Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
Heart attack symptoms vary from person to person. They can include:
- pain or discomfort in your chest that happens suddenly and doesn’t go away
- pain that spreads to your left or right arm, or to your neck, jaw, back or stomach. For some people the pain or tightness is severe, while for others its uncomfortable. It may feel like heaviness, or a burning pain similar to indigestion
- feeling sick, sweaty, light-headed or short of breath.
Its possible to have a heart attack without experiencing all these symptoms, and its important to remember everyone experiences pain differently. This is common in the elderly or people with diabetes, as the condition can cause nerve damage which affects how you feel pain.
Rest In A Comfortable Position And Wait For The Ambulance To Arrive
Resting will relieve pressure on the heart as it tries to pump blood around the body.
This may involve sitting or lying down, depending on which feels more restful.
If someone is on their own when they think they are having a heart attack, they should call 911 right away and follow the advice of the call handler.
Heart Attack Grill Menu
The menu is simple, but unlike anything youve ever seen before. They are famous for their Bypass Burgers. You can start with a Single Bypass, and they go all the way up to , which consists of eight 1/2 lb burger patties. Each burger is topped with cheese, tomato, onions sauteed in lard, bacon, and chili!
You can accompany that heart attack on a bun with Flatliner Fries, which are deep fried in pure lard.
They also have outrageous drinks including their butterfat milkshake , which comes in chocolate or vanilla and is served with a pat of butter!
Wine is served in an IV drip bag
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Quick Action Can Save Your Life: Call 911
If you think you or someone else may be having heart attack symptoms or a heart attack, don’t ignore it or feel embarrassed to call for help. . Acting fast can save your life.
Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Call an ambulance so that medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room. Take a nitroglycerin pill if your doctor has prescribed this type of treatment.
Heart With Muscle Damage And A Blocked Artery
A less common cause of heart attack is a severe spasm of a coronary artery. The spasm cuts off blood flow through the artery. Spasms can occur in coronary arteries that aren’t affected by atherosclerosis.
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Arrhythmias are irregular heartbeats. Ventricular fibrillation is a life-threatening arrhythmia that can cause death if not treated right away.
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Use An Aed If You Can
In some areas of the country, simple computerized defibrillators, known as automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, may be available for use by the public or the first person on the scene. The goal is to provide access to defibrillation when needed as quickly as possible. CPR along with AEDs can dramatically increase survival rates for sudden cardiac arrest. If available, this early defibrillation becomes the next link in the chain of survival.
AEDs give an electric shock through the chest wall to the heart. The device has built-in computers that check the victim’s heart rhythm, judge whether defibrillation is needed, and then send the shock. Audible or visual prompts guide the user through the process.
Most AEDs are designed to be used by non-medical people such as fire department personnel, police officers, lifeguards, flight attendants, security guards, teachers, bystanders, and even family members of people at high risk of sudden cardiac death.
AEDs cannot shock a person who is not in cardiac arrest. An AED treats only a heart in an abnormal rhythm. If a person is in cardiac arrest without such a rhythm, the heart will not respond to electric currents. CPR should be administered until EMS arrives.
Once the EMS unit arrives, the next link in the chain of survival is early advanced life support care. This involves giving medications, using special breathing devices, and providing more defibrillation shocks if needed.
Will I Have To Take Medicine For The Rest Of My Life
If you have had a heart attack, your doctor will probably want you to take certain medicines for a long time. This can help reduce your risk of more heart problems. Your doctor can answer your questions about these medicines. He or she can tell you the benefits and risks of taking them.
- Aspirin can reduce the risk of a heart attack. A low dose of aspirin each day can keep your blood from forming clots that can eventually block the arteries. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of aspirin therapy.
- Antiplatelet medicines also help stop blood clots from forming. These drugs are especially important to take for at least a year if you have had a stent placed in your heart.
- Beta blockers are a group of drugs that lower the heart rate and blood pressure. They help improve blood flow to the heart.
- ACE inhibitors are a group of drugs that can help if your heart is not pumping blood well. This medicine helps open your arteries and lower your blood pressure. This improves blood flow.
- Statins are a group of drugs that are used to control cholesterol. They lower bad cholesterol levels and may help increase good cholesterol .
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Other Common Signs And Symptoms
Pay attention to these other possible symptoms of a heart attack:
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
- Feeling unusually tired for no reason, sometimes for days
- Nausea and vomiting
- Light-headedness or sudden dizziness
- Any sudden, new symptoms or a change in the pattern of symptoms you already have
Not everyone having a heart attack has typical symptoms. If you’ve already had a heart attack, your symptoms may not be the same for another one. However, some people may have a pattern of symptoms that recur.
The more signs and symptoms you have, the more likely it is that you’re having a heart attack.
Risk Factors You Can Control
The major risk factors for a heart attack that you can control include:
Some of these risk factorssuch as obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugartend to occur together. When they do, it’s called metabolic syndrome.
In general, a person who has metabolic syndrome is twice as likely to develop heart disease and five times as likely to develop diabetes as someone who doesn’t have metabolic syndrome.
For more information about the risk factors that are part of metabolic syndrome, go to the Health Topics Metabolic Syndrome article.
Are The Symptoms Of Heart Attack Different For Women
The most common heart attack symptom for women is pain or discomfort in the chest. Women are more likely to have a heart attack without having any chest pain. Therefore, women should pay close attention to other symptoms of heart attack. These include shortness of breath, sweating, fatigue, and dizziness.
