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Heart attack - when the heart sinks

Heart cells die each minute they go without oxygen. Anyone who travels regularly on public transport knows these medical devices at the stations: defibrillators. In an emergency, these can be used even by lay people without previous training. They only need to follow the step-by-step instructions inside the case. Immediate action is absolutely necessary, because in cases of heart attack, every minute counts.

In every heart attack, the pump function of the heart -- often elicited by a narrowing of the blood vessels -- must be restarted as quickly as possible, otherwise it can lead to a loss of ability or heart damage. The treatment options nowadays are typically so broad that the consequences can be minimized, or even completely eliminated. Particular attention is paid during the rehabilitation after a heart attack to the return to normal everyday life and to working. 

Risk factors for a heart attack

The following risk factors rank among most causes of heart attack:

  • Unhealthy diet and subsequently being overweight or having high cholestrol. 
  • Lack of activity
  • Smoking/nicotine
  • Alcohol abuse
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Genetic predisposition (hypercholesterinaemia)

With a healthy diet, sufficient activity, moderate alcohol consumption, and by quitting smoking, the calcification of arteries can be avoided. Take note of the 7 golden rules for a healthy heart. Underlying conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol must be medically treated. Also, it's worth getting regular heart-checks. 

Quickly recognising and treating heart-attacks

For those affected by a heart-attack, the initial minutes and hours of a heart attack can be decisive. If a coronary vessel is blocked, the heart attack can be prevented or at least limited in size and impact if the vessel is reopened as quickly as possible. The chances of survival are larger and lasting damages to the hard are smaller the faster the emergency medical treatment is implemented:

  • Call the emergency number 999.
  • Provide the address (or location), name, and age of the patient.
  • Lay the patient in a comfortable position, with their head slightly elevated.
  • Loosen any tight clothing around the patient's waist or chest.
  • If the patient is conscious, give them small sips of water.
  • Do not give the patient any food or drink if they are unconscious.
  • Stay with the patient and comfort them until help arrives.


Here are some additional things to keep in mind when recognizing and treating a heart attack in Uganda:

  • The symptoms of a heart attack may be different in women than in men. In women, the pain may be more diffuse and may not be as severe.
  • It is important to seek medical attention even if the symptoms are mild. A heart attack can be fatal, even if the symptoms are not severe.
  • The availability of emergency medical services in Uganda may be limited. If you are in a rural area, it may take longer for help to arrive.
  • If you are unable to call the emergency number, ask a bystander to do so.

It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack so that you can seek help quickly. If you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack, do not delay. Call the emergency number and get help immediately.

Here are some of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack:

  • Chest pain or discomfort that may feel like pressure, squeezing, or fullness
  • Pain that spreads to the arms, neck, jaw, or back
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Fainting

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. A heart attack is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not treated promptly.

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