Diagnosis Of A Heart Attack
A paramedic or doctor at hospital will give you an ECG as soon as possible. An ECG checks the electrical activity of your heart, and can often show whether or not youre having a heart attack. If the ECG confirms a heart attack, you may be given treatment straightaway, before waiting for results of any other tests.
Your doctor may recommend other tests, either immediately or over the next few days in hospital.
These include the following.
- Blood tests, including tests for a protein called troponin. Your heart produces troponin when your heart muscle is damaged. Levels in your blood increase within hours of a heart attack and then fall again.
- A chest X-ray. This will help your doctor see whether there might be a cause for your chest pain other than a heart attack. It also checks for fluid in your lungs, which might happen if your heart isnt working well after a heart attack.
- A coronary angiogram your doctor will give you an injection of a special dye into your coronary arteries to make them clearly visible on X-rays. This test can show where there are blockages or narrowings in your coronary arteries.
An echocardiogram this uses ultrasound to check the structure of your heart. It can detect how much damage theres been to your heart muscle, any complications and how well your heart is working.
How Do I Know If I Am Having A Heart Attack
To know if your symptoms signal a heart attack, get into the habit of noting your typical aches and pains and your normal reactions to foods and activities so you can recognize when something is truly amiss. If you have heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, a smoking habit or a sedentary lifestyle, be especially careful about monitoring how you feel. Alert your doctor if you experience unusual fatigue, changes in your sleep habits or other subtle heart attack symptoms.
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.
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What’s The Difference Between Angina And A Heart Attack
Angina is pain felt in your chest often caused by coronary heart disease. As the symptoms of angina are similar to a heart attack, its important to know how to distinguish between the two. If you havent been diagnosed with angina and you start experiencing chest pain that feels similar to the symptoms of a heart attack, phone 999 immediately.If you have angina and you start experiencing chest pain symptoms similar to a heart attack:
- sit down and rest
- use your glyceryl trinitrate spray that youve been prescribed
- if the pain still persists after a few minutes, take another dose of your spray
- if the pain doesnt go away a few minutes after your second dose, dial 999 immediately.
Your Legs Feet And Ankles Are Swollen
This could be a sign that your heart doesnât pump blood as effectively as it should.
When the heart can’t pump fast enough, blood backs up in the veins and causes bloating.
Heart failure can also make it harder for the kidneys to remove extra water and sodium from the body, which can lead to bloating.
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The Anxiety Attack Experience
Panic attacks are often misunderstood because of the word “panic.” In truth, they’re filled with primarily physical symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Trouble getting a deep breath.
- Weakness or tingling in the extremities.
There are mental symptoms as well, but many relate to the physical symptoms. Panic attacks often cause an intense feeling of doom, usually around these health problems – the same feeling of doom you would likely experience if you were suffering from a heart attack.
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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What’s The Difference Between A Cardiac Arrest And A Heart Attack
The phrases cardiac arrest and heart attack are often confused, however are different.If youre having a cardiac arrest you will be unconscious, not breathing or not breathing normally. Your heart has stopped pumping blood around your body and youll need CPR and medical attention immediately. During a heart attack you’ll be conscious and breathing, but experiencing chest pain or discomfort.A heart attack is a medical emergency and can lead to cardiac arrest so its important to seek medical attention straight away.
What To Do When Youre Having A Heart Attack
- Chew one adult-strength aspirin to help keep your blood from clotting.
- Stay on the phone with the emergency operator as you wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself to the hospital.
If youre not sure its a heart attack, dont ignore your symptoms. Call for help anyway. If you are having a heart attack, the sooner you get to the hospital, the sooner your care team can work to restore blood flow and reduce further heart damage.
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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.
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Treatment Of A Heart Attack
How you are treated in hospital will depend on how severe your heart attack is and how long it is since your symptoms started.
If youre having the most serious type of heart attack, when your coronary artery has been completely blocked, your doctor may recommend treatment to restore blood flow to the affected heart muscle. There are two main ways to do this.
- A coronary angioplasty . This involves widening your narrowed or blocked coronary artery by inflating a balloon inside it. Your doctor will usually also insert a wire mesh tube called a stent to hold your coronary artery open. This is usually the best treatment to have, if its available quickly.
- Thrombolysis. This is an injection of medicines that break down the clot in your coronary artery, sometimes called a clot buster. The medicine is given through an injection into a vein in your arm. You may be given this if you arent able to get a coronary angioplasty in time.
Sometimes you may need further surgery once youve recovered from the initial heart attack. This might include more angioplasty or a coronary artery bypass graft . CABG is an operation to bypass a narrowed section of your coronary artery using a blood vessel from your chest, leg or arm. This diverts the flow of blood around your narrowed or blocked coronary artery.
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When Chest Pains Are Serious
Unlike an achy knee or crabby lower back, chest pain isn’t something to shrug off until tomorrow. It also isn’t something to diagnose at home. Don’t play doctor go see one, fast, if you are worried about pain or discomfort in your chest, upper back, left arm, or jaw or suddenly faint or develop a cold sweat, nausea, or vomiting. Call 911 or your local emergency number to summon an emergency medical crew. It will whisk you to the hospital in a vehicle full of equipment that can start the diagnosis and keep you stable if your heart really is in trouble.
There are oh-so-many reasons to delay calling for help.
- I’m too young .
- I’m in great shape .
- I have a family to take care of .
- I don’t want to bother anyone .
