Community Blog

What is a Heart Attack?

By Denise Roskamp

Hearing that a loved one has had a heart attack is frightening. Unfortunately, heart attacks are more common than anyone would like them to be. Over a million people in the United States have heart attacks every year. If your parent has had a heart attack, you may be wondering just what that means. You might also be concerned about your parent having a second heart attack since people who have had a heart attack are at a higher risk for having another.

What Happens in the Heart During a Heart Attack

The heart is a muscle and requires oxygen to work properly. During a heart attack, the heart is deprived of oxygen because the blood flow to the heart has been cut off or seriously reduced. The blood flow to the heart is obstructed due to plaque forming on arteries over time. Sometimes plaque breaks loose and a blood clot forms around it, cutting of the flow of blood. Oxygen deprivation causes damage to the heart muscle and leads to a heart attack.

Symptoms to Watch For

The faster someone gets help when a heart attack occurs, the less damage the heart is likely to sustain. For that reason, knowing the symptoms of a heart attack can be crucial to the person’s survival and recovery. Symptoms of heart attack include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort that last for several minutes or that disappears and then returns. The pain usually occurs in the center or left side of the chest.
  • A feeling of discomfort that radiates into the jaw, back, left arm or both arms, throat, upper belly, or shoulders.
  • Difficulty breathing during rest or light activity. Sometimes this is the only symptom of a heart attack.
  • A cold sweat.
  • Light-headedness or dizziness.
  • A feeling of weakness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Fatigue that lasts over several days.
  • Irregular or fast heartbeat.

How Senior Care Can Help with Heart Attack Recovery

The recovery period after a heart attack can be lengthy. There are often several follow-up medical appointments to doctors and therapists. Your parent’s doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes, including a change in the way your parent eats, which may require visits to a dietician. In addition, your parent will probably begin taking new medications. Your parent may have trouble doing some of their normal activities or the doctor may recommend that they not do certain things until they have fully recovered. If your parent lives alone, hiring a senior care provider to assist your parent in their home can lead to a more successful recovery. Senior care providers can drive your parent to appointments, remind them to take medications, help with tasks around the house, and be a comforting presence in the difficult and anxious days following a heart attack.

Sources
https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/heartattack
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/AboutHeartAttacks/About-Heart-Attacks_UCM_002038_Article.jsp#.WSb2u2jyvIU
http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/heart-disease-heart-attacks#1
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-attack/basics/definition/con-20019520
https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/heartattack/lifeafter

IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE ARE CONSIDERING SENIOR CARE IN SOUTHBOROUGH, MA, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT HOME HELPERS TODAY. CALL NOW (508) 545-0164.