Although December is usually a festive time, this is, unfortunately, when people have the most heart attacks. According to Elliot Marshall Antman, a cardiovascular medicine specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, this reflects and change in people’s typical state. People who are on heart medication might stop taking them when they travel. Moreover, the added stress people experience during the holidays could leave them susceptible to heart attacks.
Stress increases the risk of heart attacks
This holiday period could be even more stressful due to the fear of contracting a respiratory disease. Stress can impact the heart in three different ways. First, stress can cause an increased heart rate. It could also increase blood pressure. The third change stress can cause is to increase the production of adrenaline in the body. Increased adrenaline causes coronary vessels, which supply the heart with oxygen and nutrients, to constrict, thus reducing the supply to the heart. These three factors could make people more prone to experiencing a heart attack.
Warning signs for a heart attack
A heart attack is characterized by chest discomfort, which can radiate to the arm, jaw, neck, and shoulders. The pain gradually increases in intensity until it reaches its peak and dissipates slowly.
The chest discomfort often comes with palpitations, nausea, light-headedness, and sweating. These signs all point towards something wrong and could guide you to getting urgent help. If these symptoms persist for over 10 minutes, it is crucial to seek medical attention. A typical heart attack lasts for 20 minutes or longer.
If a patient experiences these symptoms, it is important not to ignore them and instead seek help. Some patients might try taking an antacid and hoping the pain would disappear. However, doctors highly advise not to do this. Instead, visit a hospital immediately. Most times, this would mean calling 911 and getting an ambulance.
It is also possible to have a heart attack with no chest pain. The pain could instead be in another part of the body. Furthermore, the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions like diabetes might not experience any chest discomfort. They might have shortness of breath, fatigue, and sweating.