What’s Causing My Chest Pain and Headache

What Is A Heart Attack And How Do You Get One?

A heart attack is a sudden blockage or damage to one of your arteries. When the blood supply to your heart muscle is cut off, it no longer receives enough oxygenated blood flow to work properly. This causes the heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes) inside the heart chamber to die and may cause other organs within the body such as kidneys, lungs, liver and brain to fail. If left untreated, a heart attack can lead to death.

The most common symptom of a heart attack is chest pain that lasts for several hours or even days. Other symptoms include:

Shortness of breath or trouble breathing

Nausea and vomiting (sometimes with blood)

Fatigue, weakness and shakiness (dizziness) are some other possible symptoms. These symptoms usually begin suddenly and last only minutes to hours after the initial event occurs.

How Does A Heart Attack Occur?

There are many reasons why you might experience a heart attack. Some of these reasons include:

Age – Cardiovascular disease is more likely to occur in older adults. People over 65 years old are at higher risk than those under 35 years old. The main risk factors for cardiovascular diseases include age, smoking, high cholesterol levels and being overweight or obese.

Smoking increases the chance of having a heart attack by 50%.

Clogged Arteries – Over time, some of the arteries that carry blood to the heart can become clogged by fat (atheroma). Plaque may also build up on the inner lining of the arteries. When these blockages occur, the amount of oxygenated blood getting to your heart is reduced and a heart attack can occur.

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) – The most common type of cardiovascular disease is known as coronary heart disease (CHD). In this condition the arteries that supply blood to the heart becomes clogged. This can lead to chest pain, and if a clot or pieces of atheroma (plaque) breaks off and travels to the brain, a stroke can occur.

What Are The Risks?

Some people are at greater risk for developing cardiovascular disease compared to others. These risk factors need to be identified and addressed in order to reduce the chances of having a heart attack. Some of these risk factors include:

Smoking

High Cholesterol

Diabetes

Obesity and Being Overweight

High Blood Pressure

Family History of Cardiovascular Disease

Does Everyone Have The Same Symptoms?

The symptoms of a heart attack can vary from person to person depending on their age, gender and health. In younger patients, the symptoms are often different than in older patients. In younger patients, shortness of breath is a common symptom. Chest pain is not a common symptom in younger patients. In older patients, chest pain is more common. Due to this fact, it’s very important for people of all ages to receive a medical check-up on a regular basis so that any potential health problems can be detected at an early stage.

What Should You Do If You Are Experiencing Symptoms?

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, you need to seek out medical attention immediately.

The staff at the hospital will try to determine if you are having a heart attack or if another condition such as an asthma attack or lung infection is causing the problem.

How Is A Heart Attack Treated?

If a heart attack is diagnosed, treatment will begin immediately. The goal of treatment is to restore blood flow as quickly as possible to the areas of the heart that are not receiving blood. This may involve the use of a drug called streptokinase to break down the clot. Other drugs such as tPA or tissue plasminogen activator can also be used. Another treatment option is the use of a catheter to break up or dissolve the clot.

Once the clot has been treated, blood flow is restored, the heart attacks symptoms will generally resolve over the next 24 hours as the body naturally repairs itself. It is also common for patients to experience chest pain, nausea and shortness of breath following treatment. Medication can be used to reduce these symptoms.

Once a heart attack has occurred, the person is considered to be suffering from cardiovascular disease. It is essential that treatment for this condition begin as soon as possible. This generally involves lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, losing weight if overweight and increasing physical activity.

Medication may also be required in order to reduce the chances of another heart attack occurring. Additionally, patients are encouraged to make sure they attend regular medical check-ups with their doctor or cardiologist so that any potential problems can be detected as early as possible.

Most people who go through a heart attack and receive treatment will survive. It is important for family and friends of the patient to remain positive and supportive during this difficult time.

Heart attacks in young people are unusual. If you or someone you know has suffered a heart attack, it is important to seek medical help immediately.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor about your specific situation.

Sources & references used in this article:

Energy drinks: what is all the hype? The dangers of energy drink consumption by M Rath – Journal of the American Academy of Nurse …, 2012 – Wiley Online Library

Cough headache due to craniospinal pressure dissociation by B Williams – Archives of Neurology, 1980 – jamanetwork.com

Cardiac and pulmonary fibrosis during methysergide therapy for headache. by JR Graham – Transactions of the American Clinical and …, 1967 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

The nitric oxide hypothesis of migraine and other vascular headaches by J Olesen, LL Thomsen, LH Lassen, IJ Olesen – Cephalalgia, 1995 – journals.sagepub.com

Basic mechanisms in vascular headache by MA Moskowitz – Neurologic clinics, 1990 – neurologic.theclinics.com

Medically unexplained symptoms in frequent attenders of secondary health care: retrospective cohort study by S Reid, S Wessely, T Crayford, M Hotopf – Bmj, 2001 – bmj.com