Symptoms Vary Between Men And Women
As with men, womens most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
Cas Silent Heart Attack Or Heart Attack Without Blockage
The coronary artery spasm is also known as a coronary spasm, unstable angina, or silent heart attack. The symptoms, which can be the same as a STEMI heart attack, may be mistaken for muscle pain, indigestion, and more. It occurs when one of the hearts arteries tightens so much that blood flow stops or becomes drastically reduced. Only imaging and blood test results can tell your doctor if youve had a silent heart attack.
There is no permanent damage during a coronary artery spasm. While silent heart attacks arent as serious, they do increase your risk of another heart attack or one that may be more serious.
If your doctor suspects a heart attack, you may be treated immediately with:
- aspirin to prevent blood clotting
- nitroglycerin to relieve chest pain and improve blood flow
After your doctor confirms the heart attack, they will prescribe medications. They may recommend surgery, if needed.
Family History And Genetics
A family history of early heart disease is a risk factor for coronary heart disease. This is especially true if your father or brother was diagnosed before age 55, or if your mother or sister was diagnosed before age 65. Research shows that some genes are linked with a higher risk for coronary heart disease.
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Angina Vs Heart Attack
Chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle is called angina. Its a common symptom of heart disease. There are two main types of angina:
- stable angina, the most common type of angina and one that is predictable often occurring with physical exertion or stress
- unstable angina, which is unpredictable and should be treated as a medical emergency
An angina attack can feel like a heart attack, and in many cases especially with unstable angina it can be hard to tell angina from an actual heart attack.
If you have stable angina thats brought on with exertion and eases with rest, you may assume a sudden but brief bout of chest pain is only an angina attack. If chest pain doesnt subside with rest or comes and goes for a period of 10 minutes or more, you may be having a heart attack.
Talking with your doctor about how to manage your angina will help you better understand the difference between angina and heart attack symptoms, and help prepare you if your chest pain is actually a symptom of a heart attack.
The leading cause of heart attacks is coronary heart disease. This is where plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. The general buildup of plaque in the arteries is also known as atherosclerosis.
There are two main types of heart attack.
In type II heart attacks the heart does not receive as much oxygen-rich blood as it needs, but there is not a complete blockage of an artery.
Other causes of heart attacks include:
What Tests Will Be Done To Diagnose This Condition
Anyone with heart attack symptoms should undergo a physical examination, including checking pulse, blood oxygen levels, blood pressure, and listening to heart and lung sounds.
Other tests used to diagnose heart attack include:
- Electrocardiogram : This is one of the first tests done when someone comes to an ER with heart attack symptoms. This test uses sensors called electrodes that attach to the skin of your chest. The electrodes pick up electrical activity in the heart and show it as a wave on a display or printout. By looking at the wave, providers can see the strength and timing of the electrical signal as it travels through your heart. When the signal doesnt travel like it should, the shape of the wave changes, which can indicate a heart attack or similar problems. EKG for a heart attack is usually continuous to monitor for changes in heart activity.
STEMI and non-STEMI heart attacks
The wave of your heart’s electrical signal is divided into sections using letters of the alphabet starting at P and ending at U. One particular section of the wave, the ST segment, shows activity in the heart’s lower two chambers. Those chambers are the left ventricle and right ventricle.
- Blood tests. During a heart attack, the damage to heart muscle cells almost always causes a chemical marker to appear in your bloodstream. Blood tests that look for that marker are among the most reliable methods to diagnose a heart attack.
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What Do I Do If I Have A Heart Attack
After a heart attack, you need quick treatment to open the blocked artery and lessen the damage. At the first signs of a heart attack, call 911. The best time to treat a heart attack is within 1 or 2 hours after symptoms begin. Waiting longer means more damage to your heart and a lower chance of survival.
If youâve called emergency services and are waiting for them to arrive, chew an aspirin . Aspirin is a potent inhibitor of blood clots and can lower the risk of death from a heart attack by 25%.
Can You Prevent A Heart Attack
You can lower your risk of a heart attack by changing behaviors that can raise your risks or treating any known coronary artery disease. Healthy lifestyle changes, including heart-healthy eating, staying active, quitting smoking, managing stress, and maintaining a healthy weight, can help prevent heart disease. Even if you already have coronary artery disease, these changes can lower your risk of a heart attack.
It is also important for you to get treatment for other health conditions that raise your risk of a heart attack. Talk to your doctor about whether taking aspirin can help you prevent blood clots that can lead to a heart attack.
