When we teach about “Cardiovascular Disease” or CVD for short we notice that many people are a little unclear as to the difference between a Heart Attack or Angina. Can a Heart attack kill you? Can Angina be life threatening? Can Angina become a heart attack? What are the symptoms for Angina or a Heart Attack? We will do our best to explain the differences and what to look for to help you understand the potential deadly emergency when dealing with Angina & Heart Attack scenarios.
Angina has been termed as “chest pain or pressure that comes and goes” however it can be much more than that. Also the signs and symptoms of Angina mimic the signs and symptoms of a Heart Attack almost perfectly with only a few subtle differences. The main causes of Angina are also similar to that of a Heart Attack stemming from problems like Cardiovascular Disease, heart disorders or Anemia. The easiest way to explain what Angina is is to picture a clear tube in your mind that lets blood flow through it perfectly, now pinch the tube slightly so that the flow of blood is restricted. If this was within your heart the muscle that has the restricted flow of blood would starve for Blood & Oxygen causing symptoms that mimic that of a heart attack “Angina“. The symptoms however would go away once the demand for Blood & Oxygen has been reduced or assisted with medications. Often Angina will go away with rest in about 10 minutes and or medication assistance
Heart Attacks happen when the heart or specific muscle tissue within the heart can’t get enough Oxygenated Blood. This can lead to the death of the heart muscle and tissue leading to a life threatening emergency, as we all know any body part that can not get enough Blood & Oxygen will eventually die. Using the same description of a plastic tube with blood flowing through it in your mind, now pinch the tube completely off so that no blood can pass through it, the blockage stops the flow of Oxygen rich blood to the heart leading to the eventual death of the tissue termed as a “Heart Attack”
As you can see the difference between Angina and a Heart Attack isn’t much more than an Artery “tube” being restricted and an Artery “tube” being blocked. Angina for many people is your “Wake Up Call” as your body is now telling you that there are some risk factors that you need to take care of before Angina “BECOMES” a Heart Attack.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack & Angina:
- Squeezing Chest Pain -Problems Breathing -Abdominal or lower back pain “More common in women” – Cold sweaty skin -Bluish or paler than normal skin tone -Nausea & Vomiting -“Denial” -Jaw Pain -Left Arm / Shoulder Pain -Feeling of Heart Burn.
- Smoking -High Blood Pressure -Poor Diet “Processed Foods” -High Cholesterol -Obesity -Lack of regular Exercise -High Stress -Gender -Heredity -Age.
How to Help:
- Have the Person rest in a comfortable position and try not to move as much as possible.
- Call 911 “You can not tell the difference between a heart attack or angina” angina will be short lived about 10 minutes, a heart attack will not. Don’t Waste time trying to figure it out “better safe than sorry“.
- Keep the person calm, assist with any medications if they have them and wait for an ambulance or the symptoms to subside.
Weather your daily life or habits fall under some of the risk factors or all of them you should notice that many of these are easily fixed with some changes in personal outlook and removing of bad habits. Everyone want’s to live a long and healthy life, once you know the risks you can take charge of your own life and do what you can to avoid your body failing on you.
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Above all else remember to Protect Yourself!!! Call 911!!! Don’t Wast Time!!!
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