Understand Your Risk Of Heart Disease
Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women and men. But both heart attacks and heart disease can appear differently in women than in men. This disparity means that women are more likely to have undiagnosed heart conditions, and they may not even know when theyre at risk for heart attack.
If youre a woman, its important to educate yourself about your heart health. Risk factors that increase your chances of heart disease and heart attack include:
Heart disease is common, but its preventable in many cases. Our team is dedicated to helping you strengthen your heart and live your healthiest life.
We partner with you, evaluating your medical history, family history, and current condition to propose a heart-healthy plan thats right for you. Managing pre-existing conditions and making a range of healthy lifestyle choices can make a big difference for your heart and help reduce your risk of heart attack.
Trust your heart health to our team at NJ Cardiovascular Institute. To learn more about the risks of heart disease and how to spot a heart attack, book an appointment at one of our offices in Newark, Secaucus, or Paramus, New Jersey. Use the online scheduler or give us a call.
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It Might Be Angina Not A Heart Attack
Your doctor may use the word angina or angina pectoris, when discussing your chest pain. Actually, angina is the medical term for chest pain, pressure or tightness but its not the same as a heart attack.
- A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is suddenly and completely cut off, usually by a blood clot.
- Angina occurs when the amount of blood flowing to the heart muscle cant meet the hearts demand for blood.
Blood supply to the heart muscle is typically reduced by atherosclerosis, the build-up of fatty plaque in the arteries that supply the heart. When the hearts demand for blood flow increases in someone with restricted blood supply to the heart, that person may experience angina symptoms, including squeezing, burning, tightness or a sensation of pressure in the chest.
Health experts classify angina in two categories: stable angina and unstable angina. Stable angina occurs during activity or emotional stress, whereas unstable angina typically happens while at rest.
If you have angina, it means you have underlying coronary artery disease, but it doesnt necessarily mean youre having or are at increased risk of having a heart attack.
So how can you tell whether your chest pain is angina or a heart attack? Here are some important differences:
First Signs Of A Heart Attack
Heart attacks dont always come on suddenly and drop you to your knees.
In fact, many people have heart attacks and dont even realize it, carrying on after a quick burst of pain in their back or neck, chest or shoulder.
You may have some symptoms that arent explained leading up to a heart attack, such as unexplained fatigue, anxiety, or fear of impending doom .
You may have nausea or vomiting that doesnt seem to be related to anything. You might also experience shortness of breath off and on without cause.
For instance, if you are seated and suddenly feel out of breath, it could be a sign that a heart attack could occur.
Of course, symptoms can be related to any number of conditions or nothing at all, but if you experience any of these or several together, it might be worth looking into or at least keeping an eye on how you feel in the coming days.
Why Choose The Hospitals Of Providence For Your Early Heart Attack Care
The Hospitals of Providence has EHAC teams who genuinely care about you and your loved ones. Our hospitals are located across El Paso to provide accessible care to the communities in this city and nearby areas. At the same time, we have received multiple recognitions for the compassionate care and patient-centered cardiovascular services we offer.
Some of the accreditations and recognitions we received in recent years are as follows:
For Sierra Campus
- Chest Pain Reaccreditation by the Society of Cardiovascular Care
- ACC HeartCARE Center Designation by the American College of Cardiology
- Grade A rating for patient safety in the Leapfrog Groups Fall 2019 Safety Score
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Catch The Signs Early
Dont wait to get help if you experience any of these heart attack warning signs. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense. But most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Pay attention to your body and call 911 if you experience:
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or it may go away and then return. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath. This can occur with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs. Other possible signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
Chest Pain Pressure Squeezing And Fullness
Picture someone having a heart attack, and chances are you imagine them gasping for air and clutching their chest before falling unconscious. While you may experience chest pain during a heart attack, it may not be as dramatic. In some cases, it may not even be described as pain. Instead, it may feel more like pressure or squeezing in the chest.
Chest pain or chest discomfort is caused by an insufficient supply of oxygen-rich blood to your heart. During a heart attack, you may feel this pain in the center of the chest. It can last for a few minutes and disappear, or it may recur after a short break.
This symptom is a warning sign of blocked or narrowed arteries. Dont hesitate to report this to your doctor, even if this and other symptoms are not intense.
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What Do These Early Symptoms Typically Look Like
Dr. Xu says the majority of patients experience somewhat typical symptoms, such as radiating chest pain, heaviness or discomfort, heart palpitations, cold sweats, and shortness of breath. Others women more so than men will experience some atypical symptoms as well, which may include fatigue, a general sense of unease, vague discomfort, back or abdominal pain and declining stamina. Both types of symptoms can be experienced months before an actual heart attack occurs.
Is There Anything That Distinguishes These Symptoms How Do You Know When Those Subtle Atypical Symptoms Are Concerning
Its important to know your risk for heart disease in order to assess early symptoms. Dr. Xu says when he works with a patient, they discuss his or her family and personal history, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, age and disease history to determine a risk level for heart attacks.
Within this context of risk, they talk about symptoms. Are they typical or not? How are they experienced? At rest or during exertion? Are they associated with emotional stress or cold weather? Are they happening in conjunction with other symptoms such as shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat or cold sweats? This is the starting point for a treatment plan.
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Can Drinking Water Prevent A Heart Attack
A study in the American Journal of Medical Epidemiology found that participants âwho drink five or more glasses of plain water per day have a much lower risk of fatal coronary heart disease, compared to those who drink less than two glasses per day.â It’s even more important to drink before bed because it helps improve …
Waiting For An Ambulance
It may be helpful to take an aspirin tablet, ideally 300 milligrams, while waiting for an ambulance. A person can take an aspirin tablet if they do not have an allergy to it and if a doctor or member of the emergency services team has recommended it.
