What To Do If You Suspect A Heart Attack
Always call 999 if youre worried the main reason people die from a heart attack is not seeking help soon enough. If you suspect youre having a heart attack, and can safely take aspirin, chew and swallow one tablet as that can start to thin the blood. Then lie down with your head propped up and wait for help to arrive, says Dr Chitkara.;
Dont go hunting for any aspirin if you dont have some nearby; the exertion of climbing stairs to the bathroom cabinet could put extra strain on your heart. Stay calm and remember that help is on its way.
Once they receive professional medical care, most people who have a heart attack make a full recovery. Within a few months you should be back on your feet and back to normal life.
Silent Heart Attack Symptoms
A silent heart attack is like any other heart attack, except it occurs without the usual symptoms. In other words, you may not even realize youve experienced a heart attack.
In fact, researchers from Duke University Medical Center have estimated that as many as 200,000 Americans experience heart attacks each year without even knowing it. Unfortunately, these events cause heart damage and increase the risk of future attacks.
Silent heart attacks are more common among people with diabetes and in those whove had previous heart attacks.
Symptoms that may indicate a silent heart attack include:
- mild discomfort in your chest, arms, or jaw that goes away after resting
- shortness of breath and tiring easily
- sleep disturbances and increased fatigue
- abdominal pain or heartburn
- skin clamminess
After having a silent heart attack, you may experience more fatigue than before or find that exercise becomes more difficult. Get regular physical exams to stay on top of your heart health. If you have cardiac risk factors, talk to your doctor about getting tests done to check the condition of your heart.
What Is Heart Disease
Coronary artery disease is the most common type and is the leading cause of heart attacks. When you have CAD, your arteries become hard and narrow. Blood has a hard time getting to the heart, so the heart does not get all the blood it needs. CAD can lead to:
- Angina .Angina is chest pain or discomfort that happens when the heart does not get enough blood. It may feel like a pressing or squeezing pain, often in the chest, but sometimes the pain is in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. It can also feel like indigestion . Angina is not a heart attack, but having angina means you are more likely to have a heart attack.
- Heart attack. A heart attack occurs when an artery is severely or completely blocked, and the heart does not get the blood it needs for more than 20 minutes.
Heart failure occurs when the heart is not able to pump blood through the body as well as it should. This means that other organs, which normally get blood from the heart, do not get enough blood. It does not mean that the heart stops. Signs of heart failure include:
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Uncomfortable Pressure Squeezing Fullness Or Pain In The Chest
Feeling any of the above in the middle of your chest for more than a few minutes is the most common indication of a heart attack. The sensations may go away and come back as well.
Dr. Druz tends to ask her patients to rate their chest sensation by its intensity. Sometimes patients describe it as an elephant sitting on their chest, or as a chest constriction or squeezing sensation, she says. In terms of intensity, well ask them to rate it from one and 10, with one being very slight pain and 10 being very intense pain or comparable sensation. Any pain which is at least six out of 10 raises a red flag.
What Are The Signs Of A Heart Attack
A heart attack occurs when one of the arteries to the heart gets completely blocked. This means the part of the heart supplied by that artery is starved of oxygen-rich blood, and the muscle is at risk of dying without medical help. The sooner the treatment, the more muscle you can save.
The most common sign of a heart attack is a severe, constricting, heavy pain in the chest, says consultant cardiologist Dr Andrew Archbold from BMI The London Independent Hospital. Its usually a diffuse pain starting in the centre or left of the chest, often radiating out into one or sometimes both arms, or into the jaw.
However, Dr Archbold says its not a pain that you could point at with one finger and say it hurts here like you could with a pulled muscle. Nor does it usually appear on its own people having a heart attack often feel sick , feel sweaty, clammy or breathless. Some say they also experienced a feeling of dread or doom.
Is it indigestion or a heart attack?
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Tips For Heart Attack Prevention
The goal after your heart attack is to keep your heart healthy and lower your risk of having another heart attack. Take your medications as directed, make healthy lifestyle changes, see your doctor for regular heart checkups, and consider a cardiac rehabilitation program.
Why do I need to take drugs after a heart attack?
You might take certain drugs after a heart attack to:
- Prevent blood clots
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.
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Why Even Mild Heart Attacks Should Be Taken Seriously
Even if your heart comes through unscathed, a heart attack should be viewed as a wake-up call. You are at increased risk for another heart attack or a stroke. Its time to get serious, Dr. Campbell says.
Your physician will make a plan for preventing another heart attack. But its you who must carry it out.
It is extremely important to understand that how you live your life and manage your risk factors going forward will impact what happens to you next, he says. We urge you to recognize a mild heart attack as an important event and use it to make changes that positively impact your health.
This article first appeared in Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor.
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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Nausea Indigestion Heartburn Or Stomach Pain
Some people have these symptoms during a heart attack. They may even vomit, Chambers says.
