Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, it claims 17.9 million lives each year, with four out of five deaths due to heart attack symptoms and strokes. A heart attack, the so-called ‘silent killer’, can affect anyone, especially those aged 50 and over. However, there has been an increase in the number of heart attack cases among young adults, which is worrying.
How does a heart attack occur?
A heart attack refers to a lack of nutrient-rich blood and oxygen in the heart. It occurs when an artery that sends blood and oxygen to the heart is blocked. A number of factors can lead to a heart attack, including fatty, cholesterol-containing deposits in the arteries of the heart. When these fatty deposits rupture, it forms a blood clot, which blocks the arteries and prevents blood flow to various parts of the body, causing a heart attack.
It can be different for men and women
Although there is no gender difference in heart attacks, there may be differences in symptoms between men and women.
Chest pain and pressure are one of the first symptoms that can occur in both men and women. Men are more likely to experience shortness of breath, jaw and shoulder pain, and nausea.
Women are more likely to get other symptoms such as nausea, sweating, vomiting, and neck, jaw, throat, stomach, or back pain.
Another reason why men and women experience different symptoms is that men have more plaque in the large arteries that supply blood to the heart, while women are more prone to a build-up in the small arteries of the heart. It alters the course of symptoms in men and women.
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Symptoms that appear one month before a heart attack in women
According to the report, which analyzed data from more than 500 women who survived a heart attack, about 95 percent said they noticed unusual physical changes in the months before the incident.
The most common symptoms include fatigue and insomnia. It has also been found that most men are likely to experience chest pain during a heart attack, while women are more likely to experience shortness of breath.
Symptoms that are often ignored
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends paying attention to your body and calling for emergency medical help if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Chest discomfort
- Upper body pain and discomfort. These include areas such as one or both arms, back, neck, jaw, or abdomen.
- Cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness
What are the main causes of a heart attack?
A heart attack is a direct or indirect result of unhealthy lifestyle habits that include smoking, alcohol consumption, poor diet, lack of physical activity, and more. Poor lifestyle choices often lead to long-term health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and other vascular problems, which over time increase your risk of a heart attack.