Trevor Francis: Symptoms of a heart attack, what to do in a cardiac arrest and how to prevent heart problems

Trevor Francis, who scored Forest’s winning goal in the 1979 European Cup final has died aged 69. (Picture: Allsport/Getty Images/Hulton Archive)Trevor Francis, who scored Forest’s winning goal in the 1979 European Cup final has died aged 69. (Picture: Allsport/Getty Images/Hulton Archive)
Trevor Francis, who scored Forest’s winning goal in the 1979 European Cup final has died aged 69. (Picture: Allsport/Getty Images/Hulton Archive) | Allsport/Getty Images/Hulton Archive
The death of Trevor Francis has saddened the sporting community.

According to his family, Francis "had a heart attack at his apartment" in an incident that came as a huge shock to his loved ones.

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"We are all very upset. He was a legendary footballer but he was also an extremely nice person," the statement added.

Trevor Francis, who scored Forest’s winning goal in the 1979 European Cup final, died of a heart attack age 69. (Picture: Allsport/Getty Images/Hulton Archive)Trevor Francis, who scored Forest’s winning goal in the 1979 European Cup final, died of a heart attack age 69. (Picture: Allsport/Getty Images/Hulton Archive)
Trevor Francis, who scored Forest’s winning goal in the 1979 European Cup final, died of a heart attack age 69. (Picture: Allsport/Getty Images/Hulton Archive) | Allsport/Getty Images/Hulton Archive

Heart attacks can affect people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds - sometimes regardless of personal health. Therefore, it's important to be well-informed about the symptoms of heart attacks and, more importantly, how to respond when someone experiences cardiac arrest.

A heart attack, or cardiac arrest, occurs when there is a sudden blockage in the coronary arteries, which are responsible for supplying blood to the heart muscles. The reduced blood flow deprives the heart of oxygen and nutrients, leading to damage and, if not treated promptly, potential failure of the heart muscle.

Symptoms of a heart attack

Chest discomfort: The most common symptom of a heart attack is discomfort or pain in the center of the chest. The sensation may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain that lasts for several minutes.

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Pain in other areas: The pain may radiate to other parts of the upper body, such as the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach. Some individuals, especially women, might experience atypical pain or discomfort in these areas rather than the chest.

Shortness of breath: Difficulty breathing, accompanied by chest discomfort, is another hallmark symptom of a heart attack. The affected person may feel breathless even with minimal physical activity.

Cold sweats and lightheadedness: Profuse sweating, feeling nauseous, and lightheadedness are common symptoms that can accompany a heart attack.

Sudden fatigue: Unexplained and overwhelming fatigue, akin to feeling unusually tired, may also be indicative of a heart attack.

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Recognizing these symptoms and acting quickly can significantly increase the chances of survival for someone experiencing a heart attack. Time is of the essence, and every moment counts in minimizing damage to the heart.

Beloved entertained Paul O’Grady died of cardiac arrhythmia earlier this year. (Picture: Wirral Libraries)Beloved entertained Paul O’Grady died of cardiac arrhythmia earlier this year. (Picture: Wirral Libraries)
Beloved entertained Paul O’Grady died of cardiac arrhythmia earlier this year. (Picture: Wirral Libraries) | Wirral Libraries

Responding to a cardiac arrest

Cardiac arrests require immediate action keep someone alive until medical help arrives. It happens when the heart's electrical system malfunctions, causing an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that disrupts blood flow to the rest of the body.

Call emergency services: The first step is to 999 immediately. Priority is often given to cardiac arrests so an ambulance should not take long to arrive.

Perform CPR: Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be a lifesaving measure. If you are trained in CPR, begin chest compressions and rescue breaths. If you are untrained or uncomfortable performing rescue breaths, continuous chest compressions alone can also be effective until help arrives.

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Use a defibrillator: If a defibrillator is available nearby, use it as instructed. These devices can analyze the heart's rhythm and deliver an electric shock to restore a normal heartbeat. Community defibrillators have become far more commonplace in recent years, especially in shops, pubs and schools - so you may be in luck.

Stay with the person: Until emergency responders arrive, stay with the person and continue providing necessary assistance.

Preventing heart attacks

While some risk factors for heart attacks, such as age and family history, cannot be modified, there are several lifestyle changes that can significantly reduce the likelihood of experiencing a heart attack.

Quit smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. Quitting smoking can considerably improve heart health.

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Switch to a heart-healthy diet: Consume a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Limit salt, sugar, and saturated and trans fats.

Do regular exercise: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week.

Manage stress: Find healthy ways to cope with stress, such as meditation, exercise, or spending time with loved ones.

Being aware of the symptoms of heart attacks and knowing how to respond to cardiac arrest is vital - and could save someone's life.

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