Aspirin is a blood-thinning medication that may help restore some blood flow to the heart.
A person should make sure that they have taken any prescribed heart medication as instructed while they are waiting for the ambulance to arrive. These medications may include nitroglycerin or beta-blockers.
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Less Likely To Be A Heart Attack
Sensation of pain, or of pressure, tightness, squeezing, or burning
Sharp or knifelike pain brought on by breathing or coughing
Gradual onset of pain over the course of a few minutes
Sudden stabbing pain that lasts only a few seconds
Pain in diffuse area, including a constant pain in middle of chest
Pain clearly on one side of the body or the other
Pain that extends to the left arm, neck, jaw, or back
Pain that is localized to one small spot
Pain or pressure accompanied by other signs, such as difficulty breathing, a cold sweat, or sudden nausea
Pain that lasts for many hours or days without any other symptoms
Pain or pressure that appears during or after physical exertion or emotional stress or while you are at rest
Pain reproduced by pressing on the chest or with body motion
Early Symptoms Dont Really Sound Like The Hollywood Heart Attack Experience Is That Typical
There are two main ways that people present with heart attacks, Dr. Xu says:
- Sudden A person may or may not have any symptoms previously, but all at once a plaque deposit ruptures, triggering a chain of events and a sudden heart attack.
- Gradual The other presentation happens slowly as coronary disease progresses. In this situation, an artery is getting narrower over time. When the artery is narrowed down to more than 70 percent, a person will start to have warning symptoms ahead of time, especially with physical exertion.
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Q What Is Cardiac Arrest
Is Blood Pressure High Or Low During A Heart Attack
Blood pressure might drop if someone is having a heart attack because the heart is too weak to maintain it, as the muscle might have been damaged. The severe pain a person might feel during a heart attack could also trigger an automatic response, which might lead to decreased blood pressure and fainting.
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Can A Heart Attack Be Mild
A mild heart attack affects a relatively small portion of the heart muscle, or does not cause much permanent heart damage. This is because the blockage in a coronary artery occurs in a small artery that supplies a small portion of the heart muscle does not completely block blood flow to the heart or lasts briefly.
Heart Attack Warning Signs For Women
While chest pain is often a symptom of a heart attack among women, the pain is often described as pressure or tightness instead of the heavy weight on the chest pain that men describe.
In some cases, there may only be other symptoms and very little or no chest pain.
Women are also more likely than men to experience nontraditional heart attack symptoms, such as:
- unusual or extreme fatigue, which may develop several days before other symptoms and may make you feel like youre coming down with the flu
- pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen that may feel like heartburn or indigestion
- throat and jaw pain, often without any chest pain
- symptoms that come on gradually
Women are often reluctant to seek medical attention for heart attack symptoms, partly because of delays in recognizing heart attack symptoms since theyre not commonly talked about.
While women are slightly less likely than men to have heart attacks before menopause, the odds essentially are equal after menopause.
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How Do I Take Care Of Myself After A Silent Heart Attack
After you go home from the hospital, youll need to keep taking the medicines your provider ordered for you. Its important that you keep taking these medications. Some may be necessary for the rest of your life.
Types of medications may include:
Unfortunately, its possible to have another heart attack once youve already had one. This is why its important to keep taking your medications and follow your providers instructions. Cardiac rehabilitation, which combines education and exercise, can be helpful as well.
Recovering From A Heart Attack
The time it takes to recover from a heart attack will depend on the amount of damage to your heart muscle.
Most people can return to work after having a heart attack. Some people are well enough to return to work after 2 weeks. Other people may take several months to recover. How quickly you can go back to work depends on your health, the state of your heart and the type of work you do.
The recovery process aims to:
- reduce your risk of another heart attack through a combination of lifestyle changes , and medicines , which help to lower blood cholesterol levels
- gradually restore your physical fitness so you can resume normal activities
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When Should I See A Doctor
Its important not to ignore symptoms and wait until they become severe. If you have a concern, talk to your doctor. If heart disease is caught early, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of further problems: eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, get regular exercise , maintain a healthy weight, drink alcohol in moderation , and dont smoke.
Q How Is Smoking Related To A Heart Attack
- Lack of oxygen supply to the heart
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate.
- Clotting of blood.
- Damage to cells that line coronary arteries and other blood vessels.
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Q Does Your Body Warn You Before A Heart Attack
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, pain or discomfort in the chest.
- Discomfort or pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath.
- Cold sweat or lightheadedness.
When Should I See My Doctor
If calling triple zero does not work on your mobile, try calling 112. Early treatment could save a life.
See your doctor regularly to manage your general health, test for heart disease risk factors and help you take steps to prevent a heart attack.
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While Waiting For The Ambulance
Stop any activity and rest while waiting for an ambulance. Dont try to drive yourself to hospital. Loosen any tight clothing, such as collar buttons or ties. Avoid breathing in cigarette smoke. Dont have anything to eat or drink.
If you have been prescribed angina medicine, sit or lie down and take a dose of this under your tongue. If this doesnt relieve your symptoms in 5 minutes, try taking 2 more doses at 5-minute intervals.
Chew 300mg aspirin straight away, unless youre allergic or your doctor has told you not to. Do not give aspirin to anyone under 12 years.
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How Long Does A Heart Attack Last
Initial heart attack symptoms, including chest pain and shortness of breath, may come and go. Symptoms often last around 10 minutes or longer.
A study published in Critical Pathways in Cardiology found that symptoms lasting less than five minutes are unlikely to indicate a heart attack, while symptoms lasting longer than five minutes should be taken seriously as signs of a myocardial infarction .
However, this finding comes from only one study. So if you have symptoms lasting longer than a few minutes, you need to call 911.
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