National Heart Month – Calling Attention to the Warning Signs of Heart-related Conditions

While 14 February is earmarked for celebrating affairs of the heart, February is also National Heart Month, which aims to call attention to the warning signs of heart-related conditions which, according to the British Heart Foundation, one in two of us will experience in our lifetime. National Heart Month is an opportunity to arm ourselves with a greater awareness of circulatory disorders such as heart attacks, cardiac arrest, vascular dementia and heart disease, so that we can better prepare ourselves should we encounter these conditions in our lives.

Heart attacks
Heart attacks occur when the blood supply to the heart muscle is somehow cut off and is often caused by a blocked coronary artery. Heart attacks can starve the heart muscle of oxygen, which may leave it permanently damaged. Symptoms of heart attacks can include chest pain, the sensation of pain travelling to other parts of the body from the chest outwards (including your left arm, but note either or both arms, upper back and jaw can also be affected), shortness of breath, sweating and nausea. 

Cardiac arrest
Cardiac arrest is when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body. While blood is not moving around the body, the brain becomes starved of oxygen and may suffer damage as a result. This will often cause a person to collapse or become unconscious, very quickly become grey and stop breathing. Both heart attacks and cardiac arrest are medical emergencies and you should call 999 if you believe you or someone else is experiencing either.

Vascular dementia
Vascular dementia occurs when the blood vessels within the brain leak or become blocked, resulting in the loss of brain cells which cannot be reached. This condition causes problems with mental abilities such as concentration, communication and memory, it may also cause personality and mood changes as well as physical symptoms such as tremors or balancing difficulties. These symptoms can start suddenly or gradually, although they tend to worsen over time. There is currently no way to reverse the loss of brain cells prior to the diagnosis of vascular dementia. 

Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
This is an umbrella term encompassing an array of heart and circulatory disorders including strokes, coronary heart disease, which reduces or stops the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart and can lead to heart attacks, and vascular dementia. CVD is one of the primary causes of death and disability in the UK and some of the risk factors for developing CVD are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a family history of CVD.

Lanyon Bowdler acknowledges the difficulties and worry heart-related conditions can place on someone, and this is only worsened where there is a suggestion of substandard medical care, including warning signs being missed. If you believe yourself or a loved one has been affected by insufficient care regarding a circulatory disorder, our Clinical Negligence team are on hand to discuss this with you further.  

For more information about the above conditions, please visit the links below: 

Heart attacks:

https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/conditions/heart-attack/symptoms;

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heart-attack/;  

Cardiac arrest:

https://heartresearch.org.uk/cardiac-arrest/;

https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/conditions/cardiac-arrest; 

Vascular dementia:

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/types-dementia/vascular-dementia;

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/dementia/vascular-dementia#:~:text=Vascular%20dementia%20is%20the%20second,blocked%20by%20a%20blood%

20clot;

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vascular-dementia/; 

Cardiovascular disease:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cardiovascular-disease/;

https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/conditions/cardiovascular-heart-disease.