What Should I Do If I Think Im Having A Heart Attack
The first thing you must do is dial 999 immediately for an ambulance.;Dont worry if youre not completely sure whether your symptoms are a heart attack, its really important that you seek medical attention regardless as quickly as possible.;
Next, you should:
- take a 300mg aspirin if you have one within arms reach
- stay calm and wait for the paramedics.
People often dismiss that theyre having a heart attack and will delay seeking medical attention.;If youre with someone whos experiencing heart attack symptoms but theyre putting off or refusing to call an ambulance, its really important that you call one for them.;
Waiting For An Ambulance
It may be helpful to take an aspirin tablet, ideally 300 milligrams, while waiting for an ambulance. A person can take an aspirin tablet if they do not have an allergy to it and if a doctor or member of the emergency services team has recommended it.
Aspirin is a blood-thinning medication that may help restore some blood flow to the heart.
A person should make sure that they have taken any prescribed heart medication as instructed while they are waiting for the ambulance to arrive. These medications may include nitroglycerin or beta-blockers.
How Much What Type And How To Take It
The current recommendation for people who may be having a heart attack is to;chew and swallow one non-coated adult aspirin as soon as possible. Chewing or crushing the aspirin gets it into your bloodstream more quicklywithin four to five minutesand researchers have measured a significant effect on platelets within that short period of time.
Swallowing a whole aspirin with water, as you normally would, takes 10 to 12 minutes to achieve the same effect. This time difference may seem small, but, once again, minutes count when your heart is at risk.
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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.
About Half Of All Heart Attacks Are Mistaken For Less Serious Problems And Can Increase Your Risk Of Dying From Coronary Artery Disease
You can have a heart attack and not even know it. A silent heart attack, known as a silent myocardial infarction , account for 45% of heart attacks and strike men more than women.
They are described as “silent” because when they occur, their symptoms lack the intensity of a classic heart attack, such as extreme and pressure; stabbing pain in the arm, neck, or jaw; sudden shortness of breath; sweating, and dizziness.
“SMI symptoms can feel so mild, and be so brief, they often get confused for regular discomfort or another less serious problem, and thus men ignore them,” says Dr. Jorge Plutzky, director of the vascular disease prevention program at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
For instance, men may feel fatigue or physical discomfort and chalk it up to overwork, poor sleep, or some general age-related ache or pain. Other typical symptoms like mild pain in the throat or chest can be confused with gastric reflux, indigestion, and .
Also, the location of pain is sometimes misunderstood. With SMI, you may feel discomfort in the center of the chest and not a sharp pain on the left side of the chest, which many people associate with a heart attack. “People can even feel completely normal during an SMI and afterward, too, which further adds to the chance of missing the warning signs,” says Dr. Plutzky.
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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.
Heart Attacks In Older Adults
Your risk for a heart attack and cardiovascular disease increases after age 65.
This is due to age-related changes that can occur in the heart, including high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries .
Having a heart attack as an older adult also comes with special considerations.
Diet and exercise training are crucial for future heart attack prevention, but it may take longer to recover. Older adults may also be at a higher risk for cognitive issues and reduced functional movements.
To reduce the long-term effects of a heart attack, its recommended that older adults be especially vigilant about increasing physical activity when theyre able.
This will help strengthen the heart muscle and protect it from future damage.
Another consideration is trying to reduce your blood pressure, as needed. Hypertension is the most common heart-related condition in adults over age 75.
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What Is A Heart Attack
A heart attack happens when something blocks the blood flow to your heart so it canât get the oxygen it needs.
More than a million Americans have heart attacks each year. Heart attacks are also called myocardial infarctions . “Myo” means muscle, “cardial” refers to the heart, and “infarction” means death of tissue because of a lack of blood supply. This tissue death can cause lasting damage to your 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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Early Signs Of A Heart Attack
Are your vague symptoms just fatigue or something serious? Learn the early warning signs that could signal a heart attack.
