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:
Why Should I Call 911 If I Can Drive Myself To The Hospital
If you have any symptoms of a heart attack, its best to call 911 for multiple reasons:
- First responders can do some of the early testing and treatment for a heart attack on the way to the hospital. This can speed up the overall diagnosis and treatment process.
- If you come into the hospital by ambulance, you usually have more immediate access to care. When youre having a heart attack, every second matters.
- Heart attacks can cause your heart to beat irregularly or stop entirely, either of which could cause you to pass out. If youre in an ambulance when that happens, first responders can react immediately to stabilize you. You also wont have to worry about passing out behind the wheel and causing a crash that could have devastating consequences for yourself or others.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
A blocked artery needs immediate care to prevent permanent heart damage. You may think that if your symptoms are not intense and severe, youre not having a heart attack. However, its best to get your symptoms checked. Calling 911, rather than driving yourself or having someone else drive you, can be even more life-saving than you think. Time saved is heart muscle saved, and that means you have a better chance of a good outcome.
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.
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Are There Complications Of A Heart Attack
Complications following a heart attack can include:
- Arrhythmia your heart may develop an irregular heartbeat following a heart attack due to damaged heart muscles disrupting electrical signals.
- Heart failure your heart may have ongoing difficulty pumping enough blood, due to its muscles being too weak or stiff.
- Cardiogenic shock where your whole body goes into shock from extensive heart muscle damage.
- Heart rupture this is a rare but serious complication in which the hearts muscles, walls or valves split apart.
These can be dangerous if untreated, but your healthcare team will help to manage them if they occur.
What Causes Heart Attacks
The most common cause of a heart attack is coronary heart disease. This is where fatty deposits, cholesterol and other substances build up in the walls of the coronary arteries that supply oxygen to the heart. Over time, this build-up hardens into plaque that can break off at any time and cause a blood clot which blocks the artery.
In some cases, heart attacks have another cause:
- Coronary artery spasm is an unusual narrowing of blood vessels that can stop blood flow to the heart.
- Spontaneous coronary artery dissection is a sudden tear in the wall of a coronary artery, which can also affect people who have few risk factors for heart disease.
Certain lifestyle factors are shown to increase your chances of heart disease and having a heart attack.
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Stress Effect Stronger Than Thought
Rounding out the list of risk factors were diabetes, high blood pressure, sedentary life style, and a diet that doesn’t include generous servings of fruits and vegetables. On the positive side, a good diet, regular exercise, and moderate alcohol intake did reduce the risk of heart disease — again the reduction was the same regardless of race or ethnicity.
Richard Horton, MD, editor of The Lancet, says that the study demonstrates the potential for real health benefits that can be achieved without pills or surgery. Horton says the results indicate the need for “political action. I think it is really time to consider political moves to control the food industry.” Among the possible options would be special taxes on foods known to contribute to obesity or limits on where such foods can be sold. Horton was not involved in the study.
Yusuf agrees that a concerted, international effort could greatly reduce what he calls a pandemic of heart disease. “We need to build healthier environments,” he says. “Shopping, work, and residence should be concentrated in the same area so that people can walk to a store or walk to work or school.”
The study received funding from 39 institutions including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario as well as a number of pharmaceutical companies.
What Are The Causes Of Heart Disease
Heart disease occurs when plaque develops in the arteries and blood vessels that lead to the heart. This blocks important nutrients and oxygen from reaching your heart.
Plaque is a waxy substance made up of cholesterol, fatty molecules, and minerals. Plaque accumulates over time when the inner lining of an artery is damaged by high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, or elevated cholesterol or triglycerides.
Several risk factors play an important role in determining whether or not youre likely to develop heart disease. Two of these factors, age and heredity, are out of your control.
The risk of heart disease around the age of 55 in women and 45 in men. Your risk may be greater if you have close family members who have a history of heart disease.
Other risk factors for heart disease include:
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases estimates that people with type 2 diabetes and especially those who have reached middle age are twice as likely to have heart disease or experience a stroke as people who dont have diabetes.
Adults with diabetes tend to have heart attacks at a younger age. Theyre more likely to experience multiple heart attacks if they have insulin resistance or high blood glucose levels.
The reason for this is the relationship between glucose and blood vessel health.
You should also maintain a healthy weight. And if you smoke, nows a good time to consider quitting.
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How To Treat A Heart Attack
This article was co-authored by David Nazarian, MD. Dr. David Nazarian is a board certified Internal Medicine Physician and the Owner of My Concierge MD, a medical practice in Beverly Hills California, specializing in concierge medicine, executive health and integrative medicine. Dr. Nazarian specializes in comprehensive physical examinations, IV Vitamin therapies, hormone replacement therapy, weight loss, platelet rich plasma therapies. He has over 16 years of medical training and facilitation and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine. He completed his B.S. in Psychology and Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles, his M.D. from the Sackler School of Medicine, and a residency at Huntington Memorial Hospital, an affiliate of the University of Southern California.There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 284,533 times.
About every 34 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a heart attack.XTrustworthy SourceJohns Hopkins MedicineOfficial resource database of the world-leading Johns Hopkins HospitalGo to source The physical damage due to heart attack can be minimized by early intervention, so prompt recognition of the signs of a heart attack and immediate transport to a hospital is crucial and greatly increases the chance of survival.
The 3 Leading Causes Of Heart Disease
Each year, around 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women accounting for 1 in every 4 deaths. But, before we dive into the causes of heart disease, lets first discuss what exactly is heart disease.
