Being able to recognize the signs of a heart attack may be the difference between life and death for seniors, their loved ones and their caregivers. Knowing the risks and reasons behinds heart attacks is must know information for all involved.
How Does It Happen?
A heart attack occurs when the heart is not receiving enough oxygen. This can happen when the stream of oxygen-rich blood is blocked from reaching he heart. Once the oxygen supply gets cut off, even for just a few seconds, heart tissue can become impaired and even cease to function. If the heartbeat starts to become erratic, it can be followed by cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is not equivalent to a heart attack, but can sometimes be precipitated by the original attack. Arteries can become blocked due to a concentrated collection of cholesterol or plaque. If the tension caused by this blockage is too much it can lead ruptures and the destruction of cells.
Why Does It Happen?
Heart attacks can be caused by many factors:
- The heart cannot pump as effectively with age
- The heart’s resting capacity diminishes with age
- High blood pressure
- Coronary artery disease (buildup of plaque/cholesterol)
- Congenital heart defects
When Does It Happen?
Here is a break down of when heart attacks are most likely to occur for men and women:
- The risk for men begins to rise at the age of 45
- The risk for women begins to increase at the age of 55
- Men tend to experience an initial heart attack at the age of 66
- Women tend to experience an initial heart attack at the age of 70
Symptoms of a Heart Attack
The onset of a heart attack can be characterized by any number of symptoms:
- Chest pains
- Shortness of breath
- Pain the arm, neck and jaw
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Cold sweats
If you suspect that you or a loved one is having a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Do not hesitate. Do not wait to see what happens to confirm that it is in fact a heart attack. Make the call.
Once the call has been placed, try your best to calm the person down until the ambulance arrives.
In a situation like this, it is always better to be safe than sorry.