A heart attack happens when something blocks the blood flow to your heart so it can’t get the oxygen it needs.

Heart disease describes a range of conditions that affect your heart. 

Heart diseases include:

  • Blood vessel disease, such as coronary artery disease
  • Heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias)
  • Heart defects you’re born with (congenital heart defects)
  • Heart valve disease
  • The disease of the heart muscle
  • Heart infection

Heart Attack Symptoms

The symptoms of heart disease depend on the specific type a person has. Also, some heart conditions cause no symptoms at all.

That said, the following symptoms may indicate a heart problem:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue and lightheadedness
  • Swelling due to fluid retention, 

In children, the symptoms of a congenital heart defect may include cyanosis, or a blue tinge to the skin, and an inability to exercise.

Some signs and symptoms that could indicate heart attack include:

  • chest pain
  • breathlessness
  • heart palpitations
  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • sweating
  • arm, jaw, back, or leg pain
  • a choking sensation
  • swollen ankles
  • fatigue
  • an irregular heartbeat

Heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest, which is when the heart stops and the body can no longer function. A person needs immediate medical attention if they have any symptoms of a heart attack.

When Do I Do if Someone Else Has a Heart Attack?

Start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) if someone goes into cardiac arrest, which is when the heartbeat has stopped and the person isn’t responsive. CPR doesn’t restart the heart, but it keeps the person alive until medical help arrives.

An easy-to-use device called an AED (automated external defibrillator) can be used by almost anyone to treat cardiac arrest. This device works by shocking the heart back into a normal rhythm.

Here’s how to use an AED:

1. Check responsiveness

  • For an adult or older child, shout and shake the person to confirm whether they’re unconscious. Do not use AED on a conscious person.
  • For an infant or young child, pinch their skin. Never shake a young child.
  • Check breathing and pulse. If absent or uneven, prepare to use the AED as soon as possible.

2. Prepare to use AED

  • Make sure the person is in a dry area and away from puddles of water.
  • Check for body piercings or outline of an implanted medical device, such as a pacemaker or implantable defibrillator.
  • AED pads must be placed at least 1 inch away from piercings or implanted devices.

3. Use AED

For newborns, infants, and children up to age 8, use a pediatric AED, if possible. If not, use an adult AED.

  • Turn on the AED.
  • Wipe the chest dry.
  • Attach pads.
  • Plug-in connector, if necessary.
  • Make sure no one is touching the person.
  • Push the “Analyze” button.
  • If a shock is advised, check again to make sure no one is touching the person.
  • Push the “Shock” button.
  • Start or resume continue compressions.
  • Follow AED prompts.

4. Continue CPR

  • After 2 minutes of CPR, check the person’s heart rhythm. If it’s still absent or uneven, give them another shock.
  • If a shock isn’t needed, continue CPR until emergency help arrives or the person begins to move.
  • Stay with the person until help arrives.

How Can a Physiotherapist Help?

If you have heart disease or heart failure, a physiotherapist can work with you to help keep it from getting worse. Physiotherapists also can help people reduce their risk of developing heart disease. Working with a physiotherapist can improve your:

  • Exercise capacity.
  • Strength and endurance.
  • Overall health and well-being.

Physiotherapists design personalized treatment plans for each person’s needs, challenges, and goals. They help you:

  • Improve your mobility.
  • Manage pain and other chronic conditions.
  • Recover from or prevent injury and chronic disease.

Physiotherapists are movement experts who improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. 

You can contact Physio Centers of Africa directly for an evaluation. 


​​+234 907 301 6023

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