Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in the world, according to the World Health Organization. That is, problems related to the heart kill more people every year than any other cause. Therefore, we must be alert: know what their symptoms are, how to prevent them, and how to identify them.
Heart attacks notify one month in advance
On the road to prevention, a study carried out at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles states that heart attacks warn, many times, up to a month before by means of various signals.
"The findings were entirely unexpected," said Sumeet Chugh, lead author of the study, according to NBC news. "We never thought more than half of these middle-aged men would have had warning signs so long before their cardiac arrests. Previously we thought most people don't have symptoms so we can't do anything about it."
The study was conducted on 567 volunteers who suffered "sudden" cardiac arrest. But, in fact, these heart attacks turned out not to be as sudden as they claimed: in 53 percent of the cases there were warning symptoms beforehand. Among the symptoms, there were some that stood out:
- 56% of the volunteers had chest pain.
- 13% had difficulty breathing.
- 4% had dizziness, fainting or palpitations.
Recognition of symptoms in women
In a previous study, also from the Cedars-Sinai Institute, doctors discovered that many women suffer a heart attack without knowing it. That happens when they do not recognize the symptoms. Being somewhat different from those of men, they are often ignored even by doctors.
"This shows that women should take chest pain seriously, even if they do not have the typical symptoms that we see in men," Dr. Janet Wei, author of the study, said in a report from the institute.
In the study, 340 women were studied through magnetic resonance imaging. To the surprise of the researchers, 8 percent of them had a myocardial scar, a clear sign of damage to the muscle. Among them, a third had never been diagnosed with a heart attack.
"Too often, women are told they do not have a heart problem and are sent to their homes instead of receiving adequate medical care," Wei said. "We are discovering that these women are not being examined because doctors think they are at low risk."
In summary, it is important to know the symptoms and be alert. Many of them appear several weeks before, both in the case of men and in the case of women; knowing them can be the difference between surviving a heart attack or not.
In addition, eating healthy, getting the necessary medical check-ups and avoiding a sedentary life, are excellent ways to take care of cardiovascular health.
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