Your heart is a hard-working organ that keeps you going 24*7 365 days by pumping blood throughout the body. It is this pumping action of the heart that provides your vital body organs with oxygen, nutrients and helps eliminate carbon dioxide and waste materials. Like any other muscle in your body, the heart muscle also needs oxygen to survive.
When the blood flow that supplies oxygen to the heart muscle is severely or completely cut off, it causes a heart attack. While earlier people used to believe that heart disease affects the elderly only, the sad demise of the well-known actor and model, Siddharth Shukla, has left the entire nation shocked and fueled a debate among fans on can a young (and in fact, quite physically fit) person get a heart attack too!
Are heart attacks common in young people?
In general, men age 45 or older and women age 55 or older are at an increased risk of getting a heart attack. However, young heart attack victims are more likely to be smokers, obese, and have chronic conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. So all in all, it’s quite evident that an unhealthy lifestyle may be putting a lot of stress on the heart, predisposing young adults to a heart attack.
Make sure to take extra care of your health and get health tests done from time to time. Book our TruHealth Youth Package here.
Symptoms of heart attack
At many times, heart attacks can sneak up on you without any warning signs. The process of blockade of heart vessels has no symptoms. What happens is that when blood vessels supplying the heart muscle narrow, other nearby blood vessels that serve the heart, called collateral circulation, sometimes enlarge to compensate for the reduced blood supply, hence you may not experience any early signs of heart attack.
Following are the symptoms that characterize occurrence of a heart attack
- Chest pain or discomfort: Most heart attacks cause discomfort or pain in the center of the chest. Some people can feel uncomfortable pressure, squeezing or fullness. It can last more than a few minutes. It may get relieved on its own and then come back.
- Shortness of breath either in presence or absence of chest discomfort.
- Cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, or neck.
Symptoms may vary between men and women
As with men, the most common heart attack symptom in women is chest pain or discomfort. However, women can be somewhat more likely than men to have some of the other symptoms, including difficulty breathing, nausea/vomiting, and pain in back or jaw.
You can have a heart attack and not even know it
It is called a silent heart attack. It gives no symptoms, or mild symptoms or goes unrecognised by the sufferer.
Reasons for heart attack
An excess cholesterol and fat can build up in the coronary arteries, vessels that supply the heart muscle with blood flow. This can cause them to become narrow. This process is known as atherosclerosis and the build up is called plaque. When such a plaque within a coronary artery break, a blood clot can be formed around it. This blood clot can cause blockage in the blood flow through the blood vessel to the heart muscle, leading to oxygen and nutrients scarcity. As a result, a part of the heart muscle can get damaged, causing a heart attack.
Keep a check on your cholesterol levels with a lipid profile test.
How is a heart attack diagnosed?
A heart attack can be diagnosed through certain health tests which include:
- Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and echocardiograms
- Electrocardiography, a test that measures electrical activity in the heart
- Blood tests for heart attack can confirm that a (silent) heart attack has occurred. A test that measures cardiac troponin helps to know if a heart damage has occurred.
How does a heart attack feel?
Having a heart attack is a scary experience. But, not everyone who gets a heart attack succumbs, many people survive heart attacks and enjoy their lives. For this, it is important you know about the risk factors and stray them away.
Factors that put a youngster at high risk of a heart attack include:
- Smoking and alcohol
- High cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Sedentary lifestyle
- A family history
- High levels of stress
Usually, a heart attack results from a combination of factors and not just any one factor.
Heart attack emergency treatment at home
Heart attack is a medical emergency that you cannot treat at home. However, you should know things that you can do if someone experiences a heart attack
Stay in the know with these tips:
- Let the person sit down, rest, and be calm but quick.
- Loosen any tight clothing.
- If the person is unresponsive, call an ambulance, in parallel, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or perform manual chest compressions.
- If the person has a known heart condition and takes any chest pain medicine, such as nitroglycerin, and help them get the medicine. If the pain does not subside within 3 minutes of taking it, reach out for medical assistance.
Heart attack after COVID-19
Studies have suggested that COVID-19 can cause damage to the heart muscle and affect heart function. Several reasons have been proposed for this including the high levels of inflammation circulating in the body. The effect on the heart can be more severe in people having pre existing heart disease. Ensure taking doctor’s help if you feel any warning signs even after recovering from COVID. Book COVID monitor recovery test here.
Preventing heart attack in youngsters
A healthy lifestyle is the key to prevention of heart attack.
- Quit smoking. Smoking more than doubles the risk of getting a heart disease.
- Keep your vital numbers in check including blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose.
- Lose weight if you are overweight or obese.
- Get regular exercise. Even brisk walking for 30 minutes can be extremely beneficial for heart health.
- Limit bad fats (saturated and trans fats) and sugars. Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.
- Check if you are taking too much of alcohol and limit it if the answer is a yes.
A heart attack is life threatening and needs emergency medical attention. However, many people have survived heart attacks due to effective and timely treatment.
All you need is to start incorporating those small changes one step at a time .