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Health > Heart Attack

Heart Attack

Heart Attack Fact Sheet

A Heart Attack happens when something has blocked the flow of blood into your heart, and a part of your heart has died.

What to look for

  • a dull or heavy pain in the center of the chest
  • breathlessness, dizziness, nausea, chills, sweating, weak pulse.
  • cold and clammy skin, grey pallor, a severe appearance of illness.
  • fainting

Sometimes there are no symptoms.
The heart relies on its own blood supply to provide it with oxygen and nutrients so it can function properly. If the supply of oxygen to a certain part of the heart is interrupted, that area of the heart stops functioning. If an attack lasts too long, the starved heart tissue dies. This event defines heart attack, otherwise known as myocardial infarction.
If you think you are about to have an attack never wait until it is over before seeking help. Most attacks last for several hours. The signs of the heart attack may be no more than breathlessness, faintness, or nausea; and in some cases there are no symptoms. But most heart attacks produce some pain. The pain of a severe attack has been likened to a giant fist enclosing and squeezing the heart. If the attack is mild, it may be mistaken for heartburn. The pain may be constant or intermittent.
Usually heart attack patients have been suffering angina previous to the attack (the pain is very similar and brought on by exertion or excitement and lasts only a few minutes and the heart is not permanently damaged).
Sometimes there are no warning signs.
There are possible complications that can occur while in hospital with a heart attack - stroke, congestive heart failure, formation of blood clots in the legs or heart, and aneurism in a weakened heart chamber.
It will usually take around three months to fully recover from a heart attack.


Most heart attacks are the result of coronary heart disease, condition that clogs arteries with fatty deposits. It may also be blood clots which form on top of the fatty deposits which actually cause the heart attack.
Certain triggers will lead to a heart attack in certain persons. The predominant ones are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, smoking, and an inactive lifestyle. Stress, exertion and excitement can act as triggers for an attack.
Men over the age of 50 with a family history of heart disease are predisposed to heart attack.

Traditional Treatment

This condition must be treated by traditional medicine. Alternative remedies are however helpful in patient recovery and prevention.
Heart attack victims are usually hospitalised in special coronary care units for at least 3 days. Special drug therapy is used and the patient may have to be operated on.
The patient will be monitored closely for a period of time and administered the appropriate medications and drugs.
Gentle exercise is recommended while patients are recovering, but nothing that requires too much exertion.
Long-term recovery from heart attack requires extreme adjustments: Habits such as smoking, heavy drinking, and eating high-fat foods have to go.
As a preventive measure, most heart attack survivors take a daily aspirin tablet to thin the blood. Other drugs may also be prescribed, depending on the individual case.

Alternative Choices

Herbal Therapies - Of the many herbs used to treat chronic heart conditions, hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) is perhaps most valuable as it dilates coronary arteries and improves the function in the heart. Hawthorn also is thought to speed recovery from an attack.
There are other herbs that are used to treat heart conditions, such as raw garlic, lime flowers (linden) and nettle. For more information, see high blood pressure, Blood Clots, and Cholesterol Problems.
Bach Flower Remedies - Try willow and holly essences - 4 drops on the tongue, up to 4 times daily.


Regular aerobic exercise greatly enhances efforts to prevent or recover from heart attack. However you must be extremely careful not to over exert yourself. Exercise under supervision while in the recovery phase.
Reducing stress by training the mind and body to relax may help prevent heart attack and can aid in recovery.

Dietary Considerations

to reduce the possibility of further heart attacks, it is advisable to eat a low fat diet with very little salt, sugar, alcohol in order to reduce cholesterol, control blood pressure, and weight. Eating magnesium-rich foods such as nuts, beans, bran, fish, and dark green vegetables may help prevent heart attack.
Antioxidants supposedly help with heart disease as well as supplements such as B complex, C, E, chromium, calcium, potassium, Evening Primrose Oil, and garlic.

Personal Care

  • You can still be fairly active - just be careful.
  • Do not take birth-control pills if you have had a heart attack
  • Get a pet. Pet owners recover more quickly from heart attacks


  • Try to relax and control negative volatile emotions such as anger.
  • Talk with your doctor about taking an aspirin daily.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you or someone you are with shows signs of a heart attack.
  • you suffer from angina (chest pain) and begin to experience pain that is similar but does not respond to medication; this may indicate that a heart attack is under way.
  • your angina attacks become more frequent and severe
  • you are taking aspirin to prevent heart attack and your stool appears black and tarry.

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