Heart Attacks And Chest Pain
Typically, the decrease in oxygen-rich blood causes your heart to cramp up, sending out pain signals that serve as a kind of distress call, letting you know that your heart is in trouble.
But even though chest pain is the most common heart attack symptom for both women and men, not all heart attacks cause chest pain. In fact, about 20% of heart attacks are silent not associated with significant pain or any pain at all.
Silent heart attacks are usually associated with other symptoms, like:
- Sudden dizziness
- Numbness in your arm or hand
- Heart palpitations or rapid heartbeat
- Profuse sweating or cold sweats
- Intense pressure in your chest, arm, or belly
Sometimes, a heart attack causes pain in areas other than the chest. Neck pain, jaw pain, arm pain, and pain in the back or belly can also happen during a heart attack.
Its also important to know that while heart attacks are common among both women and men, women are more likely to experience these other less-common symptoms, like nausea, shortness of breath, or jaw and back pain.
Heart Attack Testing: Faq
Q: Why do I have to submit to a bunch of tests?A: Tests help the doctor determine if a heart attack occurred, how much your heart was damaged and what degree of coronary artery disease you might have. The tests screen your heart and help the doctor determine what treatment and lifestyle changes will keep your heart healthy and prevent serious future medical events.
Q: Whats the difference between invasive and non-invasive tests?A: Non-invasive cardiac tests measure your hearts activity through external imaging and electrocardiography. Invasive tests include drawing and testing samples of your blood, and inserting and threading a thin hollow tube called a catheter into a blood vessel to get an inside view.
Q: How can I learn more about the tests that may be performed?A: These diagnostic tests and procedures can reveal if you had a heart attack, how much damage was done and what degree of coronary artery disease you have.
Q: What types of treatment will I get after the hospital diagnoses my heart attack?A: If youve had a heart attack, you may have already had undergone certain procedures to help you survive your heart attack. Those same procedures can help to diagnose your condition. Such procedures include:
Q What Are The Symptoms Of Heart Attack
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What To Do During A Heart Attack
A heart attack is a medical emergency.
The faster you get to a hospital, the better your chances of surviving the heart attack and minimizing damage to your heart muscle.
Even if youre not sure your symptoms indicate a heart attack, you should seek emergency medical care. Never worry about a false alarm or causing anyone embarrassment.
Follow these steps if you or someone around you is having heart attack symptoms:
What Is The Difference Between Heart Disease And Cardiovascular Disease
Heart disease is a catch-all phrase for a variety of conditions that affect the hearts structure and function. Keep in mind all heart diseases are cardiovascular diseases, but not all cardiovascular diseases are heart disease. The most common type of heart disease is coronary heart disease.
What are the 4 types of Cardiovascular Disease?
- Coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle is blocked or reduced.
- Strokes and TIAs.
- Peripheral arterial disease.
- Aortic disease.
What causes heart disease or cardiovascular disease? High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including: Diabetes. Overweight and obesity.
What are 3 types of heart disease?
- Arrhythmia. An arrhythmia is a heart rhythm abnormality.
- Atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a hardening of the arteries.
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Should I Still Call 999 Or Go To Hospital If Im Worried About My Health
Whether or not you have coronavirus symptoms, its essential to dial 999 if you have symptoms that could be a heart attack, or if your heart symptoms get worse.
We are hearing that fewer people are being seen in hospital with heart attacks in recent weeks, which suggests that people are not seeking help when they should do. If you have any of the symptoms described above, you should call 999.
Dont delay because you think hospitals are too busy the NHS still has systems in place to treat people for heart attacks. If you delay, you are more likely to suffer serious heart damage and more likely to need intensive care and to spend longer in hospital.
What Causes A Heart Attack
Coronary artery disease, a condition that develops over time in which plaque builds up along the walls of the coronary arteries and narrows the channels through which blood flows, is the primary cause of most heart attacks. If a plaque ruptures a blood clot can occur which can block off the artery and prevent blood from reaching parts of the heart muscle, causing a heart attack
Less common causes of heart attack include:
- Temporary spasm of a coronary artery
- Spontaneous coronary artery dissection, which is a tearing of the coronary artery wall
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Heart Attack Warning Signs For Men
The classic symptom of chest pain may not be present in every heart attack, but it remains the most common warning sign, especially among men.
The pain is often described as a heavy weight on the chest. It tends to be located in the center of the chest, but it can be felt from armpit to armpit.
