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When Cupid’s Arrows Turn Deadly – Heart Attack

Let’s look at some of the stats:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),

  • Heart Disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.
  • Each year around 610,000 people die of Heart Disease in the United States.
  • One in every four deaths that occurs, is a result of Heart Disease.
  • The most common type of Heart Disease is Coronary Heart Disease, that kills over 370,000 people every year.
  • Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 210,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.

A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, occurs when a part of the heart muscle doesn’t receive enough blood flow. The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart muscle.

Most individuals aren’t aware, there are two basic types of Heart Attacks. Both involve the buildup of fatty deposits in one or more of the coronary arteries.

The first type of Heart Attack (Type 1) occurs when a plaque ruptures, causing a blood clot to form. The clot blocks the artery, cutting off blood flow to part of the heart.

The second type of Heart Attack (Type 2) occurs when the plaque buildup severely restricts, but does not completely block the blood flow to your heart.

The main differences between Type 1 and Type 2 is the actual symptoms of the Heart Attack. Think of the Type 1 Heart as the classic Heart Attack:

  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
  • Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint.
  • Chest pain or discomfort.
  • Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder.
  • Shortness of breath.

Other symptoms of a heart attack could include:

  • unusual or unexplained tiredness
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Women are more likely to also experience:

  • chest pain that is sharp and burning
  • pain in the neck, jaw, throat, abdomen or back.

With Type 1, you will typically feel fine and then all of a sudden, experience the symptoms listed above.

With Type 2, because there is no rupture occurring, you don’t experience the symptoms to anywhere near the same intensity or length of time.

This is what makes Type 2 so deadly. You could be having a Heart Attack, but chalk it up to Heart Burn. The symptoms of Type 2 are:

  • mild pressure on your chest
  • heartburn sensations
  • dizziness
  • shortness of breath
  • sudden fatigue

As you can see, these symptoms aren’t anywhere near as alarming as Type 1. As a result, people aren’t aware they are having an actual Heart Attack, and therefore, do NOT get immediate medical attention.

Harvard Men’s Health Watch cited a study from 2014 comprised of more than 3,700 people that found about 50% of people who experience Type 2 heart attacks die within two years, compared with only 26% of those who have a Type 1 attack.

It is critical if you experience a heart attack, to receive medical attention immediately to receive either medication to break up the clot or a stent to open the blockage.

According to the National Institute on Aging, People age 65 and older are much more likely than younger people to suffer a heart attack, however, if you have the risk factors for a Heart Attack, you can be on track to have a heart attack in your 40s, 30s or even 20s. Always listen to your body regardless of your age. If you feel you are experiencing a Heart Attack, get medical attention immediately.

What can you do to prevent Heart Disease and Heart Attacks?

  • Be physically active
  • Follow a heart healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • If you smoke, quit smoking
  • Watch your alcohol consumption
  • Manage stress

While none of these steps are mind blowing, managing stress is the one that is most often overlooked. The risk for having a Type 2 heart attack goes up when stress places more demand on your heart.

Remember “Don’t sweat the small stuff and everything is small stuff”

Happy Valentines Day,

Dr. Jim Bell

CEO of the IFPA

“8 Steps to a Heart-Healthy Diet.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 9 Jan. 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-healthy-diet/art-20047702.

Harvard Health Publishing. “A Different Kind of Heart Attack.” Harvard Health Blog, Harvard Health Publishing, www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/a-different-kind-of-heart-attack-2019.

“Heart Disease Facts & Statistics.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm.

“Heart Health and Aging.” National Institute on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nia.nih.gov/health/heart-health-and-aging.