High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition whereby the force of the blood circulating or flowing through the blood vessels is abnormally high. Basically, this means that the pressure reading will be higher than the normal systolic pressure ranging from 110 to 120 while the diastolic readings range from 70 to 80. Any reading below or above these is considered either too low or too high which in most cases, is life-threatening.
During a heart attack, blood pressure plays a significant role. Constant high blood pressure that is uncontrolled often causes damage to the arteries and heart tissue over time eventually causing a heart attack. The excessive strain and damage that occurs as a result of hypertension lead to narrowing of the coronary arteries responsible for pumping blood to the heart. This occurs when there is a buildup of cholesterol, fat and other substances known as plaque. The process through which plaque accumulates on the arteries is referred to as atherosclerosis.
As arteries widen with plaque, chances of blood clots forming on them increase. Once blood clots or plaque accumulates in the artery, blood flow through the blood vessel is interfered with hence starving the heart and muscles with the nutrients and oxygen they need. This gradual damage of the heart muscle due to insufficient nutrients and oxygen is what leads to a heart attack, better known as myocardial infarction. According to research, hypertension doesn’t cause symptoms physically unless it gradually progresses.
The most common symptom of a heart attack is usually pain or pressure on one’s chest. A hypertensive crisis accompanied by chest pain causes a lot of discomforts and should be treated with the utmost care. During a heart attack, one may experience pain across the front of the chest, neck, upper back, or one or both arms. Pain tends to be sharp and stabbing or might manifest as a dull nagging ache. In addition to the pain, some people often experience chest pressure which might feel like a tight squeezing band encircling the chest. Once these symptoms occur, it is imperative that they are evaluated as possibly heart-related and treated accordingly.
Trouble breathing is also a common symptom of a heart attack. Once there is high blood pressure in the pulmonary artery, a condition known as pulmonary hypertension is experienced which leads to shortness of breath. This is characterized by an individual struggling to breathe or get enough air into their lungs. Shallow, labored breathing might occur suddenly during a heart attack or might start off mildly but progress over time. Besides this, other symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite, severe headache and nose bleeding.
The most effective way to reduce the risk of contracting heart diseases, unless generic, is by changing one’s lifestyle. This can be demonstrated by quitting destructive habits such as smoking. Changing one’s diet to reduce cholesterol intake and exercising regularly will come in handy in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In the case of generic cases, one should ensure that they go through their family history to know whether they are at a higher risk of getting a heart attack or not.