see also Heart Attack - First Aid
also known as Coronary Thrombosis, Cardiac or Myocardial Infarction
Heart attacks occur when the heart muscle becomes damaged through lack of oxygen. This usually happens when a coronary artery or one of its branches becomes blocked by a blood clot; the technical name for this is coronary thrombosis. The result of coronary thrombosis is cardiac or myocardial infarction, death of part of the heart muscle.
Symptoms are chest pain in centre of chest, radiating up into neck and into both arms; person may also collapse and lose consciousness; other symptoms may be breathlessness, Dizziness, sweats and chills, and nausea - sometimes these symptoms occur without chest pain, in which case episode is called a 'silent infarct'. Severity of chest pain varies, depending on proportion of heart muscle starved of oxygen; some sufferers describe pain as 'crushing', 'agonizing', or 'vice-like', or as a bursting sensation; others merely complain of tightness or constriction. Attack may be quite unexpected or preceded by episodes of Angina, which produces very similar symptoms.
If a heart attack is suspected and person collapses and loses consciousness, contact Emergency Medical Services and give First Aid. Action taken in first 3 minutes may mean difference between life and death. One in three heart attacks is fatal, usually within 2 hours, either because electrical pacemaker mechanism or heart muscle is irretrievably damaged, or because person goes into Shock. Later complications may include Heart Failure, aneurysm, embolism, and Thrombosis. Statistically, however, anyone who survives a first heart attack has a 70 per cent chance of recovering fully and living for at least another 5 years, provided he or she makes certain changes in diet and lifestyle.
Heart attacks occur for different reasons in different people, and for different combinations of reasons. Conditions such as Atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis, High Blood Pressure and Diabetes increase risk; so does Stress and SMOKING, being male (though women are equally at risk after the Menopause), smoking, eating lots of refined carbohydrates and saturated fats, being overweight, doing a sedentary job, driving everywhere rather than walking, taking oral contraceptives (particularly over age of 35) if smokers, and living in areas where water is soft. Heredity also plays a part.
Recent evidence has shown that stress - whether one interprets this as free-floating anxiety, excitement strong emotions, or as mental or physical exhaustion - over-stimulates nerves which control coronary arteries, causing them to go into spasm, slowing blood flow, and creating conditions in which a blood clot is likely to form and cut off blood flow.
Specific remedy to be taken every 3 hours for up to 1 week during recovery frown heart attack
- Left arm still feels numb and weak Rhus tox. 6c
Self-help: Immediately after a heart attack, get plenty of sleep, rest whenever you feel tired, and try to avoid situations which arouse anger, moral indignation, helplessness, or anxiety. After 4—5 weeks your heart will have recovered sufficiently for you to be able to resume most activities, including sexual intercourse, but go gently to begin with. Moderate, regular exercise is something to be aimed for, not feared; try to walk, swim, or cycle at least 20 minutes a day, use the stairs rather than the lift, leave the car keys at home occasionally. STOP SMOKING. Learn some form of relaxation or meditation to relieve stress or treat underlying depression and get rid of bottled-up emotions. Avoid hyperventilation.
For dietary self-help measures see Atherosclerosis