Are you sure that your lifestyle is healthy enough to stave off a heart attack?
Here is a list of risk factors for heart attacks: smoking, unhealthy diet and obesity, lack of exercise, alcohol use, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
If you are an average American, or an average world citizen for that matter, you probably sport one or more of these risk factors.
Why so many of us insist on neglecting out health and risking our lives unnecessarily remains a mystery, but fortunately, the internet is a treasure chest of useful information that can save our lives if we don’t care too much to live more sensibly.
Over at Bright Side they have listed eight signs your body will give you a month before you get a heart attack. This will help you to recognize a heart attack a month before it happens.
8. Chest pain
This is the most obvious sign of an impending heart attack. If you have a blocked artery or are having a heart attack, you may feel pain, tightness, or pressure in your chest.
Men and women experience chest pains in different intensities and forms. In men, this symptom refers to the most important early signs of an impending heart attack that should not be ignored. On the other hand, it affects only 30% of women.
Description: Chest pain can expand to uncomfortable sensations in one or both arms (more often the left one), the lower jaw, neck, shoulders, or stomach. It may have a permanent or temporary character. People use different words to describe the sensation from saying it’s like an elephant is sitting on them or it’s like pinching or burning.
7. Excessive perspiration
Unusual or excessive sweating is an early warning sign of a heart attack. It might occur at any time of the day or night. According to WebMD, breaking out in a cold sweat for no obvious reason could also signal a heart attack.
It’s more common for women to experience excessive sweating and it’s often confused with the hot flushes associated with menopause.
Description: Flu-like symptoms, clammy skin, or experiencing sweatiness regardless of air temperature or physical exertion. Sweating seems to be more excessive at night.
6. Irregular heartbeat
It’s normal for your heart rate to increase when you’re nervous or excited, but if you feel like your heart is beating out of time for more than just a few seconds, or if it happens often, it might be a sign that you’re heading for a heart attack.
“Skipped beats or arrhythmias are often accompanied by a panic attack and anxiety, especially among women. It appears unexpectedly and reveals itself differently: arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) or tachycardia (increased heart rate). Physical exercises might give an extra stimulus to the increase of heart rate, especially in cases with atherosclerosis disease,” reports Bright Side.
Description: The irregular heartbeat lasts for 1-2 minutes. If it doesn’t fade, you might feel dizziness and extreme fatigue. Call the doctor right away.
5. Hair loss
Losing your hair is considered to be just another visible indicator of the risk of heart disease. Most commonly it affects men over 50, but some women may also be in the risk group. Baldness is also associated with an increased level of the hormone cortisol.
Description: Pay close attention to losing hair from the crown of your head.
4. Shortness of breath
Breathlessness, or dyspnoea, is a common symptom of several medical conditions, heart problems being one of them. If the heart muscle is not pumping effectively, pressure can build up within the lungs and the chambers of the heart, creating the sensation of breathlessness.
It often occurs among men and women for up to 6 months prior to having a heart attack.
Description: Feeling like you can’t get enough air, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
Insomnia is also associated with an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke. A decrease in oxygen levels — caused by changes in the heart due to heart disease — may trigger subtle changes that lead to anxiety, insomnia, and agitation that can’t be explained by normal circumstances. People who’ve had a heart attack often realize afterward they began to experience anxiety and sleep problems in the months before the attack. Could this be the body’s way of warning you that something’s not right?
Description: Symptoms include difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying sleep, and waking up very early.
2. Abdominal pain
Abdominal pains, empty/full stomach nausea, feeling bloated, or an upset stomach are several of the most common symptoms. It’s easy to attribute these to indigestion problems instead of a heart problem. The symptoms are equally likely to occur among women and men.
Poor circulation and lack of oxygen circulating in the blood (caused by a weak heart or blocked arteries) can lead to ongoing nausea, indigestion, or vomiting, particularly in women or people over 60.