What Are The Early Signs Of A Heart Attack
There are heart attack symptoms in women that are different from heart attack symptoms in men. But the common signs and symptoms they usually share are as follows:
- Chest pain or discomfort: The discomfort usually lasts for more than a few minutes or it may go away and come back. The discomfort may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain at the center of the chest.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: This may include pain or discomfort in the back, jaw, stomach or in one or both arms.
- Shortness of breath: This may occur with, before or without chest pain or discomfort.
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
- Nausea or light-headedness
Meanwhile, heart attack symptoms in women sometimes go unnoticed. These include the following:
- Back pain
- Pressure, fullness, squeezing pain in the center of the chest, spreading to the neck, shoulder or jaw
- Unusual fatigue
- Treating or managing conditions that can be a risk factors of heart attack such as diabetes
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Just Like The Name Implies A Silent Heart Attack Is A Heart Attack That Has Either:
- no symptoms,
- minimal symptoms or
- unrecognized symptoms, says Deborah Ekery, M.D., a clinical cardiologist at Heart Hospital of Austin and with Austin Heart in Austin, TX.
But it is like any other heart attack where blood flow to a section of the heart is temporarily blocked and can cause scarring and damage to the heart muscle.
Ekery regularly sees patients who come in complaining of fatigue and problems related to heart disease, and discovers, through an MRI or EKG, that the person had actually suffered a heart attack weeks or months ago, without ever realizing it.
What A Mild Heart Attack Means
A mild heart attack is a common way of referring to what physicians call a non-ST elevation myocardial infarction, or NSTEMI. .
In this type of heart attack, blood flow through one of the coronary arteries was partially blocked, limiting the supply of oxygenated blood to the heart muscle.
If you were told youve had a mild heart attack, it probably means your heart didnt suffer much damage and still pumps normally, Dr. Campbell says.
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Whatto Do If You Notice Symptoms
Women often say theynoticed some of these three warning signs weeks or a monthbefore a heart attack.
The sooner you report aproblem, the better the chances are of catching an issue before it becomes afull-blown heart attack. If you experience any of these symptoms, take note andvisit your doctor as quickly as possible.
Complications Of A Heart Attack
With prompt treatment, many people these days survive a heart attack and go on to make a good recovery. But its important to be aware that a heart attack can lead to more serious problems, either straightaway, or in the long term.
Without treatment, a heart attack may cause permanent damage to the structure of your heart. If there is a lot of damage, your heart wont be able to work properly anymore, and this can be fatal. Other complications may include the following.
- Arrhythmia . Your heart may beat too fast, or too slowly, or the rhythm may become irregular. Arrhythmias can be life-threatening.
- Angina, pain or discomfort in your chest which carries on after your heart attack, especially when youre active or exercising. This is a sign of reduced oxygen supply to your heart.
- Heart failure, when its more difficult for your heart to pump enough blood and oxygen around your body. This is because the heart attack can damage your heart muscle and make it weaker.
- Depression or feeling low. Many people feel depressed after having a heart attack. You may be worried about having another heart attack or concerned about your recovery. If youre feeling anxious, speak to your doctor for advice.
Treatments are available to help manage all of these complications.
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Control Cholesterol And Blood Pressure
To reduce your risk of a heart attack, you will need to control your cholesterol and manage your blood pressure. Quitting smoking, changing the way you eat, and getting more exercise can help. But if these things donât work, you may also need to take medicines.
Risk Factors For A Silent Heart Attack In Women
Still, Ekery says, the risk factors for a silent heart attack are the same as those for a recognized heart attack, and:
A silent heart attack can be just as dangerous as its more obvious counterpart, says Ekery. Because the event often leaves scarring and damage to the heart, it puts the person at greater risk of other heart problems. And because the person didnt know to seek treatment, blood flow to the heart might not have been restored early on, and no medications were administered, so the impact could potentially be greater.
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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
Symptoms Of Heart Attack
Its easy to assume that pain in your chest is gas or even acid reflux. But, if your pain is new, happens over and over, or keeps you up at night, call 911. Common symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Pain, squeezing, tightness, pressure, or aching in your arms or chest. Sometimes this can spread to your back, jaw, or neck.
- Shortness of breath
- Have a history of pregnancy complications
- Experienced early menopause
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How Do Doctors Know What Kind Of Heart Attack Youve Had
You cant predict the outcome of a heart attack by your symptoms or how severe they are. Thats why symptoms that suggest a possible heart attack should never be ignored.
How well you fare after a heart attack depends on how quickly you act, Dr. Campbell says. The sooner you get emergency care, the better the chance you will suffer less permanent damage to your heart.
If you go to the ER with heart-attack symptom, youll be treated right away. Your blood will be examined for any enzymes indicating theres been damage to your hearts muscle. And a noninvasive echocardiogram is performed to see how well your heart is pumping.
Still it may take several hours to determine whether youve had a heart attack and what kind of treatment is needed. That means, if youre not sure what your symptoms mean, the thought of spending several hours in the ER might discourage you from seeking care. Dont let it! Dr. Campbell advises that its much wiser to err on the safe side.
Its better you spend several hours in the ER than learn the damage has been done, and your heart cant be fixed, he says.
What Is Cardiac Arrest
Sudden cardiac arrest occurs suddenly and often without warning. It is triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat . With its pumping action disrupted, the heart cannot pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. Seconds later, a person loses consciousness and has no pulse. Death occurs within minutes if the victim does not receive treatment.