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What's the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest?

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The 66-year-old, who has also won three Golden Globe awards for his television work, started to feel that something wasn’t quite right after paddle boarding one morning with his wife back in 2008. On return to his Hawaiian home Grammer was immediately taken to a hospital, where medical professionals initially stated that he had suffered a “mild” heart attack. Yet speaking about the ordeal a few weeks later, Grammer himself recalled a very different event.

At the time, Stan Rosenfield a spokesperson for Grammer said: “Grammer was immediately taken to an area hospital where it was determined that he had a mild heart attack.

“He will be released from the hospital early this week.”

Yet when speaking to Entertainment Tonight approximately seven weeks after the news of his heart troubles emerged, Grammar said that he had nearly died due to his heart stopping.

“They had to blast me twice and get me started all over again, amoxicillin and paracetamol while pregnant ” he told the news programme.

“I did think, ‘Oh, gosh. I have got to hang on. I’ve got too much junk I’ve got to take care of. I’ve got to take care of the family.’”

The actor didn’t hold back any details when describing the horror of the experience. He added: “[It felt] like somebody was actually trying to tear my chest apart with, like, the jaws of life.”

With no prior heart-related health trouble in the past, Grammer did spend a portion of time in a rehab centre after becoming addicted to alcohol. After his release, the star then became addicted to cocaine.

At the time of his heart attack, Grammer had also just heard the news that his newest sitcom, Back to You, was being cancelled by the Fox network after just one season.

Commenting on the axing of his newest show, Grammar commented: “Obviously you play the hand you’re dealt, and it has been a very interesting hand lately; it has been tough.”

The Cleveland Clinic explains that heart attacks occur because of a blockage in one of the blood vessels that supply blood to your heart. Blockages commonly occur because of plaque – a sticky substance that can build up on the insides of your arteries.

Sometimes, plaque deposits inside the coronary arteries can break open or rupture, and a blood clot can get stuck where the rupture occurs. If this clot then blocks the artery it can deprive the heart of blood and oxygen, thus causing a heart attack.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) adds that other less common causes of a heart attack include:

  • Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD)
  • Drug misuse
  • Hypoxia (a sudden drop in oxygen levels in the body).

Suffering from a heart attack is a medical emergency, as a prolonged lack of blood to the heart may seriously damage the heart muscle, putting someone’s life in danger.

That’s why it is crucial to recognise the symptoms of a heart attack, which can include:

  • Chest pain – the chest can feel like it’s being pressed or squeezed by a heavy object, and pain can radiate from the chest to the jaw, neck, arms and back
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling weak or lightheaded, or both
  • An overwhelming feeling of anxiety.

However, the BHF adds that it is possible to have a heart attack without experiencing all of these symptoms, as everyone experiences pain differently. Typically, elderly people and those with diabetes experience symptoms differently.

The NHS adds that it is the combination of symptoms that’s important in determining whether a person is having a heart attack and not the severity of chest pain.

As a heart attack is such a serious condition, while waiting for an ambulance it is important to do the following in order to help you or an individual having a heart attack as much as possible:

  1. Sit down and stay calm
  2. Take a 300mg aspirin if you have one within reach
  3. Wait for the paramedics.

Once being taken to hospital, treatment is used to get blood flowing to your heart muscle again. This can reduce the amount of permanent damage to your heart and potentially save a life. Emergency treatment can involve:

  • Coronary angioplasty re-opens the blocked coronary artery by inserting one or more stents. This helps keep the narrowed artery open.
  • Thrombolysis involves giving you “clot-busting” medicine to dissolve the blood clot that’s blocking the coronary artery.
  • Coronary bypass surgery helps to restore normal blood flow by using a blood vessel from your leg, arm or chest in your heart to bypass the blocked artery.

The recovery period after a heart attack will depend on the amount of damage that has been done to the muscle. Most people will stay in hospital for about two to five days, and be well enough to return to work after two weeks.

In order to reduce the risk of a heart attack occurring again, individuals can make some changes. These include:

  • Eating healthily
  • Being physically active
  • Keeping to a healthy weight and lose weight if necessary
  • Not smoking
  • Cutting down on alcohol
  • Controlling high blood pressure
  • Controlling cholesterol levels
  • Controlling blood sugar levels (if you have diabetes).

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