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Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest in Men

(continued)

How can I prevent a heart attack or cardiac arrest? continued...

So how do you reduce the build-up of plaque? You probably already know the answer. It's all the stuff you should be doing (but maybe aren't). You can reduce the build-up if you do the following:

It's so easy to put off making these changes. You keep meaning to eat better and exercise, but somehow it doesn't happen. You stall, you make excuses, and the years slide by. Eventually, some men assume that they're too old for any changes to make a difference, that the die is cast. But that's not true. Studies show that even people who have full-fledged heart disease live longer if they make positive changes in their way of life.

There are other medical conditions that increase your risk of clots – such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. So if you have any of these, you need to control them with lifestyle changes or medication. Some men benefit from taking daily low doses of aspirin, but you should always check with your doctor first.

Sure, some risk factors are beyond your control -- such as increasing age, family history, and the misfortune of being born a man. But even then, making changes to your way of life can still have a positive effect. Your genes are not your destiny! You have the power to create positive life-saving changes.

How are heart attacks and cardiac arrest treated?

Obviously, anyone who's having a heart attack or cardiac arrest needs emergency treatment. You need emergency help if you have symptoms such as any of the following:

  • Pain, squeezing, or discomfort in the chest
  • Pain that radiates into the arms, shoulders, neck, or jaw
  • Shortness of breath, sweating, and nausea
  • Racing heartbeat accompanied by dizziness or nausea
  • Unconsciousness

But what happens after emergency treatment? Unfortunately, if you have a heart attack, you're at higher risk of having more of them as well as having a stroke. If you have had one clot in your body, that almost certainly means that arteries elsewhere have blockages that could trigger clots. So you'll probably need ongoing treatment.

There are a lot of options. Depending on your case, your doctor might recommend blood thinners -- drugs that reduce your blood's tendency to clot. Other drugs can open up your blood vessels, easing your heart's workload. Stents can be surgically implanted to open up a clogged artery. More involved surgery, such as a bypass, can re-channel blood flow away from clogged arteries to new ones. Pacemakers can keep your heart rhythm steady, and ICDs (implantable cardiac defibrillators) can shock an abnormal rhythm back to normal.

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