Women are more likely to report this type of symptom than men are.
Of course, you can have an upset stomach for many reasons that have nothing to do with your heart. It could just be something you ate, after all. But you need to be aware that it can also happen during a heart attack.
So if you feel this way and youâre at risk for heart problems, let a doctor find out whatâs going on, especially if you also have any of the other symptoms on this list.
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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Heart Attack Symptoms: Are They Different Between Men And Women
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While chest pain and shortness of breath have long been the telltale signs of a heart attack, these symptoms have been based on years of clinical research looking at what men experience.
But women have a higher risk of dying from a heart attack than men do. In many cases, thats because they dont realize they are having a heart attack and take too long to get help.
More recent studies have indicated that fewer women experience chest pain, or at least to the degree of pain or discomfort than men do.
More simply put: Women are less likely to have the typical heart attack seen in the movies.
Women could certainly experience chest pain, but they should also be on the lookout for less obvious symptoms, such as nausea, indigestion, and palpitations in addition to shortness of breath and back pain.
Nearly half of women in one study had no chest pain at all during their heart attack. Fatigue and shortness of breath were the most common symptoms.
Both women and men may have typical symptoms of heart attack, including chest pain or pressure often radiating to the shoulders, arms, neck or jaw and shortness of breath. These symptoms are usually made worse with exertion or stress, said Marcus St. John, M.D., interventional cardiologist, Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute. There are, however, several atypical symptoms of a heart attack and these tend to be more common in women.
How To Get Checked Out
Men may not be aware they had an SMI until weeks or even months later when they see their doctor for a regular visit, or because of persistent symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, or heartburn.
SMI is usually detected from an electrocardiogram or echocardiogram, which can highlight heart muscle damage. Another method is a blood test for the molecular footprints of troponin T, a protein released by injured heart cells. That test is often used in emergency departments for patients with heart attack symptoms.
Once an SMI is diagnosed, your doctor can identify your main risk factors and help design a treatment strategy, including changing your diet, exercising regularly, and taking a statin as well as other medication to help prevent a second heart attack .
“If you do notice any symptoms of a SMI, do not brush them aside, even if you do not think they are serious,” says Dr. Plutzky. “Playing it safe is always a better move than risking the potential harmful downside.”
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Diseases That Raise Womens Heart Attack Risk
One reason womens heart attack symptoms can vary so much is that women are more susceptible to different types of heart disease than men, which can lead to heart attacks with different symptoms. Learn about preventing heart disease.
Heres an example. Plaque buildup can occur in the smallest arteries and reduce blood flow to the heart a condition called coronary microvascular disease . MVD can increase your risk for a heart attack, and women are more likely to develop this disease than men, particularly women with lower estrogen levels before menopause. Symptoms of this disease usually feel like a slight squeezing in the chest or shortness of breath. These symptoms often appear during the carrying out of everyday tasks rather than intense physical activity.
Another disease that can raise womens risk of heart disease and subsequent heart attacks is diabetes. According to a study in the European Heart Journal, women with diabetes are more likely to die from ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease, than men with diabetes.
Heart attack symptoms among women who have conditions like MVD and diabetes are not always severe or immediately debilitating but theyre just as serious as the elephant-on-your-chest pressure that everyone knows about.
Next Steps & Resources:
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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.
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Do Women Do Worse Than Men After A Heart Attack
Yes. In all age groups, women do worse than men after a heart attack. Researchers are not sure why this is, especially for younger women.
- Women between 45 and 65 who have a heart attack are more likely than men of the same age to die within a year of a heart attack. However, heart attack is less common in younger women than in younger men. This is partly because the hormone estrogen protects against heart disease in younger women.
- Women older than 65 are more likely than men of the same age to die within a few weeks of a heart attack. Women usually have heart attacks about 10 years later than men. The average age of a first heart attack for men is 64, but it is 72 for women.
Many women who have had a heart attack go on to lead full, active lives. Know the and if you have any symptoms. Take after a heart attack and prevent another heart attack.
What Do I Do If I Have A Heart Attack
After a heart attack, you need quick treatment to open the blocked artery and lessen the damage. At the first signs of a heart attack, call 911. The best time to treat a heart attack is within 1 or 2 hours after symptoms begin. Waiting longer means more damage to your heart and a lower chance of survival.
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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:
What Is The Difference Between A Heart Attack And Cardiac Arrest
A heart attack is not the same as cardiac arrest. In a heart attack, the heart keeps beating. The person has a pulse and usually stays conscious . During cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating. The person has no pulse and is unconscious .
A defibrillator is a machine that sends an electrical shock to the heart to restore normal rhythm. This treatment must be given as soon as possible. For cardiac arrest, call 911 and begin CPR right away. The American Heart Association says that with “hands only” CPR, anyone can give lifesaving treatment to someone having cardiac arrest. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest and keep going until emergency personnel arrive. Do not give CPR for a heart attack.
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