Antonio Banderas: Star felt symptoms of shock heart attack ‘immediately’ – what were they?
Pain and Glory: Official film trailer starring Antonio Banderas
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Only 56 at the time of his heart attack, Banderas explained in the past that the life-threatening condition came as a complete shock. However, now having time to reflect on the incident, the actor described the ordeal as a “blessing” having made him refocus on the important things in his life. Having said that he started to feel symptoms “immediately”, Banderas went on to thank his girlfriend Nicole Kimpel who helped to save his life by giving him one of the maximum strength aspirin she had bought for a headache the day before his event.
Speaking on a television show back in 2021, the Academy Award nominee spoke openly about his health ordeal saying: “A heart attack can affect individuals in many different ways. There are heart attacks that take you out just like that and others, like me, who are very very lucky.”
Continuing to explain that many people might find his opinion on the subject “strange” Banderas added: “It’s strange but it is true. A heart attack came to my life as a blessing.
“In a way it taught me how to reorder my priorities. Things that I thought were very important sunk, and only the things that really were important stayed.”
The actor went on to say that these “really important” factors within his life were his daughter, his family, his friends and his vocation.
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He added: “There was a certain sadness that has to do with the fact that you are very vulnerable. That death is the only certainty that we have and everything else is absolutely relative.
“I went on to live life in a completely different way. There was something inside of me that changed.”
In fact, Banderas not only changed his life off-screen but his abilities as an actor on-screen too, channelling his own struggles as a way to make his characters more believable.
Pedro Almodóvar, the Spanish film director with whom Banderas had made seven films at the time, saw the change in the actor immediately.
Giving Banders advice he said: “I don’t know how to describe it, but after you had this heart attack, there’s something in you. I don’t know how to describe it, but I want you to not hide it.”
A heart attack is described by the NHS as a “serious medical emergency” which occurs when the blood supply to the heart is suddenly blocked.
The cause of the blockage is usually a blood clot, which forms as a result of a condition known as coronary heart disease (CHD).
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) explains that CHD is caused by the coronary arteries slowly narrowing as a result of a build-up of fatty deposits called atheroma. If a piece of atheroma breaks off, a blood clot forms to try and repair the damage to the artery wall.
This clot can then block the coronary artery – either a partial blockage (known as NSTEMI) or total blockage (STEMI). This causes your heart muscle to be starved of blood and oxygen and this results in a heart attack.
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).
CHD develops slowly over time, so individuals can be at risk of a heart attack without even knowing. In fact, some people don’t know they have CHD before they have a heart attack.
Due to this is it important that individuals get CHD diagnosed and take drastic measures in order to minimise their risk of a heart attack or other related health problems. The main way in which CHD is diagnosed is through specialised tests such as:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Chest x-ray
- Coronary angiogram.
For those who suffer a heart attack, it is important that they receive treatment as soon as possible in order to limit the amount of damage done to the vital organ. Signs that an individual may be suffering from a heart attack include the following:
- Chest pain – a feeling of pressure, heaviness, tightness or squeezing across your chest
- Pain in other parts of the body – it can feel as if the pain is spreading from your chest to your arms (usually the left arm, but it can affect both arms), jaw, neck, back and tummy
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)
- An overwhelming feeling of anxiety (similar to a panic attack)
- Coughing or wheezing.
Similar to what happened to Banderas, the NHS notes that while waiting for an ambulance individuals may find respite in chewing and swallowing a tablet of aspirin. This will help to thin the blood and improve blood flow to the heart.
In hospital, treatment for a heart attack depends on how serious it is. The two main treatments used in the UK include using medicines to dissolve blood clots and surgery to help restore blood to the heart.
Despite his heart attack not causing any lasting damage, Banderas underwent surgery to have three stents implanted into his coronary arteries. This is known medically as a coronary angioplasty and aims to re-open the blocked coronary artery by inserting one or more stents. This helps keep the narrowed artery open.
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