Heart Attack Prevention & My Personal Story
I remember it like it was yesterday… it was 2005, I was a senior in high school, it was a beautiful afternoon, I was out enjoying the day with a friend… and life was good. *Not a worry in the world* Then I received one of the most terrifying phone calls I have ever had… my mother calling from the hospital, trying to explain to me through her sobs that my dad had a heart attack and was in surgery. The air suddenly seemed thinner and the ground not steady, the tears were uncontrollable as I tried desperately to console my mother and assure her that dad was going to be OK.
Thinking about that moment brings tears to my eyes and reminds me of how close we came to losing a very special man in our lives.
My dad ended up surviving one minor heart attack and a major heart attack that came shortly after the first. He explained to us the excruciating pain, how it was like nothing he had felt before. He had taken probably a dozen aspirin throughout the time he was having the heart attack, in which the doctors said saved his life. It’s amazing to think that something so small… something that sits in my medicine cabinet so insignificantly… actually saved my dad’s life.
My dad went on to turn his life around, completely changing his eating habits. I look at pictures from a decade ago and can’t believe how great he looks now! He is probably one of the most active and driven people I’ve known. He’s that man that will sit for a moment, see a smidgen of paint chipping from the wall… and moments later he’ll be painting the entire room! With all that he has done to change his life, I was confident in the idea that he was no longer prone to another heart attack.
Unfortunately that was not true and I received that dreaded call once again this weekend…
Do you realize how much technology has changed in one decade, how much the medical field has learned to respond faster to heart attacks? My dad experienced that same unbearable pain over the weekend, but fortunately he knew exactly what it was and did not hesitate to be driven to the hospital. My parent’s local hospital had him airlifted and brought to the closest major hospital. In the time that it took my mother to drive to the hospital (45 minutes) they had already fixed the problem and had him resting in bed. Apparently the stent (a stent is a small mesh tube that’s used to treat narrow or weak arteries) from his last surgery had torn away, causing his artery to close. My dad is still here today because of the fast response that occurred in this situation!
Now that I have shared my story with you I would like to help educate you on heart attacks so that if ever in a similar situation, you will know how to respond.
Know the Signs
Here is a wonderful image that was provided from the American Heart Association
There is a reason they have the last paragraph in bold! DO NOT HESITATE!!! In a situation such as this, time is so incredibly important and you must get to the hospital at the first sign of a heart attack!
Most importantly, learn how you can change your lifestyle to help prevent a heart attack:
- Stop smoking
- Choose good nutrition
- Reduce blood cholesterol
- Lower high blood pressure
- Be physically active every day
- Aim for a healthy weight
- Manage diabetes
- Reduce stress
- Limit alcohol
Please do not wait until it’s too late to change your life or encourage a loved in order to prevent a heart attack. I found a list on The Heart Foundation website that includes very important facts regarding heart attacks. I hope will entice you to take my advice seriously.
- Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States, claiming approximately 1 million lives annually.
- Every 33 seconds someone in the United States dies from cardiovascular disease which is roughly the equivalent of a September 11th-like tragedy repeating itself every 24 hours, 365 days a year.
- More die of heart disease than of AIDS and all cancers combined.
- By 2020, heart disease will be the leading cause of death throughout the world.
- This year more than 920,000 Americans will have a heart attack; nearly half of them will occur without prior symptoms or warning signs.
- 250,000 Americans die annually of Sudden Cardiac Death – 680 every day of the year.
- One-half of the victims of Sudden Cardiac Death are under the age of 65.
- An estimated 80 million Americans have one or more types of heart disease.
- About 8.9 million Americans have chest pain (angina) caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle which occurs when the coronary arteries become blocked with a build-up of plaque.
- Currently about 7.9 million Americans are alive who have had a heart attack.
- In 2008, the total cost of cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease, hypertensive disease, heart failure and stroke) in the U.S. was estimated at $448.5 billion. (This includes direct costs such as costs of doctors, hospital services, medications, etc., and indirect costs such as lost productivity.) In comparison, the estimated economic cost of cancer in 2007 was $219 billion.