Drugs — Amphetamines and certain illegal drugs such as cocaine and crack cause arteries to contract very strongly and cause blood to clot more easily.
Eating a High-Fat, High-Cholesterol Meal — Causes arteries to contract and blood to clot more easily.
Obesity — Increases risk for diabetes and high blood pressure.
Inactive Lifestyle — Lack of regular physical activity.
Diabetes — Good glucose control may reduce risk.
- Chronic high stress levels release stress hormones. These raise blood pressure and cholesterol level and make blood clot more easily.
- Held-in anger, hostile or cynical attitude.
- Social and emotional isolation, lack of intimacy.
- Loss of relationship.
Other factors that increase the risk of heart attack that you cannot control:
- Age. The older you get beyond 40, the greater is your risk of significant coronary artery disease.
- Gender. More men than women get heart disease; but once past menopause, women who are not taking estrogen replacement have the same risk as men for a heart attack.
- Family History. If your mother, father, brother or sister has coronary artery disease, your risk of having the same condition is higher than a person your age without this family history.
- Learn how to take your own blood pressure. Keep a record of your results. Ask your doctor which readings mean that you need medical attention.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Get help to lose any extra pounds.
- Cut back on salt. Limit canned, dried, packaged and fast foods. Don’t add salt to your food at the table. Season foods with herbs instead of salt when you cook.
- Begin an exercise program. Ask your doctor how to get started. You can benefit from simple activities
- such as walking or gardening.
- Break the smoking habit. Enroll in a stop-smoking program to improve your chances of success.
- Avoid stressful situations. Learn stress-management techniques.
Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
If you have symptoms that you can’t explain, call 9-1-1!
The following are warning signs of a possible heart attack:
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
Note for women: Like men, women most commonly have chest pain or discomfort as a heart attack symptom. But women are somewhat more likely than men to have some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, back pain, or jaw pain.
DO NOT DELAY. Fast diagnosis and treatment can prevent or limit the amount of heart damage during a heart attack.
DO NOT GO TO YOUR DOCTOR’S OFFICE OR TO A CLINIC. CALL 9-1-1!