What To Do If You Recognize A Heart Attack
If you think theres any chance you or someone else may be having a heart attack, you need to get medical help as quickly as possible. Even if it turns out to be something else, it is better to act quickly than risk putting your life on the line.
If you recognize the signs of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. The sooner that treatment begins, the greater likelihood that you can minimize damage to the heart.
The person having the symptoms should not drive. Always have someone else drive you to the hospital if you are not being transported by ambulance.
If the person goes unconscious, you can start cardiopulmonary resuscitation while you wait for emergency medical services . If you are in a public place, ask if there is an AED on site. An AED is a portable device that can check someone’s heart rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electric shock to help someone who is in cardiac arrest.
Find trainings in CPR and AED use through the American Red Cross, so you are prepared if you are ever in an emergency situation.
Preventing A Heart Attack
There are 5 main steps you can take to reduce your risk of having a heart attack :
- smokers should quit smoking
- lose weight if you’re overweight or obese
- do regular exercise adults should do at least 150 minutes of;moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, unless advised otherwise by the doctor in charge of your care
- eat a low-fat, high-fibre diet, including wholegrains and at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day
- moderate your alcohol consumption
Risk Factors And Symptoms
It’s unclear what symptoms and risk factors Thicke had, if any, before his heart attack.
But people can have a heart attack even if there were no symptoms leading up to it, Steinbaum said.
Often when this happens, the heart attack is the result of a ruptured plaque in a person’s artery, Steinbaum said. Plaques are buildups of cholesterol and inflammatory cells that form along the wall of a blood vessel, partially blocking it. If a plaque ruptures, the body sends platelets to fix the rupture, which leads to more blockage that eventually cuts off blood flow to the heart, she said.
It is possible that exercise, which causes a person’s heart rate and blood pressure to increase, can lead to a ruptured plaque, she said.
But this doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t exercise, Steinbaum said. Rather, this is why you always hear, “Consult with your doctor before starting an exercise program,” she said. When a person exercises, the body’s demand for oxygen goes up, and if a person has a blockage in their arteries, it’s hard to get enough oxygen. This can cause symptoms of a heart attack, she said.;
Steinbaum said that heart disease is preventable 80 percent of the time. Heart attacks usually stem from a person’s risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a sedentary lifestyle, she said. Age also plays a role: For men, risk of a heart attack goes up after age 55, she said.;
Are There Different Types
There are a few different types of angina. Each type has its own defining characteristics.
- Stable angina. This type follows a consistent pattern, often occurring after exertion or stress. Symptoms typically dont last long and can be relieved using medication or with rest.
- Unstable angina. Unstable angina doesnt follow a pattern and can also be more severe. It can occur at rest, last longer, and may not be relieved with medications. Since it can progress to a heart attack, its considered a medical emergency.
- Microvascular angina. Microvascular angina affects the very small arteries in the heart. It can occur while youre performing your normal day-to-day activities, last a longer time, and cause severe pain. Medication may not ease symptoms. This type of angina may be more common in women.
- Variant angina. This type of angina is rare and can occur while youre resting or sleeping. Its caused by a sudden spasm of the arteries in your heart and can cause severe pain. Symptoms can often be relieved with medication, but in some cases the spasm of the arteries can lead to potentially life-threatening arrhythmias or damage to the heart muscle.
Is All Chest Pain A Heart Attack
No. One very common type of chest pain is called angina. Its a recurring discomfort that usually lasts only a few minutes. Angina occurs when your heart muscle doesnt get the blood supply and oxygen that it needs.
The difference between angina and a heart attack is that angina attacks dont permanently damage the heart muscle.
There are different types of angina, including:
- Stable angina, or angina pectoris Stable angina often occurs during exercise or emotional stress when your heart rate and blood pressure increase, and your heart muscle needs more oxygen. Learn more about stable angina.
- Unstable angina, sometimes referred to as acute coronary syndrome Unstable angina occurs while you may be resting or sleeping, or with little physical exertion. It comes as a surprise. Unstable angina can lead to a heart attack and it should be treated as an emergency. Learn more about unstable angina.
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How Is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Different From A Heart Attack
Sudden cardiac arrest is not a heart attack but can occur during a heart attack. Heart attacks occur when there is a blockage in one or more of the arteries to the heart, preventing the heart from receiving enough oxygen-rich blood. If the oxygen in the blood cannot reach the heart muscle, the heart becomes damaged.
