What is a myocardial infarction? Signs and symptoms to know.

paramedic wearing gloves holding defibrillator in gloved hands helping patient with heart attack, widow heart attack

What is a “widowmaker” heart attack? Signs and symptoms of a myocardial infarction (Getty).

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified healthcare practitioner before engaging in physical activity or making any changes to your diet, medications, or lifestyle.

Brad Ross, a former Toronto city official, has just survived a ‘widowmaker’ heart attack – and he’s warning others not to ‘go around and find out’ before he’s gone. too late.

Ross, who was the City of Toronto’s director of communications until January 2023, shared a health update Twitter on Monday, detailing his myocardial infarction – a heart attack commonly known as a “widowmaker”.

In a three-part thread, the former executive director of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) explained how “decisive action and exceptional care” saved his life – “no widow that day”.

“I was home 48 hours later,” he wrote. “A stent, a slew of meds and some rest for a few more weeks” and “a full recovery is very likely.”

Ross, who worked for the City of Toronto and the Toronto Transit Commission between 2000 and 2023, warned his Twitter followers to “check your blood pressure, cholesterol, family history and as hard as it may be, find a way to… ‘stop smoking”.

“And if you ever get those tell-tale symptoms of a heart attack, call 911. Don’t shop around and find out,” he warned.

A “widowmaker” is a massive heart attack that occurs when the left anterior descending artery (LAD) is completely blocked or has a critical blockage. In 2018, “Clerks” director Kevin Smith went viral for sharing his “widow maker” experience, which resulted in a lifestyle change and 105-pound weight loss.

What is a widow’s heart attack – and why is it so deadly?

Like other tissues in the body, the heart muscle needs oxygen-rich blood to function. The coronary arteries run along the outside of the heart and have small branches that supply blood to the heart muscle.

The LAD artery is the left anterior descending artery, which supplies blood to the front of the left side of the heart. Of all the branches that supply blood to the heart muscle, the LAD is generally considered the most important.

“When it comes to coronary heart disease and arteries, it’s location, location, location,” said Dr. Saul Isserow, director of the Vancouver General Hospital Center for Cardiovascular Health and director of cardiology services. at UBC Hospital, in a 2018 interview. “The LAD delivers an enormous amount of blood to the heart muscle.”

“When someone says, ‘I had a heart attack 10 years ago,’ they’re one of the lucky ones.”Dr. Saul Isserow

“People [who have heart attacks] often have no warning signs or symptoms,” he added. “When someone says, ‘I had a heart attack 10 years ago,’ they’re one of the lucky ones.”

In fact, about 50% of first heart attacks are fatal.

While A Widow’s Heart Attack is particularly dangerous, its title is a misnomer; it is just as likely to be a “widowmaker”.

“When the term ‘widowmaker’ is used, it perpetuates the idea that coronary heart disease is primarily a male disease, and it is not,” Isserow said. “In fact, coronary heart disease is the epitome of an equal opportunity disease.

“It is often fatal and can affect people in their prime,” he adds. “You are not protected because you are young.”

Although many people don’t experience any symptoms before a heart attack, Kevin Smith did. He said on social media that he felt nauseous, his chest felt heavy and he started sweating profusely.

Signs and symptoms of a heart attack to watch out for

The other signs of an LAD or other types of heart attack are the same. They may include shortness of breath, lightheadedness or lightheadedness, tiredness, heartburn, abdominal pain, and pressure, tightness, pain or a feeling of squeezing or pain in the chest or arms that may spread to the neck, jaw or back.

Some heart attacks happen out of the blue, while some people experience symptoms hours, days or even weeks in advance. The first sign may be angina pectoris – recurring chest pain caused by a temporary decrease in blood flow to the heart – which is triggered by exertion and alleviated by rest.

When it comes to survival rates, knowing the warning signs is key.

“Over the years, I’ve seen too many tragedies because people didn’t seek medical attention,” Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson said in 2018. literally had a patient who was worried enough that she was having a heart attack – she woke up chest heaviness, sweating and out of breath – that she had unlocked the front door in case the ambulance had to come and then walked over was asleep. We have excellent health care in Canada, but we need access to that care.

Nine out of 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke.

Abramson also noted that nine out of 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke. These risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, lack of exercise, obesity, and diabetes.

Up to 80% of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented by eating a healthy diet, being physically active, limiting alcohol consumption and not smoking.

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