Ake In Physical Activity
Being physically active will also help to prevent a heart attack. According to the American Heart Association, adults should try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise every week when possible.
Adults who are already active can increase their activity levels to give themselves even better prevention against heart attacks.
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Risk Of A Repeat Heart Attack
Once you’ve had a heart attack, you’re at higher risk for another one. Knowing the difference between angina and a heart attack is important. Angina is chest pain that occurs in people who have ischemic heart disease.
The pain from angina usually occurs after physical exertion and goes away in a few minutes when you rest or take medicine as directed.
The pain from a heart attack usually is more severe than the pain from angina. Heart attack pain doesn’t go away when you rest or take medicine.
If you don’t know whether your chest pain is angina or a heart attack, call 911.
The symptoms of a second heart attack may not be the same as those of a first heart attack. Don’t take a chance if you’re in doubt. Always call 911 right away if you or someone else has heart attack symptoms.
Unfortunately, most heart attack victims wait 2 hours or more after their symptoms start before they seek medical help. This delay can result in lasting heart damage or death.
What Does Depression Have To Do With A Heart Attack
Depression is common after a heart attack. As many as 1 out of every 3 people who have had a heart attack report feelings of depression. People with a higher risk of depression after a heart attack include:
- People who have had depression before.
- People who feel alone and without social or emotional support.
Many people who have depression dont recognize it. They dont seek help or get treatment. Being depressed can make it harder for you to recover physically. Depression can be treated.
Some people have anxiety after a heart attack, fearing it will happen again. Talk to your doctor about your feelings so that you can manage or reduce your anxiety.
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What Should I Do If Someone Is Having A Heart Attack
It’s critical to administer heart attack first aid for symptoms of a heart attack, even if they dont seem serious:
. The 911 operator may advise taking an aspirin to help prevent a in the heart. Be sure to tell the operator if you have an aspirin , a , or are taking blood thinners.
Sit or lie down while waiting for the ambulance and loosen any tight clothing.
Stay calm. This isnt easy if you are worried about dying of a heart attack. increases the hearts need for oxygen and is known to worsen a heart attack. Take some deep breaths and remind yourself that help is on the way.
Take nitroglycerin if it prescribed to you or the person you are with. Nitroglycerin helps ease chest pain by opening up your blood vessels so your heart doesnt have to work as hard.
Important points to remember:
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Describe Chest Pain To Your Doctor
Doctors use several pieces of information to determine who is, and who isn’t, having a heart attack. In addition to the description of your symptoms and your heart risk profile, doctors use the results of an electrocardiogram and a blood test called cardiac troponin. But sometimes these don’t immediately show abnormalities. So, what you describe to the doctor and your medical history are extremely important in determining the initial steps in your treatment.
Here are some things your doctors will want to know about what you are experiencing:
What is it that you are feeling ?
Where is the discomfort?
Has it gotten worse or stayed the same?
Is the feeling constant, or does it come and go?
Have you felt it before?
What were you doing before these feelings started?
Clear answers to these questions go a long way toward nailing down a diagnosis. A few seconds of recurrent stabbing pain is less likely to be a heart attack , while pain centered in the chest that spreads out to the left arm or jaw is more likely to be one.
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.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Heart Attack
Several health conditions, your lifestyle, and your age and family history can increase your risk for heart disease and heart attack. These are called risk factors. About half of all Americans have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking.2
Some risk factors cannot be controlled, such as your age or family history. But you can take steps to lower your risk by changing the factors you can control.
Learn more about risk factors for heart disease and heart attack.
How Is A Heart Attack Diagnosed
The ambulance team will do an electrocardiogram to detect whether you’re having a heart attack. If the ECG shows youre having a heart attack, youre likely to have emergency treatment as soon as you arrive in hospital. If the ECG doesnt confirm a heart attack you might need further tests to investigate if you are having a heart attack, including:
- an assessment of your symptoms and medical history
- physical examinations, including measuring your blood pressure and monitoring your heart rhythm and heart rate
- blood tests including a troponin test to detect if theres been any damage to your heart muscle
- further ECGs
- an echocardiogram.
You might hear a heart attack being called acute coronary syndrome, myocardial infarction or coronary thrombosis while you’re at hospital.
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.
Download the common heart attack warning signs infographic |
What Can I Do To Recover After A Heart Attack
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If youve had a heart attack, your heart may be damaged. This could affect your hearts rhythm and its ability to pump blood to the rest of the body. You may also be at risk for another heart attack or conditions such as stroke, kidney disorders, and peripheral arterial disease .
You can lower your chances of having future health problems following a heart attack with these steps:
- Physical activityTalk with your health care team about the things you do each day in your life and work. Your doctor may want you to limit work, travel, or sexual activity for some time after a heart attack.
- Lifestyle changesEating a healthier diet, increasing physical activity, quitting smoking, and managing stressin addition to taking prescribed medicinescan help improve your heart health and quality of life. Ask your health care team about attending a program called cardiac rehabilitation to help you make these lifestyle changes.
- Cardiac rehabilitationCardiac rehabilitation is an important program for anyone recovering from a heart attack, heart failure, or other heart problem that required surgery or medical care. Cardiac rehab is a supervised program that includes
- Physical activity
- Education about healthy living, including healthy eating, taking medicine as prescribed, and ways to help you quit smoking
- Counseling to find ways to relieve stress and improve mental health
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