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How Long Can Heart Attack Symptoms Go On

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Ambulance And Emergency Room

Heart Attack Symptoms and Risks in Women

Treatment begins in the ambulance and emergency room. You may get oxygen if you need it. You may get morphine if you need pain relief.

The goal of your health care team will be to prevent permanent heart muscle damage by restoring blood flow to your heart as quickly as possible.

Treatment includes:

  • Nitroglycerin. It opens up the arteries of the heart to help blood flow back to the heart.
  • Beta-blockers. These drugs lower the heart rate, blood pressure, and the workload of the heart.

You also will receive medicines to stop blood clots. These are given to prevent blood clots from getting bigger so blood can flow to the heart. Some medicines will break up blood clots to increase blood flow. You might be given:

  • Aspirin, which you chew as soon as possible after calling 911.
  • Antiplatelet medicine.
  • Thrombolytics.

Sweating And/or Shortness Of Breath

As women age, a lack of exercise and gradual weight gain cause issues like shortness of breath. Hot flashes are a common complaint for many women during menopause.

But these symptoms can signala heart problem when they happen in certain situations:

  • Sudden sweating or shortness of breath without exertion.
  • Breathlessness that continues to worsen over time after exertion.
  • Shortness of breath that worsens when lying down and improves when propping up.
  • Stress sweat when there is no real cause for stress.
  • Sweating or shortness of breath accompanied by other symptoms such as chest pain or fatigue.

What Is Angina And Why Is Unstable Angina A Concern

Angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease. Angina occurs when there is not enough blood flow to the heart. Angina can be dangerous. So it is important to pay attention to your symptoms, know what is typical for you, learn how to control it, and know when to call for help.

Symptoms of angina include chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in the chest. Some people feel pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly, or in one or both shoulders or arms.

There are two types of angina:

  • Stable angina means that you can usually predict when your symptoms will happen. You probably know what things cause your angina. For example, you know how much activity usually causes your angina. You also know how to relieve your symptoms with rest or nitroglycerin.
  • Unstable angina means that your symptoms have changed from your typical pattern of stable angina. Your symptoms do not happen at a predictable time. For example, you may feel angina when you are resting. Your symptoms may not go away with rest or nitroglycerin.

Unstable angina is an emergency. It may mean that you are having a heart attack.

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Have Sex When You’re Ready

You can resume sexual activity after a heart attack when you are healthy and feel ready for it. You could be ready if you can do mild or moderate activity, like brisk walking, without having angina symptoms. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns. Your doctor can help you know if your heart is healthy enough for sex.

If you take a nitrate, like nitroglycerin, do not take erection-enhancing medicines. Combining a nitrate with one of these medicines can cause a life-threatening drop in blood pressure.

What To Do If You Recognize A Heart Attack

Heart attack: Symptoms and signs you are having a heart ...

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.

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When To Call The Doctor

If you have any signs of heart disease, call your health care provider right away. Don’t wait to see if the symptoms go away or dismiss them as nothing.

  • You have chest pain or other symptoms of a heart attack
  • You know you have angina and have chest pain that doesn’t go away after 5 minutes of rest or after taking nitroglycerine
  • You think you may be having a heart attack
  • You become extremely short of breath
  • You think you may have lost consciousness

I Thought I Had The Flu

Even though heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, women often chalk up the symptoms to less life-threatening conditions like acid reflux, the flu or normal aging.

They do this because they are scared and because they put their families first, Goldberg said. There are still many women who are shocked that they could be having a heart attack.

A heart attack strikes someone about every 43 seconds. It occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. This happens because the arteries that supply the heart with blood can slowly narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances .

Watch an animation of a heart attack.

Many women think the signs of a heart attack are unmistakable the image of the elephant comes to mind but in fact they can be subtler and sometimes confusing.

You could feel so short of breath, as though you ran a marathon, but you haven’t made a move, Goldberg said.

Some women experiencing a heart attack describe upper back pressure that feels like squeezing or a rope being tied around them, Goldberg said. Dizziness, lightheadedness or actually fainting are other symptoms to look for.

Many women I see take an aspirin if they think they are having a heart attack and never call 911, Goldberg said. But if they think about taking an aspirin for their heart attack, they should also call 911.

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Many Heart Attacks Go Unrecognized

Study Highlights Risk of Hidden Heart Attacks

Feb. 14, 2006 — People often have heart attacks and don’t realize it, according to a new study.

The study appears in the European Heart Journal. Its findings include:

  • In people aged 55 and older, 43% of heart attacks happened unrecognized until an incidental EKG was done, which showed evidence that one had occurred.
  • Women were more likely than men to have unrecognized heart attacks.

Heart attacks damage the heart, making future heart problems more likely. People with undetected heart attacks could have a false sense of confidence about their heart health, note the researchers.

