February is Heart Month and this week we are raising awareness of heart attack symptoms and heart failure. The week highlights the startling statistic that every five minutes someone is admitted to hospital in the UK with a heart attack.
Unfortunately, however, many people who never go to hospital because they don’t recognise what’s happening to them, and some of these people don’t survive. So, it is important that everybody understands what a heart attack might be and what to do about it, so that we can help as many people as possible, the quicker the better.
Not everybody experiences a heart attack in the same way. Generally, people believe that the signs of a heart attack are a severe heavy or tight chest pain which would go down the left arm. While this is true for many patients, for some people it feels like:
- Pain in the jaw, neck, arms or back
- A difficulty in breathing
- Nauseous with sweating
- Feeling generally unwell
It is no wonder to health care experts that people often miss the signs of a heart attack!
If you think you might be having a heart attack, don’t wait. Call 999. Rapid treatment can make the difference between a full recovery and long-lasting damage to the heart, and even prevent dying suddenly from the heart attack.
If you are worried about your heart, there are few simple things you can do to cut the risk of a heart attack.
- Stop smoking! This is the biggest single thing that can help. By quitting, you can half the risk of a heart attack in the future. You will also protect those who live with you from the damaging effects of cigarette smoke (and save money in the process!).
- Lose weight. If you are overweight, weight loss can also make you feel better, be less short of breath and lower your blood pressure. Dieting usually needs to be helped with….
- Exercising a bit more. People who are active are 35% less likely to have a heart attack in the future. Its best to start slow, and as you become fitter, the easier it will get, and the weight will start to move.
- Eat more healthy foods (and less fatty foods). Try eating a bit less red meat and processed foods which may be high in cholesterol and salt (which puts your blood pressure up) and trying to eat more fruit and vegetables (which are high in fibre).
- Don’t drink too much alcohol. Its best to stick to no more than 14 units of alcohol per week. For many people this helps with weight loss as well, as most alcoholic drinks have more calories than you would think.
If you are worried about a loved one who might be at risk of heart disease, talk to them about it, and perhaps show them this information. Work out how you might be able to support them get healthier, even if it means you get healthier with them!
You could even learn how to save a life with resuscitation: Learn CPR in 15 minutes