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Will you recognise your Heart Attack?

 Will you recognise your Heart Attack?

When one mentions heart attacks, we immediately think of overweight middle-aged men and women. That the elderly and the overweight are at higher risk of heart attacks is a documented fact, but did you also know that the seeds of heart attack are sown much earlier? In fact, research now suggests that if you’re past the age of twenty-one, chances are that your heart has already begun its long walk towards failure.
A heart attack is not a one-time activity; it is a slow build up of many small incidents and habits that get bottled up over a period of two or three decades until your heart one day says: ‘That’s it, I am going to stop working for you now.’
Considering that it’s the leading cause of death worldwide, more prevalent than all cancers combined, heart attacks are relevant in every one of our lives. No matter what your age, little changes to your lifestyle and habits now could prolong your heart’s life (and yours) significantly.

  • Have a low-fat, fibre-rich diet – which means less chips and more fruits and vegetables – at least five times a day, in small portions.
  • Don’t smoke. Don’t smoke. Don’t smoke.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. The good news here is that research suggests consumption of one or two standard alcoholic drinks per day may reduce heart attack risk by as much as 30%. There you go, now you have your excuse.
  • Lower blood pressure if elevated.
  • Make sure you engage in 30 minutes of vigorous exercise per day at least five times per work. And no, a walk in the park is not vigorous exercise.
  • Reduce consumption of sugar
  • Decrease psychosocial stress. Though stress by itself is not a big documented contributor to heart disease, there is enough research to suggest that people, when under stress, give in to bad eating habits. (Remember how much ice cream you ate the last time you broke up with someone?)

These above habits will not eliminate the risk of heart failure, of course, but they will reduce it immensely and will enable you to have a strong, healthy heart for as long as you live. But if, as fate would have it, you were to have a heart attack, would you be able to recognise the symptoms? Here are the top five that you should watch out for.

  • Chest discomfort. A rather obvious one. If you feel a heavy, squeezing sensation in your chest, especially under the breastbone slightly to the left, you may want to reach out for the phone and call a doctor.
  • Anxiety. Heart attack survivors often talk of a feeling of impending doom that they felt just before their attack.
  • Fatigue. If you feel like the wind has been knocked out of your sails and that you cannot bear to stand up for even a few minutes, you may be on the cusp of an attack.
  • Pain in other parts. In many heart attacks, pain spreads from the chest to the shoulders, arms, elbows, neck and jaw.
  • Shortness of breath. If you find yourself panting after a walk to the kitchen and back, it may be that your heart is just about to give up. Call your doctor.

If you’re in the middle of a heart attack, time is of the essence. The sooner you get yourself into the hands of a doctor, the better. So if one of the above symptoms occurs to you – or if more than one occur at the same time – do not delay. Your life could be at stake.

Ali Raza

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