In contrast, sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the electrical system to the heart malfunctions and suddenly becomes very irregular. The heart beats dangerously fast. The ventricles may flutter or quiver , and blood is not delivered to the body. In the first few minutes, the greatest concern is that blood flow to the brain will be reduced so drastically that a person will lose consciousness. Death follows unless emergency treatment is begun immediately.
Emergency treatment includes cardiopulmonary resuscitation and defibrillation. CPR is a manual technique using repetitive pressing to the chest and breathing into the person’s airways that keeps enough oxygen and blood flowing to the brain until the normal heart rhythm is restored with an electric shock to the chest, a procedure called defibrillation. Emergency squads use portable defibrillators and frequently there are public access defibrillators in public locations that are intended to be available for use by citizens who observe cardiac arrest.
What A Heart Attack Feels Like For A Man
The classic symptom of chest pain may not be present in every heart attack, but it remains the most common sign among men. The pain is often described as a pressure or squeezing sensation. Chest pain tends to be located in the center of the chest, but it can be felt from armpit to armpit.
Other common heart attack symptoms for men include:
- shortness of breath, which sometimes develops before any other symptoms, and may be present when sitting still or moving around
- back pain, often moving up to the neck
- arm pain, typically in the left arm, but can be in either or both arms
- jaw pain that sometimes feels like a bad toothache
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Causes Of A Heart Attack
Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of heart attacks.
CHD is a condition in which the major blood vessels that supply the heart get clogged with deposits of cholesterol, known as;plaques.
Before a heart attack, 1 of the plaques bursts , causing a;blood clot to develop at the site of the rupture.
The clot may block the supply of blood to the heart, triggering a heart attack.
Symptoms For A Heart Attack
I also will be looking to see how closely your symptoms;resemble the typical signs of a heart attack:
The challenge of identifying the cause of chest pain symptoms can be complex. That’s why if you do have chest pain seek medical attention immediately rather than checking Google for answers. Matters of the heart are often more than a mouse-click away.
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What Are Sudden Cardiac Arrest And Sudden Cardiac Death
Sudden cardiac death is a sudden, unexpected death caused by loss of heart function . Sudden cardiac death is the largest cause of natural death in the United States, causing about 325,000 adult deaths in the United States each year. Sudden cardiac death is responsible for half of all heart disease deaths.
Sudden cardiac death occurs most frequently in adults in their mid-30s to mid-40s, and affects men twice as often as it does women. This condition is rare in children, affecting only 1 to 2 per 100,000 children each year.
Electrical System of the Heart
How Is A Heart Attack Different From Cardiac Arrest
People often use these terms to mean the same thing, but they describe different events.
A heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked. Its a circulation problem.
With sudden cardiac arrest , the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating unexpectedly. Sudden cardiac arrest is an electrical problem.
A heart attack can cause a cardiac arrest. In cardiac arrest , death results when the heart suddenly stops working properly. This is caused by irregular heart rhythms called arrhythmias.
The most common arrhythmia in cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation. This is when the hearts lower chambers suddenly start beating chaotically and dont pump blood. Death occurs within minutes after the heart stops.
Cardiac arrest may be reversed if CPR is performed and a defibrillator is used within minutes to shock the heart and restore a normal heart rhythm.
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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.
Types Of Heart Attacks
Most heart attacks are caused by a blockage in a coronary artery, but, in rare cases, they can be caused by a sudden spasm or tearing of an artery.
The two main types of heart attacks are:
- ST-elevation myocardial infarction is when there is a complete blockage in a coronary artery. It is the most severe type of heart attack.
- Non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction is when an artery is partially blocked and severely reduces blood flow to the heart. NSTEMI is slightly more common than STEMI.
Other types of heart attacks, which are less common than STEMI or NSTEMI, are:
- Coronary artery spasm is when the artery contracts or spasms severely. This narrows the artery and decreases blood flow to part of the heart muscle.
- Coronary artery dissection is a rare type of heart attack in which there’s a spontaneous tearing of the coronary artery wall.
The likelihood of survival depends on which arteries are affected. A blockage in the left anterior descending artery, a branch of the left coronary artery, has the highest risk of death.
The LAD artery supplies a large part of the heart and a STEMI of the LAD artery is sometimes referred to as the “the widowmaker” because of the increased risk of complications and death.
A widowmaker heart attack is also associated with an increased risk of heart failure and stroke, but it is less common than a blockage to the right coronary artery .
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Complications Of A Heart Attack
Complications of a heart attack can be serious and possibly life threatening.
