All muscles in the human body require oxygen for functioning properly. A heart attack occurs when the heart muscles do not get enough oxygen. The medical term for a heart attack is a myocardial infarction. When the coronary arteries, which are responsible for the delivery of oxygen-containing blood to the heart muscles become severely blocked, they restrict the flow of oxygen to the heart, resulting in a heart attack.
Angina, on the other hand, is not a heart attack but a severe pain in the chest.
The symptoms of a heart attack vary, but are most commonly described as a squeezing, burning, tightness, fullness, or pressure across the chest. This discomfort may quickly spread to the shoulder, arms (especially on the left side), neck, jaw, teeth, earlobes, as well as the upper back between the shoulder blades.
There are two main causes of clogged coronary arteries: Coronary Artery Disease and Coronary Thrombosis.
1. Coronary Artery Disease, also called atherosclerosis, is a gradual process in which fatty layers build up on the inside of the arterial walls. As these layers continues to build up and the artery narrows, there is less room for adequate blood flow.
2. Coronary Thrombosis is a blood clot that lodges inside a coronary artery and prevents the flow of blood.
Angina versus heart attack
Angina (chest pain) is not a heart attack, but may be a warning of an impending heart attack. Angina also occurs when the heart muscle is not receiving enough oxygen. With angina, however, no permanent damage is done to the heart muscles. Angina is most commonly experienced with strenuous physical activity or walking upstairs or uphill. It can also be associated with a stressful event or consuming a large meal. The symptoms of angina are very similar to those of a heart attack, but unlike a heart attack, angina may be relieved by rest and/or a nitroglycerin tablet within 15 minutes.
If someone suffers from a heart attack, there are only a few minutes to act before it is too late. It is vital to know what to do, beforehand.
Perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and artificial respiration (mouth to mouth resuscitation). To be able to do it effectively, prior training and practice on resuscitation dummies are essential. Place the palm of your hand flat on the patient’s chest just over the lower part of the sternum (breast bone) and press it in a pumping motion once or twice by using the other hand. This may make the heart beat again. Along with this, provide artificial respiration.
How to give artificial respiration
- Tilt the head back and lift up the chin.
- Pinch the nostrils shut with two fingers to prevent leakage of air.
- Take a deep breath and seal your own mouth over the person’s mouth.
- Breathe slowly into the person’s mouth – it should take about two seconds to adequately inflate the chest.
- Do this twice.
- Check to see if the chest rises as you breathe into the patient.
- If it does, enough air is being blown in.
- If there is resistance, try to hold the head back further and lift the chin again.
- Repeat this procedure until help arrives or the person starts breathing again.
To prevent a stroke
- Go for a routine health check-up
- Avoid stress
- Quit smoking / alcohol
- Eat sensibly
- Control your blood pressure / diabetes
- Control your weight
- Exercise regularly