What is heart disease?
The term heart and blood vessel disease, or simply heart disease, can be misleading. Despite what the name suggests, heart disease does not refer to a single condition. Instead, it is an umbrella term used to describe several types of conditions that affect the heart. You may also hear heart disease used interchangeably with the term cardiovascular disease.
These types of conditions include:
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart infections
- Congenital heart defects
Many of these conditions are related to a process called atherosclerosis which develops when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries within the heart. This buildup of plaque causes the arteries to narrow and restricts the ability for blood to flow through. If the buildup forms a clot that blocks the blood flow entirely, it can cause a heart attack or stroke.
What are the causes of heart disease?
There are three major risk factors for developing heart disease, with nearly half of all Americans having at least one of them.
High cholesterol has no signs or symptoms and it is recommended that all adults age 20 and over have their cholesterol checked every 4-6 years.
Is heart disease preventable?
Heart Disease Deaths Vary By Sex Race And Ethnicity
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States, including African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Hispanic, and white men. For women from the Pacific Islands and Asian American, American Indian, Alaska Native, and Hispanic women, heart disease is second only to cancer.1
Below are the percentages of all deaths caused by heart disease in 2020, listed by ethnicity, race, and sex.1
|Race of Ethnic Group|
What Are The Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
Heart attacks can have a number of symptoms, some of which are more common than others. The symptoms you have are also influenced by your sex, as with men and women being more likely to have different heart attack symptoms.
Common heart attack symptoms
Symptoms most often described by people having a heart attack:
- Chest pain . This symptom can be mild and feel like discomfort or heaviness, or it can be severe and feel like crushing pain. It may start in your chest and spread to other areas like your left arm , shoulder, neck, jaw, back or down toward your waist.
- Shortness of breath or trouble breathing.
- Nausea or stomach discomfort. Heart attacks can often be mistaken for indigestion.
- Heart palpitations.
- Feeling lightheaded, dizzy or passing out.
Heart attack symptoms in women
Medical research in recent years has shown that women may have the above symptoms, but also have a higher chance of experiencing symptoms different from those listed above.Women are less likely to describe the following:
- Chest pain, especially in the center of the chest.
- Discomfort that feels like indigestion.
Women are more likely to describe the following:
- Shortness of breath, fatigue and insomnia that started before the heart attack.
- Pain in the back, shoulders, neck, arms or abdomen.
- Nausea and vomiting.
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Leading Causes Of Death Globally
At a global level, 7 of the 10 leading causes of deaths in 2019 were noncommunicable diseases. These seven causes accounted for 44% of all deaths or 80% of the top 10. However, all noncommunicable diseases together accounted for 74% of deaths globally in 2019.
The worlds biggest killer is ischaemic heart disease, responsible for 16% of the worlds total deaths. Since 2000, the largest increase in deaths has been for this disease, rising by more than 2 million to 8.9 million deaths in 2019. Stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are the 2nd and 3rd leading causes of death, responsible for approximately 11% and 6% of total deaths respectively.
Lower respiratory infections remained the worlds most deadly communicable disease, ranked as the 4th leading cause of death. However, the number of deaths has gone down substantially: in 2019 it claimed 2.6 million lives, 460 000 fewer than in 2000.
Neonatal conditions are ranked 5th. However, deaths from neonatal conditions are one of the categories for which the global decrease in deaths in absolute numbers over the past two decades has been the greatest: these conditions killed 2 million newborns and young children in 2019, 1.2 million fewer than in 2000.
Deaths from noncommunicable diseases are on the rise. Trachea, bronchus and lung cancers deaths have risen from 1.2 million to 1.8 million and are now ranked 6th among leading causes of death.
Factors You Can Control
- Lack of physical activity
Having more than one risk factor increases your chance of having a heart attack. Therefore, it is very important to prevent or control risk factors that can be modified. If you have one or more of these factors, see your health care provider to find out how to reduce your risk of having a first or repeat heart attack.
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Major Risk Factors That Cant Be Changed
You may be born with certain risk factors that cannot be changed. The more of these risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing coronary heart disease. Since you cant do anything about these risk factors, its even more important that you manage your risk factors that can be changed.
The majority of people who die of coronary heart disease are 65 or older. While heart attacks can strike people of both sexes in old age, women are at greater risk of dying .
Men have a greater risk of heart attack than women do, and men have attacks earlier in life.
Even after women reach the age of menopause, when womens death rate from heart disease increases, womens risk for heart attack is less than that for men.
Children of parents with heart disease are more likely to develop heart disease themselves.
African-Americans have more severe high blood pressure than Caucasians, and a higher risk of heart disease. Heart disease risk is also higher among Mexican-Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians and some Asian-Americans. This is partly due to higher rates of obesity and diabetes.
Most people with a significant family history of heart disease have one or more other risk factors. Just as you cant control your age, sex and race, you cant control your family history. So, its even more important to treat and control any other modifiable risk factors you have.
How Are Heart Attacks Diagnosed
Heart attacks are usually diagnosed in an emergency room setting. A healthcare provider will diagnose a heart attack using the following:
- History and symptoms: The provider will ask you about the symptoms you experienced. If someone was with you, the provider might also ask them to describe what happened.
- Lab testing: Heart attacks cause a specific chemical marker to show up in your blood.
- Heart-specific diagnostic tests: This includes tests that detect and record the electrical activity in your heart.
- Imaging tests: These tests give providers a way to see inside your heart. Many of these tests can also show the location of a blood flow blockage, which can guide treatment.
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