- arrhythmias these are abnormal heartbeats. 1 type is where the heart begins beating faster and faster, then stops beating
- cardiogenic shock where the heart’s muscles are severely damaged and can no longer contract properly to supply enough blood to maintain many body functions
- heart rupture where the heart’s muscles, walls or valves split apart
These complications can happen quickly after a heart attack and are a leading cause of death.
Many people die suddenly from a complication of a heart attack before reaching hospital or within the 1st month after a heart attack.
The outlook often depends on:
- age serious complications are more likely as you get older
- the severity of the heart attack how much of the heart’s muscle has been damaged during the attack
- how long it took before a person received treatment treatment for a heart attack should begin as soon as possible
What You Should Know About Heart Attacks
- ; More than 920,000 Americans will have a heart attack this year. Almost half of them will occur without prior symptoms or warning signs.
- About 7.9 million Americans who have had a heart attack are currently alive.
- ; Forty-two percent of women who have heart attacks die within one year, compared to 24 percent of men.
- ; Each year, 435,000 American women have heart attacks; 83,000 are under age 65; 35,000 are under age 55.
5 strategies for heart attack prevention
- “Stop smoking.”
- “Know your numbers .”
- “If your numbers are not at goal, change your lifestyle and/or take meds to get them there.”
- “Exercise. Did you know that even 15 minutes a day makes a difference in cardiovascular events?”
- “Eat healthier. Eat less food. The obesity epidemic in American is about 80 percent caused by us eating too much of the wrong thing. Focus on plant-based, whole foods .”
Its critical for men and women to educate themselves about the issue of heart attacks, experts say.
More than 920,000 Americans this year will have a heart attack, and almost half of these heart attacks will occur without prior symptoms or warning signs, according to The Heart Foundation, an organization dedicated to saving lives by educating the public about heart disease, promoting early detection and supporting research.
Q: Are heart attacks more common for men or women?
A: “They are more common in men until women reach menopause, and then females start catching up. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in both men and women.”
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Interventional Procedures Or Surgery:
For patients with coronary artery disease, an interventional procedure such as angioplasty or bypass surgery may be needed to improve blood flow to the heart muscle and reduce the risk of SCD. For patients with other conditions, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or congenital heart defects, an interventional procedure or surgery may be needed to correct the problem. Other procedures may be used to treat abnormal heart rhythms, including electrical cardioversion and catheter ablation.
When a heart attack occurs in the left ventricle , a scar forms. The scarred tissue may increase the risk of ventricular tachycardia. The electrophysiologist can determine the exact area causing the arrhythmia. The electrophysiologist, working with your surgeon, may combine ablation with left ventricular reconstruction surgery .
Is It Possible To Prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest
Death is best treated by prevention. Most sudden death is associated with heart disease, so the at-risk population remains males older than 40 years of age who smoke, have high blood pressure, and diabetes . Other risks include syncope and known heart disease.
Syncope, or loss of consciousness, is a significant risk factor for sudden death. While some reasons for passing out are benign, there is always a concern that the reason was an abnormal heart rhythm that subsequently spontaneously corrected. The fear is that the next episode will be a sudden cardiac arrest. Depending on the healthcare provider’s suspicion based on the patient’s history, physical examination, laboratory tests, and EKG, the healthcare practitioner may recommend inpatient or outpatient heart monitoring to try to find a clue as to whether the passing out was due to a deadly heart rhythm. Unfortunately, the potentially suspect rhythm may not recur and depending on the situation, prolonged outpatient monitoring lasting weeks and months may be necessary. Use of electrophysiologic testing may help identify high-risk patients .
In people with symptoms of chest pain, aside from making the diagnosis, monitoring both the heart rate and rhythm are emphasized. The purpose of watching people with chest pain in a hospital setting is to prevent sudden cardiac arrest.
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Cleveland Clinic Heart Vascular & Thoracic Institute Cardiologists And Surgeons
Choosing a doctor to treat your abnormal heart rhythm depends on where you are in your diagnosis and treatment. The following Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute Sections and Departments treat patients with Arrhythmias:
- Section of Electrophysiology and Pacing: cardiology evaluation for medical management or electrophysiology procedures or devices – Call Cardiology Appointments at toll-free 800.223.2273, extension 4-6697 or request an appointment online.
- Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery: surgery evaluation for surgical treatment for atrial fibrillation, epicardial lead placement, and in some cases if necessary, lead and device implantation and removal. For more information, please contact us.
- You may also use our MyConsult second opinion consultation using the Internet.
The Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute has specialized centers to treat certain populations of patients: