Have you had a heart attack? Do you know what it means?
Heart attack may happen when one or more of the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart [Arteries] get blocked. The blockage affects the blood supply to the heart and since it is a muscle too it needs blood to function. The blockage may be due to different causes but most commonly it is due to plaque formation on the walls of the arteries.
As we age the walls of the arteries become thinner and less elastic. Over time, there may be fatty tissue that may be deposited on the walls leading to narrowing of the arteries. The plaque itself may break and cause scar tissue or clots in the blood that block the arteries.
If the blood supply is reduced the heart muscle starts to die resulting in chest pains. Medical terms for a heart attack are Myocardial infarction, Coronary thrombosis or coronary occlusion.
What causes a heart attack?
According to the Heart Foundation ,there are certain risk factors that predispose a person to developing a heart problem. Some risks cannot be changed such as:
- Family history
Age: older age group
Gender: Men are more at risk. Women develop increased risk after menopause
Ehtnic back ground
However, there are various other risk factors that can be changed/controlled:
High cholesterol due to bad eating habits
High blood pressure
Depression or isolation
How do I know I am suffering from a heart attack?
There are different ways how a heart attack may present and it’s not always serious. It’s important to recognise the signs as no 2 people are the same. What presents in one person may not necessarily present with the same intensity in another. The following signs may help you identify the first signs and get help immediately:
- Discomfort/heaviness or pain in the centre of the chest. This may also feel like tightness
- Discomfort in the left arm, upper back or jaw. It may give rise to a feeling of suffocation.
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat
- Dizziness or light headed or nauseous.
How Exercise Physiologist can help after a heart attack?
Have you already suffered an attack? There is no reason to worry. The biggest change is to alter your lifestyle, become more active and eat healthy. You are not alone in your journey. It’s important to seek help from the right professionals and this is where Exercise Physiologists come into the picture. They are skilled professionals who fully assess you and prescribe tailor made exercise programs to suit your lifestyle.
According to the Heart Foundation, regular low to moderate-intensity exercise for people with Coronary Heart Disease [CHD] prevents the blood vessels narrowing further, prevents blood clotting, increases delivery of blood to the heart and helps maintain a normal heart rhythm. Exercise Physiologists use equipment such as a heart rate monitor and teach you ways to monitor your heart rate. They will show you just the right kind and amount of exercise to do to recover. Most importantly the exercise programs are modifiable. They may be done in a gym, pool or at home!