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- Winter health
- Bradford's healthy hearts
- Self-care and prevention
- Mental health
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Heart attacks are more common in winter. This may be because cold snaps increase blood pressure and put more strain on the heart. Your heart also has to work harder to maintain body heat when it’s cold.
A heart attack is a serious medical emergency in which the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot. Lack of blood to the heart can seriously damage the heart muscle.
Symptoms can include:
- chest pain: the chest can feel like it is being pressed or squeezed by a heavy object, and pain can radiate from the chest to the jaw, neck, arms and back
- shortness of breath
- feeling weak and/or lightheaded
- overwhelming feeling of anxiety.
It is important to stress that not everyone experiences severe chest pain; often the pain can be mild and mistaken for indigestion.
It is the combination of symptoms that is important in determining whether a person is having a heart attack, and not the severity of chest pain.
If you suspect that you or someone you know is having a heart attack, dial 999 and ask for an ambulance.
If the person suffering from a suspected heart attack is not allergic to aspirin and it is easily available, give them a tablet (ideally 300mg) to slowly chew and then swallow while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. The aspirin will help to thin the blood and restore blood supply to the heart.
Treatment for a heart attack will depend on how serious it is. Two main treatments are:
- using medication to dissolve blood clots – this is known as thrombolysis
- surgery to help restore blood to the heart.
Stock up on medicine
If you have a heart condition and take medication, make sure you have enough stock to take you through the winter months when it might be more difficult getting out and about due to bad weather. You should also ensure you have enough medicine over the Christmas holiday period when your local GP surgery or pharmacy may be closed.
It is important to also try to stay warm in your home. Keep the main rooms you use at 21°C (70°F) and use a hot water bottle or electric blanket to keep warm in bed. Wrap up warmly when you go out and wear a hat, scarf and gloves.
For more information on heart conditions visit the Bradford's Healthy Hearts website.