Research for your health
Learn about current and future NHLBI research to advance treatment and improve our scientific understanding of the causes of heart attacks. Research on this topic is part of the NHLBIs broader commitment to advancing scientific discovery for heart and vascular diseases.
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Types Of Heart Attack
The type of heart attack you experienced determines the treatments that your medical team will recommend. These include:
- ST- segment elevation myocardial infarction : This type of heart attack occurs when a coronary artery is completely blocked.As a result, a large portion of the heart cannot receive blood, and the heart muscle quickly begins to die. STEMI are the deadliest type of heart attacks.
- Non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction : This type of heart attack occurs when a coronary artery is severely restricted but not entirely blocked. NSTEMIs usually cause less damage to the heart than their counterpart, STEMI.
Can You Have Sex After A Heart Attack
A heart attack can take a toll on your romantic relationships and sex life, but that doesnt mean you should give up on sex afterward.
It may take some recovery time before you can resume sexual activity, and you may need to make certain modifications to your sexual practices.
Impaired sexual function is common after a heart attack, yet many people are reluctant to discuss this problem with their doctor. You may improve your sexual function by working on your overall fitness and endurance.
Many doctors tout the benefits of sex and intimacy for heart attack survivors, such as stress reduction, improved emotional well-being, and lower blood pressure.
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When Do I Do If Someone Else Has A Heart Attack
An easy-to-use device called an AED is available in many public places and can be used by almost anyone to treat cardiac arrest. This device works by shocking the heart back into a normal rhythm.
Hereâs how to use an AED:
1. Check responsiveness
- For an adult or older child, shout and shake the person to confirm whether theyâre unconscious. Do not use AED on a conscious person.
- For an infant or young child, pinch their skin. Never shake a young child.
- Check breathing and pulse. If absent or uneven, prepare to use the AED as soon as possible.
2. Prepare to use AED
- Make sure the person is in a dry area and away from puddles or water.
- Check for body piercings or outline of an implanted medical device, such as a pacemaker or implantable defibrillator.
- AED pads must be placed at least 1 inch away from piercings or implanted devices.
3. Use AED
For newborns, infants, and children up to age 8, use a pediatric AED, if possible. If not, use an adult AED.
- Turn on the AED.
- Plug in connector, if necessary.
- Make sure no one is touching the person.
- Push the âAnalyzeâ button.
- If a shock is advised, check again to make sure no one is touching the person.
- Push the âShockâ button.
- Start or resume continue compressions.
- Follow AED prompts.
4. Continue CPR
Heart Attack Survivor Takes The Road Of Recovery To The Ironman Finish Line
A local man who suffered two heart attacks in 2017 is defying all the odds as an IRONMAN medalist.
MADISON — A local man who suffered two heart attacks in 2017 is defying all the odds as an IRONMAN medalist.
Both times, Nicholas Curran was cared for at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison. This is where he said he met an angel, his nurse Karen Peterson — a registered nurse in the Cardiac Cath Lab at the hospital.
“I told him we were going to do everything we could to save his life and take care of him. He wanted the Beastie Boys to be played. So we did a little dancing, a little singing, and then we got to work,” Peterson said.
Nicholas said those at the hospital made healthcare personable and did the wonderful work to save his heart.
“She took the time with my wife to make sure that she was comfortable and knows what happens, knows how to help me in recovery. That’s a real bond. I want Karen to know that her time with me mattered,” Nicholas said.
For Nicholas, completing the IRONMAN is a huge sense of accomplishment.
“Having done this, I know I had tons of support along the way. But I also know that I did a lot of it myself too,” Nicholas said.
Rebecca Curran is Nicholas’ wife. She said he has a big drive, and when he wants to accomplish something, he does.
“It really shows that anyone can do anything. He set his mind to it and he was able to overcome so many obstacles, so many challenges,” Rebecca said.
The road to recovery, that led Nicholas to the finish line.
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Signs And Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
Symptoms of a heart attack can vary greatly from person to person. Theyre likely to be more severe if youre having a major heart attack, in which a blood clot completely blocks an artery leading to your heart.
- Pain or discomfort in your jaw or neck
- Pain or discomfort in your arms, shoulders, or back
- Indigestion or sense of choking
- Sweating, especially a cold sweat
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Sudden chest pain is the most common heart attack symptom, but not all people experience it. Some people have only mild symptoms that come on gradually.
Because a heart attack is a medical emergency, dial 911 right away if you experience symptoms that you believe are caused by one.
When To Call 9
Any time you think you might be having a heart attack, dont ignore it. even if you are not sure that youre having a heart attack.
