Prevent heart attack and stroke

Generic regular strength enteric coated 325mg ...

Generic regular strength enteric coated 325mg aspirin tablets. The orange tablets are imprinted in black with “L429”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This brief article will provide information and links to where additional information can be found to help you recognize and hopefully prevent a heart attack or stroke.

According to cardiologists, most heart attacks occur in the day, generally between 6 a.m. and noon. If you take an aspirin or a baby aspirin once a day, take it at night. Aspirin has a 24-hour “half-life” therefore, the aspirin would be strongest in your system when most heart attacks happen, in the wee hours of the morning.

A 2012 RetiredBrains survey of cardiologists provides the following information on the symptoms, warning signs and treatment for heart attack and stroke.

How to recognize heart attack symptoms

Chest discomfort that feels like pressure, or seems like a squeezing pain in the center of your chest. This pain generally lasts for more than a few minutes, but sometimes goes away and returns.

Pain and/or discomfort that extends beyond your chest to other parts of your upper body, such as one or both arms, back, neck, stomach, teeth, and even your jaw; shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort. Other symptoms include: cold sweats, nausea or vomiting, lightheadedness, indigestion, and fatigue.

What should I do when heart attack symptoms occur

If you or someone you are with experiences chest discomfort or other heart attack symptoms the first thing you should do is call 9-1-1.

Don’t wait to make the call. Don’t drive yourself to the hospital. Don’t drive the person having a heart attack to the hospital. Immediate treatment lessens heart damage and can save your life. Emergency medical services personnel can begin treatment in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and are trained to revive a person if his/her heart stops. Some people delay treatment because they are not sure they are really having a heart attack. Remember call 911 immediately as treatment given within an hour of the first heart attack symptoms saves lives and damage to the heart and substantially increases the chances of survival.

What should I do before paramedics arrive

If 911 has been called:

1. Try to keep the person calm, and have them sit or lie down.

2. If the person isn’t allergic to aspirin, have them chew and swallow an aspirin (It works faster when chewed than swallowed whole.)

3. If the person stops breathing, you or someone else who is qualified should perform CPR immediately. If you don’t know CPR, the 9-1-1 operator can assist you until the EMS personnel arrive.

For more information, check out the heart disease section on Mayo Clinic’s site and the warning signs of heart attack, stroke and cardiac arrest, compiled by the American Heart Association.

The information contained in this article should not be substituted for the advice of your physician. If you experience any symptoms or are concerned about your health in any way, you should immediately seek the advice of your physician.

From MarketWatch

The Difference Between Sudden Cardiac Arrest and Heart Attacks

Cardiac Arrest Survival

Cardiac Arrest Survival (Photo credit: GEEKSTATS)

, director of cardiology at Johns Hopkins Hospital, talks about the difference between sudden cardiac arrest and a heart attack and what those at risk can do.

Question: What is sudden cardiac arrest?

Answer: Sudden cardiac arrest refers to collapse and loss of consciousness due to a dramatic fall in blood pressure. This is often but not always the result of a life-threatening arrhythmia or an abnormality of the normal rhythmic activity of the heart. An excessively fast or slow heart rate can cause a profound drop in the blood pressure and sudden cardiac arrest. [It] is not a heart attack or myocardial infarction, which refers to a critical blockage in a blood vessel that supplies blood, oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle. A blockage in a blood vessel can cause part of the heart muscle to die and be replaced by scar.

Q: How common is it, and who is at risk?

A: The risk factors for sudden cardiac arrest include the presence of heart disease, a family history and many of the factors that increase the risk for a heart attack, such as smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar or diabetes, and a poor diet. If someone has heart disease, particularly with weakness of the heart muscle, they may be at particularly high risk for sudden cardiac arrest and may benefit from implantation of an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator. [The defibrillators] may also benefit patients with a family history of sudden cardiac arrest and/or a genetic tendency to arrhythmias.

Q: How can you prevent sudden cardiac arrest?

A: In some cases, sudden cardiac arrest can be brought on by exertion, but this is not always the case, as sudden cardiac arrest often occurs when one is at rest. Physical activity is generally good for all of us. Those with known heart disease should consult their health care provider about the details of their own physical activity, but generally, even patients with heart disease should try to remain active. It’s wise to avoid extreme activity, particularly in harsh environmental conditions, such as heat or cold. For anyone who exercises, symptoms such as profound dizziness or lightheadedness, chest pain, shortness of breath, extreme fatigue and/or palpitations should prompt cessation of exercise and depending upon the severity of the symptoms and get prompt medical attention.

Q: How is sudden cardiac arrest different from a heart attack?

A: Heart attacks are caused by blockage of the arteries, which supply oxygen and nutrients. These most often are accompanied by chest pain and/or shortness of breath. Sudden cardiac arrest can be a complication of a heart attack, but it can occur without a heart attack. The treatment of a heart attack is to limit the damage to the heart by promptly opening up the involved blood vessel by a procedure known as angioplasty and by placing a stent to keep that vessel open. The treatment of sudden cardiac arrest is restoration of the heart’s normal rate of contraction and rhythm, and this typically involves a shock to the chest that’s known as cardioversion or defibrillation.

Q: How quickly do you need to be treated to survive?

A: The most common arrhythmias or irregularities of the heart that cause sudden cardiac arrest are rapid heart rhythms from the heart’s lower chamber. These are called ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation. If these arrhythmias are not promptly corrected by a shock to the chest, the individual will die. In the case of ventricular fibrillation, this may take only minutes. One can buy time by performing effective CPR. Just chest compressions, or so-called “hands-only” CPR, can be lifesaving.

Adapted from The Baltimore Sun