Other heart attack symptoms that are common among men include:
- shortness of breath, which sometimes develops before any other symptoms, and may be present when sitting still or moving around
- a sudden cold sweat
- symptoms that come on quickly
What To Do If You Have Heart Attack Symptoms
Because certain symptoms, such as nausea or fatigue, can signal any number of health concerns, its important to be aware of other possible heart attack symptoms.
If you suddenly become nauseated and are having trouble catching your breath or you have serious jaw pain, call 911. Tell the 911 dispatcher you may be having a heart attack.
You may be reluctant to call 911 if youre not sure whether you or a loved one is having a heart attack, but its better to err on the side of caution.
A heart attack is often a life threatening emergency. The faster you get medical attention, the better chance you have of a good recovery.
When to call 911
Any time you have pain or pressure in your chest that lasts more than a few minutes and is different to pain youve felt before, its important to get medical attention as soon as possible. This is especially important if you have other symptoms, too, such as:
- shortness of breath
nearly a quarter of all heart attacks in the United States, according to the American Heart Association.
A silent heart attack may resolve on its own if, for example, the clot blocking blood flow dissolves or becomes dislodged and is absorbed into the body. But a silent heart attack can still cause damage.
If a doctor discovers that you had a silent heart attack, you may want to consider cardiac rehabilitation and the type of care that any other person whos had a heart attack receives.
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People Who Have These So
- a case of the flu, or
- they may think that they strained a muscle in their chest or their upper back.
- It also may not be discomfort in the chest, it may be in the jaw or the upper back or arms, she says.
Some folks have prolonged and excessive fatigue that is unexplained. Those are some of the less specific symptoms for a heart attack, but ones that people may ignore or attribute to something else.
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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Types Of Heart Attacks
The scientific term for a heart attack is myocardial infarction or MI for short. There are different kinds of heart attacks, and the severity, diagnosis and treatment for each may be different.
What all heart attacks have in common is that something is preventing oxygen-containing, nutrient-rich blood from getting to the heart muscle. The amount of damage to the heart will depend on the type of heart attack, the severity of blockage and the time it took to get treated.
Heres what you need to know about the types of heart attacks:
Angina And Heart Attacks
Angina is a syndrome caused by the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart becoming restricted.
People with angina can experience similar symptoms to a heart attack, but they usually happen during exercise and pass within a few minutes.
However, occasionally, people with angina can have a heart attack. It’s important to recognise the difference between the symptoms of angina and those of a heart attack. The best way to do this is to remember that the symptoms of angina can be controlled with medicine, but symptoms of a heart attack cannot.
If you have angina, you may have been prescribed medicine that improves your symptoms within 5 minutes. If the first dose does not work, a second dose can be taken after 5 minutes, and a third dose after a further 5 minutes.
If the pain persists, despite taking 3 doses of glyceryl trinitrate over 15 minutes, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.
Page last reviewed: 28 November 2019 Next review due: 28 November 2022
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What Happens In The First Few Days After A Heart Attack
You will be closely monitored in the first few days after your heart attack
Depending on the severity of your heart attack, the treatmentyou have received and your home situation, you will usuallybe in hospital for 3 to 5 days.
- The first 24-48 hours after a heart attack is when your condition will be most unstable.
- This period is often spent in a coronary care unit , a specialised intensive care unit for heart patients, or in an acute medical ward where your heart function can be monitored closely.
- Your blood sugar level will also be closely monitored. After a heart attack, some people have an increase in their blood sugar level. If this happens you might need treatment with insulin to reduce your blood sugar levels.
- As a result of your heart attack, other conditions can develop. For example, your heart may not be able to pump blood around your body as well as it did before, or there may be damage to the control of the electrical activity of your heart.
- It is normal to feel very tired after a heart attack. Initially try to limit any visiting to your immediate family and keep visits brief. Meals are intentionally light as a heavy meal will increase demand on your heart. Eating smaller meals more often means that your heart will not have to work so hard.
How Long Do Heart Attack Symptoms Last
Posted by:Advanced Cardiology of Newmarket
If youre having a heart attack, how long does the chest pain last? Can it go on all day long?
According to the Mayo Clinic, heart attack symptoms often dont follow the classic pattern we see on television with a sudden onset pain. They can be much more subtle and sometimes begin with warning pains in the chest or other symptoms days or even weeks before the actual attack.