Description: Abdominal pains before a heart attack has an episodic nature, easing and then returning for short periods of time.
Unusual fatigue is one of the main symptoms that indicates an impending heart attack. Extreme exhaustion or unexplained weakness, sometimes for days at a time, can be a symptom of heart disease, especially for women.
Description: Physical or mental activity is not the reason for the fatigue, and it increases by the end of the day. This symptom is quite apparent and will not go unnoticed: sometimes it’s exhausting to perform simple tasks, like making a bed or taking a shower.
Prepare for the Worst and Hope for the Best: Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack
Heart disease remains one of the leading killers in the world.
With obesity levels on the rise and more people being diagnosed with medical conditions than ever before, the strain on our bodies continues to increase.
We are more stressed out than humans have ever been before. We work harder than we ever have before. Our jobs are more demanding and we spend less time at home than we ever did before.
No wonder people are suffering heart attacks all around us. People in their twenties are starting to have heart attacks now.
With anxiety, depression, and dwindling economic status, people are getting older before their time.
But if you know what to look for and you get help fast enough, you can come through a heart attack.
Not everyone survives, but not everyone dies either. There is hope. Here’s what to look for if you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack.
First Signs of a Heart Attack
Heart attacks don’t always come on suddenly and drop you to your knees.
In fact, many people have heart attacks and don’t even realize it, carrying on after a quick burst of pain in their back or neck, chest or shoulder.
You may have some symptoms that aren’t explained leading up to a heart attack, such as unexplained fatigue, anxiety, or fear of impending doom (as we mentioned above).
You may have nausea or vomiting that doesn’t seem to be related to anything. You might also experience shortness of breath off and on without cause.
For instance, if you are seated and suddenly feel out of breath, it could be a sign that a heart attack could occur.
Of course, symptoms can be related to any number of conditions or nothing at all, but if you experience any of these or several together, it might be worth looking into or at least keeping an eye on how you feel in the coming days.
Heart Attacks in Men
Did you know that men sometimes experience different symptoms than women do when they experience a heart attack?
Men tend to experience the classic heart attack symptoms that you might be familiar with including chest pain, shortness of breath, redness in the face, shoulder and neck pain, arm pain, and radiating pain.
Men often feel embarrassed when they are in pain and will try to say that their pain is related to something else, often citing indigestion or something they ate at lunch that was too spicy.
Spicy food doesn’t cause chest pain, so encourage people to seek medical help or if you believe they are having a heart attack, call for emergency medical services. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Heart Attacks in Women
Women often experience heart attacks in different ways than men.
For instance, it is not uncommon to hear a woman say she didn’t even know she was having a heart attack because she experienced back pain, or pain in another area that is not commonly associated with the heart, such as the stomach.
Most people think heart attacks cause chest pain, but everyone experiences pain differently and it’s important to note the differences so you can be prepared.
Women will feel tired and sick to their stomachs and feel confused or disoriented. This is true for men as well, but it often persists in women more than men.
Women tend to live high-stress lives and brush off physical symptoms of stress as fatigue, but it’s important to pay attention to signs that are new or symptoms that are not explained.
Even fatigue is something you should be paying attention to as it can lead to all kinds of other problems, including accidents.
Interesting enough, women are often surveyed about heart attacks and many say that they wouldn’t seek medical help for those symptoms, citing they are too busy to let pain stop them.
What Can You Do About a Heart Attack?
There is not much that can be done to help people overcome a heart attack.
Medical intervention is needed as soon as possible and machines are needed to help the heart survive a heart attack.
If you or someone you know experiences a heart attack, the most effective thing you can do is seek medical attention as soon as possible.
People are often embarrassed or feel ashamed when something is wrong with them, so encourage them to seek help so they can find out for sure if they are okay or not.
Wait with the person while medical help arrives and don’t try to give them anything to eat or drink.
If you call 911, or another emergency service in your area, follow the instructions the operator gives you.