- Acting fast can limit damage to your heart and save your life. The 9-1-1 operator or emergency medical services personnel can give you advice that can help prevent damage to your heart.
- An ambulance is the best and safest way to get to the hospital. Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. EMS personnel can check how you are doing and start tests and lifesaving medicines right away. People who arrive by ambulance often get faster treatment at the hospital.
Every minute matters. Never delay calling 9-1-1, taking aspirin or doing anything else you think might help.
Knowing the difference between stable angina and a heart attack is important.
- The pain from angina usually happens after physical activity and goes away in a few minutes when you rest or take medicine to treat it.
- The pain from a heart attack is more serious than the pain from angina. Heart attack pain doesnt go away when you rest or take medicine.
If you dont know whether your chest pain is angina or a heart attack,
Learn What a Heart Attack Feels Like
A heart attack often causes cardiogenic shock. Its important to learn the warning signs of a heart attack and what to do if you are experiencing symptoms.
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How Are Heart Attacks Treated
Treating a heart attack means restoring blood flow to the affected heart muscle as soon as possible. This can happen in a variety of ways, ranging from medication to surgery. It’s extremely likely that treatment will use several of the following methods.
People having trouble breathing or with low blood oxygen levels will often receive supplementary oxygen along with other heart attack treatments. You can breathe the oxygen either through a tube that sits just below your nose or a mask that fits over your nose and mouth. This increases the amount of oxygen circulating in the blood and reduces the strain on your heart.
- Anti-clotting medications: This includes aspirin and other blood-thinning medicines.
- Nitroglycerin: This medicine is used to relieve chest pain. It also is a powerful vasodilator, meaning it causes blood vessels to widen so blood can pass through more easily.
- Thrombolytic medications: These intravenous medications cause blood clots to break down and dissolve. These medications are usually used only within the first 12 hours after a heart attack.
- Anti-arrhythmia medications: Heart attacks can often cause malfunctions in your hearts normal beating rhythm called arrhythmias. Some arrhythmias can be life-threatening. Anti-arrhythmia medications can stop or prevent these malfunctions.
- Pain medications: The most common pain medication given during heart attack care is morphine. This can help alleviate chest pain.
Five Facts About Heart Disease To Live By
1. Keep Moving
If you havent been exercising at all, its never too late to start. The older we get, we are tempted to find excuses to avoid physical activity. If exercise is new to you, talk with your doctor about which activities are preferable. Even short walks offer advantages to your heart.
According to research by the American Heart Association, physically active middle-aged adults have a low risk of sudden cardiac arrest. The results confirm that there are significant benefits to middle-agers who exercise.
If you are in your 50s, try for a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. If you are in your 60s or beyond, try for 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity each week.
2. Your Age Alone May Put You at Increased Risk for Heart Disease
Your risk for heart disease increases with age, especially with people of color and for those who are over 65. While the average age for a heart attack is 64.5 for men, and 70.3 for women, nearly 20 percent of those who die of heart disease are under the age of 65.
3. Your Other Risk Factors are Important
Know your personal risk factors. Some you are born with and some you cannot control:
Risk factors that you may be able to do something about include:
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How To Get Checked Out
Men may not be aware they had an SMI until weeks or even months later when they see their doctor for a regular visit, or because of persistent symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, or heartburn.
SMI is usually detected from an electrocardiogram or echocardiogram, which can highlight heart muscle damage. Another method is a blood test for the molecular footprints of troponin T, a protein released by injured heart cells. That test is often used in emergency departments for patients with heart attack symptoms.
Once an SMI is diagnosed, your doctor can identify your main risk factors and help design a treatment strategy, including changing your diet, exercising regularly, and taking a statin as well as other medication to help prevent a second heart attack .
“If you do notice any symptoms of a SMI, do not brush them aside, even if you do not think they are serious,” says Dr. Plutzky. “Playing it safe is always a better move than risking the potential harmful downside.”
After You Are Treated
After you have been treated, you will be transferred to a Coronary Care Unit so you can recover. The CCU is a special part of the hospital for heart patients. You will be monitored 24 hours a day and can be treated right away if you have problems. Most women will stay in the hospital for four to five days after a heart attack. As you recover, more tests may be done to see how well your heart is working and develop a long-term treatment plan.
After you leave the hospital, you should always make an appointment to see your own doctor or cardiologist as soon as possible. The ER doctor is NOT a substitute for your own doctor. Together, you can discuss the things you can do to recover faster and prevent future problems.
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