Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are now considered the leading cause of deaths in India. According to the Global Burden of Disease study, our CVD mortality rate of 272 per 100 000 population is actually higher than the global average! This coronary disease epidemic seems to be going largely unnoticed by us. Research by the Centre for Chronic Disease Control and Public Health Foundation of India observes that the “accelerated buildup, the early age of disease onset in the population, and the high case fatality rate” are especially alarming.
A heart attack may look like it has come out of the blue, but there are actually a number of signs that can warn you well in advance if you are alert. So, knowing what to watch out for can prevent a full- fledged cardiac attack. A recent Harvard study says that there were no preceding symptoms only in case of 25 percent. Early detection of coronary disease symptoms is key to saving your dad and other loved ones from a potentially life-threatening attack. What are the danger signs? Coronary disease is used as an umbrella term for problems like heart arrhythmia, irregularities, coronary failure, artery disease, infections associated with the heart as well as birth defects.
The following early symptoms should sound the alert for some form of heart disease. However, they can also result from other health problems, so you surely need to consult a doctor.
Temporary symptoms that seem unconnected and simply inconvenient may result from early stages of heart disease. They include:
1. Shortness of breath, or dyspnea, after moderate physical exertion, which is often the first indication of coronary disease
2. Chest pain or discomfort (angina) that goes away after 30 minutes or a few hours
3. Heart arrhythmia and irregular heartbeat
4. Unexplained pain in the jaw, stomach, upper torso and back, lasting for a few minutes, or sporadic.
5. Lightheaded or dizzy spells due to lack of proper blood circulation
6. Extreme weakness, especially in older adults
7. Tingling, swelling or numbness in the arm, generally the left one
These signs can indicate the narrowing of blood vessels. Additionally, infection-related heart disease can also produce skin rashes, fever or cough. People who suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure are particularly prone to heart attacks and should be extra careful.
Heart Attack First Aid
According to surveys, on an average basis, people wait for three hours after noticing symptoms of a heart attack before consulting a doctor or sending for help. Heart attack victims often die before getting medical help. The best chance of minimizing damage and survival lies in how fast a patient can get to the hospital.
If you think you or someone else is having a heart attack, call for help immediately because it is a medical emergency.
Move the person into a comfortable position, preferably sitting on the floor and leaning against a wall. Administer heart medication like nitroglycerin, if they usually take it.
If they lose responsiveness or the pain does not subside promptly with rest or within 3 minutes of taking the drug, ask for emergency medical help. You can also begin CPR on the person, especially if it is a child.
Tips for heart health
1. Quit smoking. It doubles the chances of developing heart problems.
2. Keep your blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol under control and be active.
3. Manage your weight if you are obese or overweight.
4. Cut down on saturated fats, red meat, and sugar.
5. Start eating more fish, fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
6. Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.
The key to maintaining a healthy heart and preventing cardiovascular diseases is regulation and vigilance of your body. Take regular tests to keep track of your health markers and follow the advice of your physician. Nothing beats a healthy heart.