Severe pain ripples through your chest. The same pain hits your arm, neck and jaw. Are you suffering from a heart attack? Knowing the symptoms of a heart attack, and calling for emergency medical help quickly, could save your life.

Your risk of suffering a heart attack rise as you age. That’s why the medical professionals at Highland Park Emergency Center in Dallas recommend that you study both the symptoms and causes of heart attacks.

A heart attack occurs when one or more of the arteries delivering blood to the heart are blocked. This prevents the oxygen in blood from reaching the heart muscle. This damages the heart.

Cardiac arrest, often confused with a heart attack, is different but just as scary and potentially deadly. It occurs when the heart's lower chambers, known as the ventricles, suddenly develop a rapid and irregular rhythm. This condition, known as ventricular fibrillation, causes the ventricles to quiver rather than contract fully. This transforms the heart into a pump that can no longer supply the body and brain with oxygen.

People who are having a heart attack experience:

  • severe chest pain
  • pain in the neck, arm or jaw
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness
  • sweating

Both men and women face a greater risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest as they age. The Mayo Clinic says that men who are 45 and older and women who are 55 and older are more likely to suffer a heart attack. The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation says that cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death among adults over the age of 40.

While you can't do anything about getting older, you can take other steps to lessen your chances of suffering a heart attack. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the following steps can boost your heart's health:

  • Quit smoking: Tobacco use increases the risk of heart disease and heart attack.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Diets high in saturated fats and cholesterol are bad for your heart. Eat a nutritious diet heavy with vegetables, fruit, lean meats and nuts.
  • Exercise: Physical inactivity is not only related to heart disease, it can also lead to other risk factors for heart attacks and cardiac arrest. These include high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.
  • Don't drink excessively: Consuming too much alcohol leads to an increase in blood pressure, which increases the risk for heart disease.

You should visit your physician on a regular basis as you age -yearly physicals are an important part of any health plan.

And, if you do think you might be having a heart attack, be sure that you or someone else calls 911 immediately. You need care at your local emergency room.

The next time you or someone you know has an emergency, go to Highland Park Emergency Center at 5150 Lemmon Ave., Suite 108, in Dallas. No appointments are necessary.

Highland Park Emergency Center

5150 Lemmon Ave Suite 108
Dallas, Texas 75209

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