Alarming Symptoms And Risk Factors Of Widowmaker, The Deadliest Type Of A Heart Attack

Date April 10, 2018

If you watch the hit TV show This Is Us, you are probably familiar with the term “widowmaker.” Jack Pearson, a character from the show, died from a widowmaker heart attack shortly after he rescued his family from a fire. In Jack’s case, smoke inhalation was the trigger of the deadly heart attack. But, contrary to what its name suggests, widowmaker heart attacks can affect people of both genders and they aren’t always deadly. Also, they may be triggered by other things, not only by inhaling carbon monoxide.

Widowmaker heart attack is a common term used to describe a complete blockage in the left descending artery (LAD). LAD is one of the three major heart arteries, and it does most of the job of supplying the heart with blood. If the artery becomes blocked, a big portion of the heart can become damaged very quickly, and the event can quickly escalate into a cardiac arrest. Compared to blockages affecting the other two arteries, a blockage in the left descending artery is usually the deadliest.

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As we mentioned above, widowmaker heart attacks aren’t always deadly. To illustrate the point: Bob Harper, a well-known personal trainer, survived this type of a heart attack. He suddenly felt unwell during a workout, but someone who was around at the moment realized what was going on and performed CPR. Harper is lucky, because the gym also has an automated external defibrillator (AED). Harper received prompt first aid – minutes after the onset of symptoms – and quickly got to the hospital.

When a heart attack occurs, you have to act fast. So we would like to remind you about the symptoms of this potentially fatal event, which include the following:

  • sharp pain and tightness in the chest;
  • pain that radiates to the upper back, shoulder, arm, neck, or jaw;
  • shortness of breath, which may occur even if you haven’t been active;
  • sweating;
  • nausea and indigestion;
  • sudden weakness;
  • lightheadedness and dizziness.

READ ALSO: Broken Heart Syndrome: The Symptoms And How To Handle Them

Sometimes, people who are having a heart attack don’t feel pain in the chest, which is the most common and recognizable symptom. This is why some people who suffered a heart attack don’t seek help immediately.

Some people are more likely than others to have a heart attack, including the so-called “widowmaker” type. Factors that increase the risk include smoking, a family or personal history of heart attacks, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and poorly controlled diabetes.

It’s possible to survive a heart attack, even a widowmaker if you get timely treatment. If you or someone around you has symptoms that suggest a heart attack , call 911 right away.

To lower your risk of getting a heart attack, get treatment for any conditions that increase the risk of the event, exercise regularly, avoid smoking, and eat a healthy diet.

Source: Michigan Medicine, Orlando Health, TIME

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This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.