Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack. That’s more than 2,000 heart attacks per day. Also known as a myocardial infarction, occurs when blood is prevented from reaching the heart. This is the result of plaque buildup in the arteries from fats, cholesterol, and other harmful substances. As blood flow is inhibited, the heart can become damaged, or portions of it may be destroyed.

Controlling Risk Factors

There are many risk factors that can contribute to the likelihood of having a heart attack, some of which are beyond anyone’s control. For example, men over 45 and women who are 55 or older are far more likely to experience a heart attack. Additionally, family history and genetics can play a part.

Yet there are many factors that you can control and, through lifestyle changes, you can reduce the danger to your heart and your life. As high cholesterol contributes to the risk of heart attacks, eating a healthier diet can help. You may also need medication from a doctor to get your cholesterol under control. Quitting smoking and stopping recreational drug use can also have a big impact on your risks of having a heart attack.

Furthermore, talk to your doctor about starting a new exercise program. Regular physical activity can promote better heart health.

Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

While the signs and symptoms of a heart attack vary, these are the most common indications that you’re experiencing a heart attack:

  • Ache, pressure, tightness, or squeezing sensation in the chest or arms, which may spread to the jaw, neck, or back
  • Nausea
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Cold sweats
  • Dizziness

What to Do in the Event of a Heart Attack

If you recognize these symptoms, act quickly and call 9-1-1 for medical assistance. Many heart attacks prove fatal simply because people ignore these early warning signs. By the time they do seek help, it’s too late. If you’re unable to call for help for any reason, ask someone else to call for emergency services.

When you do see a doctor, they may prescribe nitroglycerin, either temporarily or as a long-term treatment. Similarly, your doctor may advise you to take chewable aspirin to help reduce the symptoms of a heart attack. In any case, you should avoid taking any medication, unless instructed to do so by your doctor.

A heart attack is a serious condition, even though the symptoms may not seem alarming at first. By changing your lifestyle and following your doctor’s instructions, you can reduce the likelihood of having a heart attack. Follow healthy heart advice, especially if you’ve already had one heart attack.