Heart attacks occur when the supply of blood to the heart suddenly becomes blocked, often by a blood clot. A lack of blood to the heart may seriously damage the heart muscle and lead to life-threatening complications such as arrhythmia and heart failure. Making lifestyle changes is the best way to prevent the condition developing, such as eating a healthy balanced diet, avoiding smoking and keeping blood pressure to a healthy level. But if a person is at increased risk of heart attack, their best chance of survival is recognising the symptoms.
While heart attack symptoms can vary from one person to another, the British Heart Foundation lists three of the most common signs to look out for.
- Pain or discomfort in your chest that suddenly occurs and doesn’t go away.
- The pain may spread to your left or right arm or may spread to your neck, jaw, back or stomach. For some people the pain or tightness is severe, while other people just feel uncomfortable.
- You may also feel sick, sweaty, light-headed or short of breath.
The charity adds: “It’s possible to have a heart attack without experiencing ‘classic’ chest pain.
“This is more common in the elderly, women or those with diabetes as the condition can cause nerve damage which can affect how you feel pain.”
If you suspect the symptoms of a heart attack you should dial 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.
The NHS advises: “If someone has had a heart attack, it’s important to rest while they wait for an ambulance, to avoid unnecessary strain on the heart.
“If aspirin is easily available and the person who has had a heart attack isn’t allergic to it, slowly chew and then swallow an adult-sized tablet (300mg) while waiting for the ambulance.
“The aspirin helps to thin the blood and restore the heart’s blood supply.”
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help prevent the condition, but certain foods in particular have been proven to have heart health boosting properties, such as garlic.
Garlic has been used as a natural remedy for centuries for a variety of ailments.
More and more scientific evidence recently has confirmed its benefits for heart health.
In one study, taking garlic extract in doses of 600 to 1,500mg daily for 24 weeks was found to be effective at reducing blood pressure – as effective as a common prescription drug.
High blood pressure can lead to a heart attack, as it causes the coronary arteries which serve the heart to become narrower and clogged with choelsterol.
A review which looked at the results of 39 studies found garlic can reduce total choelsterol by an average of 17mg/dL and ‘bad’ cholesterol by 9mg/dL in those with high cholesterol.
As well as eating a healthy diet and avoiding smoking, high blood pressure can be prevented by sticking to the recommended limits of alcohol (no more than 14 units a week, spread over three days or more), losing weight and exercising regularly.