Even Experts Can Be Fooled By Silent Heart Attacks

Posted on January 21, 2021 by Martin Oaks under Community, Hello world, Resources
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Bill Schaffer, a retired Emergency Medical Technician, did not recognize the symptoms of his heart problems.  The stabbing pain in his back was something Schaffer thought a chiropractor could address.  The indigestion was just part of being 57 years old.

 

Then, one weekend, reality hit like a lightning strike: “I started feeling funny prior to eating dinner,” he told writer Jennifer Wolff. “The pain was starting to build.  It traveled to my shoulder and arms, and radiated to my jaw.  That’s when I put the game together and knew I was having a heart attack.”

 

The high octane scene where actors clutch their chests, scream, and thud on the floor is a celluloid heart attack, not an everyday one.  The genuine article can start with a slight pressure in the chest, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, cold sweats, and discomfort in other areas of the body.

 

These so-called silent heart attack symptoms need immediate attention.

 

According to the latest numbers, every year over 800,000 Americans die from heart disease. That’s one in every three deaths, easily the leading killer of both men and women in this country.

The totality of the statistics are chilling: over 1.5 million heart attacks occur yearly.  Of those, roughly 600,000 are a first time event — and, as in the case of Bill Schaffer, 47 percent of the victims do not realize what’s happening is potentially lethal.

 

Point being, anyone experiencing these “mild” symptoms (so mild they fooled a seasoned

EMT like Bill Schaffer) should get expeditious attention.

 

The risk factors for heart problems are familiar: carrying too much weight, smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet, and excessive drinking.  During this era of Covid-19, where more people are staying home, some of these risks are naturally heightened: a more sedentary lifestyle encourages unhealthy behavior.

 

It is important to underscore that risk factors are simply that: risk factors.  A friend of ours recently did experience the “hollywood heart attack” — a sudden, unexpected onset which led to a quick death.  This friend was in terrific shape, never ate sugar, drank moderately, and did not smoke. There were no warning signs.  Still, this event is in the minority — and not a justification for an insalubrious lifestyle.

 

Blood pressure can sometimes take the backseat in the discussion of heart disease, but make no mistake about it, high blood pressure is a major player.  Given that one in three adults is battling high blood pressure — it is estimated that about half the American population has their BP under reasonable control—it is the proverbial time bomb.  High BP contributes to more than 500,000 deaths a year, a healthcare cost of $131 billion to the country.

 

To be clear, high blood pressure is not heart disease, but it is a key factor in heart disease.

 

A second point of clarification:  there is a distinction between a heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest.

 

A heart attack, more technically, myocardial infarction, occurs when oxygen rich blood is blocked in an artery and cut off from the heart.  Triggered by malfunction, cardiac arrest essentially disrupts the pumping of the heart and swiftly—in a matter of seconds — causes the victim to lose consciousness.

 

The two are obviously related: cardiac arrest does not materialize with every heart attack, but it can take place following the attack or during the recovery process.  Chances for survival depend on the individual and the immediacy of treatment.  Calling 911 and applying CPR until medical professionals arrive offer the best hope in this dire circumstance.

 

Another sad number: one out of every 10 individuals who have heart attacks do perish within the first year of recovery.

 

Surviving a heart attack is guaranteed to be life changing.  Aside from dealing with the trauma (fear of another heart attack, unpleasant memories that persist), serious lifestyle alterations are almost always necessary.  Diet, exercise, attention to medical management are just a few of these alterations.

 

For any more information, please contact the American Heart Association.  Donations are money well spent.

 

PHOTO CREDIT:

https://lefildecaro. com/guide/finding-the-right-heart-doctor-for-the-best-heart-treatments-and- care/

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