When you have a high blood pressure problem, and you suddenly feel chest pain, do you panic and worry that it could have been a heart attack?
A heart attack is one of the scariest things that could happen to someone who has hypertension (high blood pressure). Besides, most heart attacks without medical intervention can lead to death.
What Is A Heart Attack?
A heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI) is a condition in which the heart cells die due to an obstruction in the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart.
This obstruction is often caused by blood clots or by a buildup of plaque, cholesterol deposits, on the walls of the blood vessels. As a result, the obstruction deprives your heart from getting sufficient blood and oxygen, which are vital for the survival of the heart cells. Yes, your heart, just like other organs in your body, needs blood supply to function and survive.
A heart attack can be fatal; therefore, watch for warning signs so you will know when to seek medical help. To prevent over reacting to signs and symptoms that are not related to a heart attack use the following guide:
Warning Signs Of A Heart Attack:
• Squeezing, a tight band around your chest or heavy pressure on chest
• Shortness of breath with chest pain
• Other signs that accompany the chest pain in heart attack are lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, fainting, palpitations (irregular, fast and loud heartbeat) and profuse sweating
Overall, the most common warning sign of a heart attack is chest pain, which may last longer than 20 minutes. This chest pain is not relieved by rest or by nitroglycerin, a medicine that relaxes the blood vessels. Sometimes, there can be a little or no chest pain at all. In other cases, there are no signs and symptoms, which is called a “silent heart attack.”
5 Tips To Significantly Lower Your Heart Attack Risk
There are factors that increase your risk of having a heart attack such as sedentary lifestyle, hereditary, stress, smoking, unhealthy diet, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and age. However, there are five preventive measures you may use to avoid a heart attack:
1. Exercise three times a week
Regular brisk walking for 30 minutes, three times a week, is the easiest cardio (heart) exercise. Jogging, swimming or playing a team sport would also work. Some would settle with the treadmill. However, it would be best if you choose a type of exercise that you find enjoyable. The more you love what you’re doing, the higher the chance you would make it part of your routine.
2. Get eight hours of sleep each night
Sleeping for eight hours is basic, yet many of us have a hard time complying. With all the hectic schedules, deadlines and other distractions at night like electronic gadgets (i.e. cellphone, laptop, etc.), which can’t be kept out of the bedroom, it is really difficult to achieve that healthy sleep requirement.
However, it is not impossible to start creating an 8-hour sleep routine. There are two important things you may do to get started. First, sleep before midnight. Second, keep your bedroom exclusively for sleeping.
What time do you usually wake up? If you wake up 5am, count backwards to determine what time you should go to sleep at night to complete the 8-hour requirement. For a 5am wake up time, you need to go to sleep around 9pm.
Keep your bedroom exclusively for sleeping. This means that you keep items that have nothing to do with rest and sleeping out of the bedroom. This includes all of your electronic gadgets, work documents, and any other distractions.
Keep in mind that sleep deprivation, particularly sleeping less than five hours each night, can double your risk of death from heart disease.
3. Monitor and lower your cholesterol level
Cholesterol level is an important indicator whether you are at high risk of having a heart attack or other cardiovascular disease. Men and women who are 35-45 years old and older must have frequent cholesterol screening called a lipid profile. In this blood test, the levels of your total cholesterol, bad cholesterol or LDL (low-density lipoprotein), good cholesterol or HDL (high-density lipoprotein), and triglycerides are measured.
Lipid Profile Result
When your LDL, triglycerides or total cholesterol are increased, your chances of having heart disease increases. Moreover, your good cholesterol (HDL) must not be lower than 50mg/dL, as the good cholesterol provides protection to your heart. It prevents the buildup of plaque in the wall of the blood vessels, which is a primary cause of heart attack.
Have a healthy diet, regular exercise and stop smoking are the three classic yet effective interventions you may do to keep your cholesterol at a healthy level. Reduce your intake of foods that contains saturated fat and are high in cholesterol such as butter, lard, high-fat dairy products, fatty red meat and chicken skin.
4. Keep your blood pressure within normal range
Persistently high blood pressure measurement increases your risk of having a heart attack. Have a regular blood pressure check up to find out if yours is within normal range, which is between 110/70 -130/90 mmHg.
To control your blood pressure, you need to lose weight and avoid obesity (overweight). Limit your alcohol intake too. Moreover, avoid eating too much processed foods, as they are high in sodium (salt). Use spices and herbs for food flavoring instead of more salt and artificial flavors. Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low fat content foods.
A sedentary lifestyle is another contributing factor that may increase your blood pressure. So, exercise regularly. You may refer to tip #1 for cardio exercises or ask your health practitioner for an exercise regimen that suits your health status.
Last but not least, quit smoking because nicotine in cigarettes increases the heart rate and blood pressure.
5. Reduce stress
Start developing a routine to relax because stress in any form increases your risk of heart attack. When you are stressed out, a part of your brain called the hypothalamus sends signals to your adrenal glands to release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones increase your heart rate and blood pressure in an attempt to boost your energy supply during a stressful situation. Therefore, a constant exposure to stress will result in a persistent high blood pressure level, which is one of the major triggers of a heart attack.
Some of the common sources of stress are work, unhappy relationships, illness, financial difficulty, traumatic events, emotional problems, death of a family member, and other major life events. Socialization with family and friends after work can help relieve stress. Meditation, exercise, and adequate sleep are great stress relievers too.
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