This Morning: Dr Chris discusses heart disease
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A heart attack is a serious medical emergency whereby the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot. Heart attack symptoms must be acted on as soon as they appear to minimise the damage inflicted on the heart muscle. Unfortunately, ignorance of the range of heart attack symptoms causes life-threatening delays.
Most people are familiar with chest pain but the symptoms extend beyond this hallmark symptom.
As health body Heart Foundation (HF), explains, “you may feel less obvious symptoms, such as a burning feeling in your chest and shortness of breath”.
According to the HF, sometimes you may have no “warning sign symptoms” at all.
“In fact, your doctor may even discover that you have had a silent heart attack.”
Nonetheless, it is vital that you heed the warning signs of a heart attack.
“It’s important you get medical attention immediately. Don’t worry about wasting paramedics’ time – a heart attack is a medical emergency,” explains the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
Then you should:
- Call 999 for an ambulance
- Sit down and stay calm
- Take a 300mg aspirin if you have one within reach
- Wait for the paramedics.
“You dramatically reduce your chance of survival if you don’t call 999 straight away,” warns the BHF.
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How to prevent a heart attack
Making lifestyle changes is the most effective way to prevent having a heart attack (or having another heart attack).
Eating an unhealthy diet that is high in fat is one of the worst offenders.
The NHS explains: “Eating an unhealthy diet that is high in fat will make hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) worse and increase your risk of a heart attack.”
The health body continues: “Continuing to eat high-fat foods will cause more fatty plaques to build up in your arteries.”
As it explains, this is because fatty foods contain an unhealthy type of cholesterol.
The health body is referring to LDL cholesterol – a harmful type of cholesterol that gathers on the inside of your artery walls.
Eating foods high in saturated fat promotes the build-up of LDL cholesterol.
Saturated fat is the kind of fat found in butter, lard, ghee, fatty meats and cheese.
“But just replacing saturated fat with refined carbohydrates, like sugary foods and drinks, won’t improve your health,” notes the BHF.
“Replacing it with unsaturated fats such as oily fish, nuts, or vegetable oils like rapeseed or sunflower oil, does seem to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.”
Many of the components can be found in a Mediterranean-style diet.
The Mediterranean diet is high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods.
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