Sutter Medical Foundation
Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento
Many of us have experienced that;moment. Perhaps were driving in traffic or working out at the gym when we feel a twinge in our chest, or an aggressive pulse. Or maybe we just dont feel right. We might pause at these moments and wonder if its time to hightail it the doctor or if this is normal.
The reality is people can notice subtle heart attack symptoms months before an actual event occurs, says Sutter Zi-Jian Xu, M.D., a cardiologist in the Sutter Health network.
Dr. Xu frequently discusses heart attack symptoms and prevention with his patients. Heres what you need to know.
Why The First Hours Are Critical
For anyone having a heart attack, getting rapid medical attention is absolutely critical. Both the short-term and the long-term consequences of a heart attack are largely determined by how much of the heart muscle dies. With rapid and aggressive medical treatment, the blocked artery can usually be opened quickly, thus preserving most of the heart muscle.
If treatment is delivered within three or four hours, much of the permanent muscle damage can be avoided. But if treatment is delayed beyond five or six hours, the amount of heart muscle that can be saved drops off significantly. After about 12 hours, the damage is often irreversible.
Cardiac arrests can occur within the first few hours of a heart attack or during recovery. If a cardiac arrest occurs in the hospital, there is an excellent chance it can be treated. Unfortunately, the risk of sudden cardiac arrest is heightened after a heart attack, especially within the first year.
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The Different Types Of Bypass Artery Vs Vein
When asking, how long does heart bypass surgery last? Its very important to understand the different types of bypass grafts used. The most important one is called the LIMA and is an artery that runs on the inside of the chest wall on the left side of the body. This artery is carefully taken down from the chest wall and almost always attached to the main artery that runs down the front of the heart called the LAD .
The other type of bypass graft we will talk about is called an SVG that is taken from the leg and is a vein used as a bypass. Although there are other types of artery bypasses , for the purposes of this article I will concentrate on the LIMA and the SVG, as they are by far the most commonly used in the US.
Heart Attack With Stents
A stent is used to reduce the chances of a heart attack. This wire-mesh tube is inserted into a blocked artery to help increase blood flow to your heart. The stent is left in place permanently to improve your condition.
When done with a coronary angioplasty, a stent placement opens your arteries and increases blood flow to the heart muscle. Stents reduce your overall risk of experiencing narrowing of that same artery.
However, its still possible to have a heart attack in the future from a different clogged artery. Thats why adopting heart-healthy lifestyle habits is so impotant.
Making these changes can play an important role in helping prevent a future attack.
As a rule of thumb, you should see your doctor right away if you experience chest pain even after a stent placement. In the rare event that a stent closes, youll need surgery to open the artery up again.
Its also possible to experience a blood clot after getting a stent, which could increase your risk of a heart attack.
Your doctor will likely recommend taking aspirin, as well as prescription anti-clotting drugs, such as ticagrelor or clopidogrel to prevent blood clots.
A heart-healthy lifestyle can complement a medical treatment plan for heart disease. Consider your current lifestyle habits and look for ways you might improve them.
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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.
Risk Factors And Symptoms
Its 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 persons 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 persons heart rate and blood pressure to increase, can lead to a ruptured plaque, she said.
But this doesnt mean that people shouldnt 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 bodys demand for oxygen goes up, and if a person has a blockage in their arteries, its 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 persons 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.;
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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.
Heart Attack Symptoms In Women
Heart disease is not a mans disease.
Heart disease is the number one killer of women. It is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.
One in thirty-one US women die from cancer each year. One in three die from a heart attack annually.
Protect yourself by knowing your risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity, smoking, menstruation has stopped, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, physical inactivity, and family history of arteriosclerotic heart disease before age 60.
According to Dr. Larry Weinrauch, very few pre-menopausal women have heart attacks, unless they smoke, have diabetes, or are on birth control pills for a long period of time. Smoking seems to be the biggest risk factor.
Heart disease symptoms can be different for women than men, which can lead to misdiagnosis and/or delayed treatment.
Heart attack warning signs for women:
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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
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.
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