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Recognizing Heart Attack Risks Is Crucial

The realization that heart attacks can be stopped before they happen has become more apparent in recent years, with blood pressure and cholesterol becoming a regular check for many. While it is obvious that the quicker these symptoms are realized, the more likely it is to avoid risk of heart disease, recent research has suggested that there is a negative correlation between the recognition of possible symptoms and actually seeking treatment for them. Yvette Brazier of Medical News Today writes: “Patients are putting their own heart health at risk by taking too long to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack and not seeking immediate treatment, according to a study published in the journal of the American College of Cardiology, JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions.”

Following a heart attack, there is a certain window of time during which treatment should be applied for optimal healing and continual heart health. Recognizing the symptoms of an attack before it occurs, or the early signs as it begins can help ensure that patients are treated in time to reap the most benefit.


Recent Studies


Medical professionals call the time between a heart attack and treatment, door to balloon time. The latest study, performed by Dr. Mehran of the Zena and Michael A. Weiner Cardiovascular Institute, focuses on this period of time, and the differences seen in those treated with varying door to balloon timings. To gain insight on patient information needed for the study, researchers used records from a trial for another cardiovascular project. More than 2,000 patient files were placed into three categories. Patients who arrived and were treated in less than two hours, patients who arrived and were treated within two to four hours and patients who arrived and were treated in more than four hours.


What they found concluded their original hypothesis that the door to balloon time was pertinent to a successful recuperation. Those patients who were in the middle category with more than two hours between arrival and treatment at the hospital were found to not have full blood flow restored. This unfortunately caused death in these patients to occur within only a few years. The recognition of these facts could mean more lives saved in the future.


Invisible Symptoms


Sometimes heart disease isn’t as easy to pick out as chest pain and trouble breathing. Having a silent ischemia can be just as deadly, but lack the initial signs which will lead you to see a physician. This occurs when oxygen to the heart becomes minimal or is stopped altogether, causing a heart attack.


Some men and women can suffer from heart attacks without ever knowing they have had one; in some cases, more than one. This can cause scarring to heart tissue and arteries, and make it more likely that future heart disease will continue to occur. Silent attacks of this kind are said to be more common in women than men, perhaps due to being diagnosed as other problems. Dr. Ekery, a cardiologist, is quoted by Go Red For Women as saying the following regarding these missed cases: “People who have these so-called silent heart attacks are more likely to have non-specific and subtle symptoms, such as indigestion or a case of the flu, or they may think that they strained a muscle in their chest or their upper back. It also may not be discomfort in the chest, it may be in the jaw or the upper back or arms. Some folks have prolonged and excessive fatigue that is unexplained. Those are some of the less specific symptoms for a heart attack, but ones that people may ignore or attribute to something else.”


Often times, heart attacks can be mistaken for panic attacks or anxiety because it can cause tightness and shortness of breath rather than an outright aching pain. This makes it easier to miss heart disease, and prolongs the door to balloon process mentioned above. Sometimes heart attacks aren’t recognized until a yearly checkup takes place and things such as blood pressure and other heart health tests determine damage.


Preventing Heart Disease Before It Occurs


Many people are aware that a healthy lifestyle can be a massive factor in lessening the likelihood of a heart attack, but there are other factors that can contribute to this risk. Some things are unavoidable, such as age, gender, and even ethnicity, while others can be avoided. Men 45 and older are more likely to have heart troubles, while for women the risk gets higher at 55. Those who have high blood pressure and diabetes are also more prone to heart attacks than those with clean bills of health. The Mayo Clinic reports: “If your siblings, parents or grandparents have had early heart attacks (by age 55 for male relatives and by age 65 for female relatives), you may be at increased risk.”


Smoking cigarettes, the use of stimulant drugs, and even high rates of alcohol consumption can also be factors in the possibility of heart disease becoming a future issue in your life. Speak to your doctor if any of the above symptoms, or risk factors have become present in your life.

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