Are you caring for someone who has had a heart attack?

Are you caring for someone who has had a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack may be caused by either atherosclerosis or a coronary artery spasm.

There are specific blood vessels that deliver oxygen to the heart. These are called coronary arteries. Think of these blood vessels as a highway and the red blood cells as the cars travelling through the vessels. The oxygen we need travels inside the cars and is delivered to the heart.

A heart attack may be caused by either atherosclerosis or a coronary artery spasm.

Atherosclerosis

When plaque begins to build-up inside a blood vessel, the passage through the vessel narrows. This is called atherosclerosis. Think of this as a lane closure on the highway. When there are lane closures on the highway, fewer cars can pass through a particular area. This results in less oxygen being delivered to the heart.

Even worse, the highway may need to be closed due to a more severe blockage. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada reports that “More than 9 out of 10 heart attacks are caused by atherosclerosis.”

Coronary Artery Spasm

Heart attacks may also occur due to a spasm of one of these blood vessels. This is called a coronary artery spasm.

When the heart is not receiving oxygen, either due to atherosclerosis or a coronary artery spasm, it is called a heart attack. This can be fatal for a person who does not receive immediate medical attention.

For more information on the causes of a heart attack including the signs and symptoms and how to react, please visit The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada’s Emergency signs webpage.

What can you do to help the person in your care?

It is important that the person you are caring for follows the prescribed heart attack recovery plan, including the lifestyle modifications that have been encouraged by the health care professional.

These lifestyle modifications are meant to decrease the risk of another heart attack (or stroke) and may include increasing physical activity, consuming more nutritious foods that are low in sodium (salt), saturated fats and trans-fats, quitting smoking, decreasing cholesterol levels, and managing both blood pressure and stress. Visit The Heart and Stoke Foundation of Canada’s Get Healthy webpage for more information.

*Please note that the person in your care should consult with their health care provider before engaging in any physical activity.

All medications should be taken on time and as prescribed.

It is also important to maintain follow-up appointments so that any necessary adjustments to the plan of care can be made. If the person you are caring for is willing, you can assist them by accompanying them to these medical appointments.

Please note that this article is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice.

At Elizz, we provide caregiver support for you and home care services for those who depend on you. Elizz is a Canadian company powered by Saint Elizabeth, a national not-for-profit health care organization that has been caring for Canadians since 1908.

You might also like our Elizz article entitled Caregiver Guide to Stroke Signs and Symptoms.

 

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