If you have a family history of heart attacks and you think you might be having one or you have early symptoms of a heart attack, don’t ignore it.
Understand your risks to prevent a heart attack
Knowledge is power. And in the case of a heart attack, it can literally save your life.
Research has identified factors that increase a person’s risk for coronary heart disease and heart attack.
The more risk factors you have, the higher your chance of for developing coronary heart disease.
There are 3 different categories of risk factors you need to watch out for:
1. Major risk factors: These factors significantly increase the risk of heart disease.
2. Modifiable risk factors: These are risk factors that can be controlled with medication or lifestyle changes.
3. Contributing risk factors: These factors are correlated with an increase risk of heart disease, but their significance has not been studied yet.
So we’re going to go over each risk factor and what you can do to prevent it:
Major risk factors that you can’t change
Increasing age: The older you are, the more likely you are to have a heart attack. The largest age group who die of heart disease are 65 and over.
Male gender: More men have heart attacks than women.
Heredity: If a child’s parent has heart disease, then it’s more likely they’ll develop heart disease as well.
African-Americans have, on average, higher blood pressure and are at greater risk of heart disease.
Major risk factors you can control
Smoking: Research shows that smoking increases your risk of heart attack. In fact, even people who inhale second-hand smoke are an increased risk.
High blood cholesterol: Higher cholesterol score is correlated as having higher chances of heart attack.
A low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) is considered good for your heart health.
Keep in mind that a diet high in trans fats and saturated fats can increase your LDL cholesterol.
The other kind of cholesterol is high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol.
Higher levels are better. Low levels put you at greater risk of heart disease.
Smoking and being overweight can result in lower HDL cholesterol.
Triglycerides: These are the most common type of fat in the body, and a high triglyceride level combined with a low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol is associated with atherosclerosis.
High blood pressure: Having high blood pressure puts more pressure on the heart making it worker harder.
This can increase your risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and congestive heart failure.
Physical inactivity: An inactive lifestyle can be a significant risk factor for coronary heart disease.
Regular, moderate exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Obesity and being overweight: Excess body weight means the heart works harder to push blood around the body.
This can often co-occur with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Diabetes: The risks are even greater if blood sugar is not well-controlled. At least 68 percent of people with diabetes over 65 years of age die of some form of heart disease.
Other risk factors
Stress: This may be a contributing factor to heart disease. Why? Because people who experience more stress may overeat or start smoking – which are risk factors for heart disease.
Alcohol: Drinking alcohol increases blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease. It can include increase triglycerides fats and affect the heart in different ways.
However, moderate alcohol consumption is associated with some protect benefit.
If you are going to drink, limit yourself to 2 drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.
Diet and nutrition: A healthy diet is important in reducing your risk of heart disease. What you eat can greatly affect your heart health. A diet that emphasizes vegetables, fruits, and whole grains is crucial.
Preventing heart attacks
Healthy living is crucial to increasing your chance of avoiding heart disease. And you’re never too young to start being healthy. The earlier you begin living a lifestyle that’s healthy, the greater the benefit you’ll experience.
For more inspirational articles on mindfulness and self-improvement, like Hack Spirit on Facebook.
New eBook: The Art of Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Living in the Moment
If you're feeling stressed and looking for practical ways to calm down and enjoy life, then check out Hack Spirit’s eBook, The Art of Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Living in the Moment.
It's the perfect introduction to mindfulness. You'll learn what 'mindfulness' really is, the scientific benefits of practicing it daily, and proven techniques to be mindful throughout the day.
A quick message from Lachlan Brown, the founder of Hack Spirit
In 2018, the third year of Hack Spirit, I poured thousands of hours and considerable resources into creating these articles. It's a labor of love and remains free thanks to your patronage. If you found any value in these articles, please consider supporting what I do with a donation. Your support is what helps me to continue creating more Hack Spirit articles. To make a donation, select the amount and click the "donate" button below.