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Heart attacks happen when an artery supplying your heart with blood and oxygen becomes blocked, usually by a build-up of fatty plaques called cholesterol. Heart attacks fall under the umbrella of cardiovascular disease (CVD), which generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels.
As the NHS explained, shortness of breath may signify someone is having a heart attack.
Worryingly, it may also signify heart failure, which can develop after a heart attack if the heart muscle is extensively damaged, explained the health site.
According to the American Heart Association: “Blood backs up in the pulmonary veins (the vessels that return blood from the lungs to the heart) because the heart can’t keep up with the supply.
“This causes fluid to leak into the lungs.”
As Professor Peter Weissberg, former Medical Director of the BHF and Honorary Consultant Cardiologist to Addenbrooke’s Hospital explained, it is easy to dismiss breathlessness as a sign of being unfit.
But feeling out of breath while doing everyday activities, especially if a person hasn’t experienced this before, could be a sign of a potentially serious heart condition.
“It’s important to take breathlessness seriously and talk to your doctor as soon as possible, warned Professor Weissberg.
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Other symptoms of heart attacks include:
- Chest pain – the chest can feel like it’s being pressed or squeezed by a heavy object, and pain can radiate from the chest to the jaw, neck, arms and back
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling weak or lightheaded, or both
- An overwhelming feeling of anxiety
Heart attacks are caused by the blood supply to the heart being suddenly interrupted, said the NHS.
The health site continued: “Without this supply, heart muscles may be damaged and begin to die.
“Without treatment, the heart muscles will experience irreversible damage.
“If a large portion of the heart is damaged in this way, the heart stops beating (known as a cardiac arrest), resulting in death.”
Eating an unhealthy diet that is high in fat is absolute no-no, according to the NHS.
As the health body explains, a high-fat diet will make hardening of the arteries worse and increase your risk of a heart attack.
Instead, you should aim to follow a Mediterranean-style diet, which is high in unsaturated fat, says the health body.
A Mediterranean-style diet consists of eating more bread, fruit, vegetables and fish, and less meat.
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