Typically, however, if youre having a heart attack, the severe pain lasts for about 15-20 minutes and then can linger for some time after. Im only a layperson though, and you should definitely talk to a doctor if youre having chest pain, or go to the ER if necessary.
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What If Your Doctor Assures You It’s Just Stress Or Fatigue
If a young, healthy patient doesnt have other risk factors, the likelihood of having significant coronary artery disease is low. It may not be appropriate to jump into testing. But the important thing is to always keep coronary risks in mind. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms that dont go away or get worse should go back to a doctor for further evaluation.
How Do Mild Heart Attacks Affect The Heart
A heart attack occurs when a blockage impedes the circulation of blood to the heart. If the blockage is not removed, heart tissue begins to die from lack of oxygen.
Heart attacks can vary in severity from mild to massive. A mild heart attack often doesnt cause much permanent heart damage or only affects a relatively small portion of the heart muscle. It could be the result of a blockage that occurs in a small coronary artery, or the blockage does not completely block blood flow to the heart or it only lasts a brief time.
A massive heart attack is the opposite. It affects a large portion of the heart muscle, or causes a large amount of damage. In this case the blockage affects a large coronary artery, completely blocks blood flow, or lasts for a long period of time.
Whatever its size or effects, a heart attack should always be taken seriously. Even a mild heart attack that leaves no permanent damage can still be an indication that you are at risk for future heart attacks.
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Know Your Heart Care Options
You cant predict if a heart attack will happen. But knowing where you can get the right heart care is one thing you can do. Our nationally recognized cardiac centers include:
- Regions Hospital Heart Center in St. Paul, MN, is consistently recognized as one of the nations top cardiac centers. Youll get the highest level of care in every situation, starting with emergency treatment all the way through the recovery process.
- Park Nicollet Heart and Vascular Center, located in St. Louis Park, MN, is nationally recognized for offering outstanding, responsive care for heart attacks and other cardiac conditions. This center is accredited as a Mission: Lifeline® Heart Attack Receiving Center by the American Heart Association, so you can expect first-rate treatment, especially in time-sensitive situations.
- Cardiac rehabilitation services are offered across the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin. Recovering from a heart attack takes time, but you dont have to go through it alone. We offer personalized cardiac rehabilitation at seven convenient locations, so its easy to get the support you and your heart need.
Heart Attacks In Women
Women often experience heart attacks in different ways than men.
For instance, it is not uncommon to hear a woman say she didnt even know she was having a heart attack because she experienced back pain, or pain in another area that is not commonly associated with the heart, such as the stomach.
Most people think heart attacks cause chest pain, but everyone experiences pain differently and its important to note the differences so you can be prepared.
Women will feel tired and sick to their stomachs and feel confused or disoriented. This is true for men as well, but it often persists in women more than men.
Women tend to live high-stress lives and brush off physical symptoms of stress as fatigue, but its important to pay attention to signs that are new or symptoms that are not explained.
Even fatigue is something you should be paying attention to as it can lead to all kinds of other problems, including accidents.
Interesting enough, women are often surveyed about heart attacks and many say that they wouldnt seek medical help for those symptoms, citing they are too busy to let pain stop them.
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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.
About Half Of All Heart Attacks Are Mistaken For Less Serious Problems And Can Increase Your Risk Of Dying From Coronary Artery Disease
Image: goir/Getty Images
You can have a heart attack and not even know it. A silent heart attack, known as a silent myocardial infarction , account for 45% of heart attacks and strike men more than women.
They are described as “silent” because when they occur, their symptoms lack the intensity of a classic heart attack, such as extreme chest pain and pressure stabbing pain in the arm, neck, or jaw sudden shortness of breath sweating, and dizziness.
“SMI symptoms can feel so mild, and be so brief, they often get confused for regular discomfort or another less serious problem, and thus men ignore them,” says Dr. Jorge Plutzky, director of the vascular disease prevention program at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
For instance, men may feel fatigue or physical discomfort and chalk it up to overwork, poor sleep, or some general age-related ache or pain. Other typical symptoms like mild pain in the throat or chest can be confused with gastric reflux, indigestion, and heartburn.
Also, the location of pain is sometimes misunderstood. With SMI, you may feel discomfort in the center of the chest and not a sharp pain on the left side of the chest, which many people associate with a heart attack. “People can even feel completely normal during an SMI and afterward, too, which further adds to the chance of missing the warning signs,” says Dr. Plutzky.
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