Neglecting or delaying identifying symptoms can result in disastrous consequences like death. Symptom detection, prompt treatment and management can save lives. The dictum is to identify every chest pain no matter what the age is
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The alarming rise in heart attack cases across the country has become a cause for concern not just in older individuals but also among the youth due to current lifestyles and unhealthy habits. Advancements in medical technology have led to early diagnosis, better treatments and survival rates. Dr Vidya Suratkal, cardiologist, Lilavati Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai lists down alarming symptoms of heart attack for timely treatment.
In recent times, it has become increasingly common for younger individuals to suffer from heart attacks or angina pains owing to poorer lifestyle choices. These choices include engaging in activities like smoking and consuming more processed food regularly while getting insufficient sleep and leading more sedentary lives.
The detrimental effects of work-related stress and high environmental pollution further contribute to cardiac problems. Additionally, there is a notable trend of women facing cardiac issues characterised by symptoms similar to those experienced during a heart attack. This trend can be attributed to various factors including fast-paced urbanisation leading to heightened stress levels at work alongside pressures and expectations from family and peers. Habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption coupled with early menopause onset and diabetes exacerbate these cardiac problems in women.
Symptoms of a heart attack
There are 2 types of pain - classical or typical pain and atypical pain. Classical pain is commonly confused with acidity. Pain may be felt in the upper part of the abdomen radiating to the chest associated with burping. In the case of a heart attack, this pain goes on worsening and is associated with nausea, vomiting, a choking feeling in the throat, jaw pain, chest discomfort, heaviness in the chest and pain that starts in the chest or the back and radiates to the left arm, associated with restlessness and sweating and exhaustion.
Many a time, people experience only right-sided chest pain and may think is unrelated to the heart because it is on the right side. Remember, pain could occur in any part of the body where there are heart nerves distributed. For instance, a person can have elbow pain while climbing stairs. Sometimes the pain could occur only in the wrists, or interscapular region between the two shoulder blades. Alertness and awareness are two important things among doctors and the common man to detect cardiac problems without any delay.
Importance of picking up heart attack symptoms early
Neglecting or delaying identifying symptoms can result in disastrous consequences like death. Timely treatment will mitigate the size of the heart attack, reduce muscle damage, preserve the pumping function of the heart and prevent rhythm disturbance (irregular Heart Rate). Sometimes, an irregular heartbeat can result in sudden cardiac death
The essence is early symptom detection, prompt treatment and management. The dictum is to respect every chest pain no matter what the age is.
The diagnosis and treatment
The person having a heart attack should be immediately taken to a nearby hospital having state-of-the-art facilities without any delay to an emergency room. After doing an Electrocardiogram (ECG), an IV line will be inserted and a troponin I test may also be done. This is a sensitive test that helps to detect if the patient is developing a heart attack in confusing cases. The bedside echocardiography is carried out depending on the condition.
The patient may be shifted to a specially designed modern ICU if the heart attack is acute. Crash cart, defibrillator and Ventilator should be available in the emergency room. Immediate medication should be started to reduce the pain and size of the infarct. Medication to dissolve clots in the blocked vessels may be used as the case may be. Later, an emergency angioplasty may be performed depending on the case, in a Cath lab to reduce the size of the heart attack within the golden hour. Early detection and early treatment in the form of medical and intervention are important to reduce complications of a heart attack. The patient will also be advised for cardiac rehabilitation for further recovery. The patient and their family members are counselled regarding any doubts & updated about the progress & management regularly.
Cardiac rehabilitation is essential
Cardiac rehabilitation is crucial. After being discharged, patients often have concerns about returning to their normal routines. They may wonder about their walking abilities, fitness levels, suitable exercises, and the timeline for a full recovery. The rehabilitation process is tailored to each patient's specific needs. For instance, one patient may have a low pumping capacity while another may have undergone bypass surgery. Therefore, a personalised cardiac rehabilitation protocol is developed for each individual. A skilled team of cardiologists and physiotherapists work together to create an exercise plan that addresses the patient's specific condition. This not only boosts the patient's confidence but also allows for gradual monitoring and increased exercise capacity until they can eventually exercise independently. The duration of the recovery process varies depending on the seriousness of the heart attack. It may take several months for patients to regain their health and resume normal activities following treatment and cardiac rehabilitation.
Stay vigilant and conscious about cardiac symptoms and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Make sure to prioritise cardiac screenings. Those aged 25 and above should schedule regular health check-ups and consultations with a doctor every month to monitor cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels. Starting at the age of 35, it is recommended to regularly undergo regular treadmill or stress tests to assess heart health. Seeking counselling from the age of 25 onwards can also be beneficial in preventing heart attacks. In high-risk cases, Calcium scoring of coronaries and CT coronary angiography is recommended after consultation with a cardiologist.