They included Jacqueline Witteman, PhD, of the epidemiology and biostatistics department at Erasmus University in the Netherlands.

Early Symptoms Don’t Really Sound Like The Hollywood Heart Attack Experience Is That Typical

How Do Heart Attacks Differ In Men vs. Women? | Ask The Expert

There are two main ways that people present with heart attacks, Dr. Xu says:

  • Sudden A person may or may not have any symptoms previously, but all at once a plaque deposit ruptures, triggering a chain of events and a sudden heart attack.
  • Gradual The other presentation happens slowly as coronary disease progresses. In this situation, an artery is getting narrower over time. When the artery is narrowed down to more than 70 percent, a person will start to have warning symptoms ahead of time, especially with physical exertion.

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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 |

Symptoms Of A Heart Attack

Symptoms of a heart attack can include:

  • chest pain the chest can feel like it’s being pressed or squeezed by a heavy object, and pain can radiate from the chest to the jaw, neck, arms and back
  • feeling weak or lightheaded, or both
  • an overwhelming feeling of anxiety

It’s important to know that not everyone experiences severe chest pain. This is particularly the case with many women. The pain can often be mild and mistaken for indigestion.

It’s the combination of symptoms that’s important in determining whether a person is having a heart attack and not the severity of chest pain.

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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
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • 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

What Causes Heart Attacks

New Blood Test is Better, Fast at Diagnosing a Heart Attack

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 Causes A Heart Attack

Heart attacks happen when blood flow to the heart is blocked. This usually occurs because fatty deposits called plaque have built up inside the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart. If a plaque breaks open, the body tries to fix it by forming a clot around it. The clot can block the artery, preventing the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart.

This process of plaque buildup in the coronary arteries is called coronary artery disease, or CAD. In many people, plaque begins to form in childhood and gradually builds up over a lifetime. Plaque deposits may limit blood flow to the heart and cause angina. But too often, a heart attack is the first sign of CAD.

Things like intense exercise, sudden strong emotion, or illegal drug use can trigger a heart attack. But in many cases, there is no clear reason why heart attacks occur when they do.

When You See Your Doctor:

  • Bring a list of your symptoms and when they are occurring.
  • Let them know about any related family history.
  • Talk about stress or anything going on in your life that might contribute to a problem.

Your doctor likely willlisten to your symptoms and check your pulse and blood pressure. They may orderblood work, which will show whether your heart is damaged.

They also may use an electrocardiogram to tell whether the electrical activity of your heart is normal, or an echocardiogram to view images of the heart to see if damage has occurred.

All this is important inidentifying any problems and taking steps to intervene before a possible heartattack.

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Heart Attack Symptoms: Women Vs Men

Women may experience classic symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath as many men do, but they also tend to experience stomach pain, back pain, and other non-classic symptoms.

Because of the subtlety in those symptoms, many women brush off these warning signs and already have heart damage by the time they get to the Emergency Department.

And many women put their families before their own health. But you cant take care of your loved ones if your own health is not where it needs to be.

Anxiety And Depression After A Heart Attack

Know the Early Warning Signs of a Heart Attack?

After a heart attack, many people worry about having another heart attack. Sometimes they feel depressed and have trouble adjusting to new lifestyle changes.

Talk about how you feel with your health care team. Talking to a professional counselor also can help. If you’re very depressed, your doctor may recommend medicines or other treatments that can improve your quality of life.

Joining a patient support group may help you adjust to life after a heart attack. You can see how other people who have the same symptoms have coped with them. Talk with your doctor about local support groups or check with an area medical center.

Support from family and friends also can help relieve stress and anxiety. Let your loved ones know how you feel and what they can do to help you.

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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 attacks can be associated with or lead to severe health problems, such as heart failure and life-threatening arrhythmias.

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.

What Are The Differences In Heart Attack Symptoms For Men And Women

Its a common misconception that men and women experience different symptoms when having a heart attack. While symptoms vary from person to person, there are no symptoms that women experience more or less often than men. Women are more likely to dismiss the idea that they may be having a heart attack and delay seeking medical attention. Its important to recognise the symptoms of a heart attack, take them seriously and act quickly to prevent damaging the heart muscle.

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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.

Tips For Heart Attack Prevention

5 heart attack warning signs never to ignore

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

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Discomfort That Lessens With Exercise

If a sharp pain strikes your chest but improves as you move around a bit well, you may be looking at a case of heartburn or some other gastrointestinal issue.

An estimated 15 million Americans a day experience heartburn, which brings an uncomfortable burning feeling in your chest and a sour feeling in your throat. An over-the-counter antacid can help bring some relief.

What Increases Your Risk

Coronary artery disease is the major cause of heart attacks. So the more risk factors you have for CAD, the greater your risk for unstable angina or a heart attack. The main risks for CAD are:

  • Smoking.
  • Family history of early CAD.
  • Age. The risk increases in men after age 45 and in women after age 55.

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