What Are The Complications Of A Heart Attack
Complications associated with heart attacks include:
- Arrhythmias : Management options include medication, pacemaker placement, implantable cardioverter defibrillator placement and other options.
- Heart failure: If enough heart tissue has died, your heart is now weakened and cant pump blood effectively, which can lead to heart failure.
- Heart valve problems: Depending on the area of heart damage, your heart valves may be affected. Catheter-based procedures or surgery are treatment options for heart valve problems.
- Sudden cardiac arrest: This sudden stoppage of your heart can be caused by arrhythmia.
- Depression and anxiety: Talk to your healthcare provider. Management includes medication and counseling. Joining a support group can help.
Who Is Most At Risk For A Heart Attack
Several key factors affect your risk of having a heart attack. Unfortunately, some of these risk factors aren’t things you can control.
- If you have certain health conditions or diseases.
Age and sex
Your risk of heart attack increases as you get older, and your sex also influences when your risk of a heart attack starts to increase:
- Men: The risk of heart attack increases greatly at age 45.
- Women: The risk of heart attack increases greatly at age 50 or after menopause.
If you have a parent or sibling with a history of heart disease or heart attack especially at a younger age your risk is even greater. That risk increases with the following:
- Your father or a brother who was diagnosed with heart disease at age 55 or younger.
- Your mother or a sister who was diagnosed with heart disease at age 65 or younger.
The lifestyle choices you make can also affect your risk of having a heart attack. The following lifestyle factors increase your risk of heart attack:
- Lack of physical activity.
- Eating disorders .
When To Seek Emergency Care
If youre experiencing any of the following symptoms, especially symptoms that dont go away or get worse, you should seek medical attention immediately:
- severe chest pain, discomfort, or pressure
- pain that spreads to the jaw, neck, back, or shoulders
- difficulty breathing or gasping for air
- chills or a cold sweat
- nausea or vomiting
When in doubt, dont wait to see if these symptoms will pass instead, call emergency services right away.
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Heart Attack Warning Signs
Heart attack is a leading cause of death in New Zealand. Learn to recognise the warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack, so you know what to do if you see or experience them.
Minutes matter – if you think you are having a heart attack, call 111 now.
Too many New Zealanders die or live with permanent disability because of the lack of awareness of heart attack warning signs and delays in seeking medical help. Even if you have had a heart attack, you may experience another – and next time, the symptoms can be different
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
- Prevent plaques by lowering cholesterol
Know the names of your medications, what theyâre used for, and when you need to take them. Go over your medications with your doctor or nurse. Keep a list of all your medications, and take it to each of your doctor visits. If you have questions about them, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
It sounds like a no-brainer, but don’t skip your medications. Many people don’t take their medications the way their doctor told them to. Figure out what keeps you from taking your medicine — it could be side effects, cost, or forgetfulness — and ask your doctor for help.
What lifestyle changes are needed after a heart attack?
To keep heart disease from getting worse and to head off another heart attack, follow your doctor’s advice. You might need to change your lifestyle. Here are some changes you can make that can cut your risk and put you on the path to a healthier life:
Why should I take part in cardiac rehabilitation?
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Take The Ehac Oath With Us
We encourage you to start taking care of your heart health today. We can kick this commitment off by taking the EHAC oath together.
I understand that heart attacks have beginnings and on occasion, signs of an impending heart attack may include chest discomfort, shortness of breath, shoulder and/or arm pain and weakness. These may occur hours or weeks before the actual heart attack. I solemnly swear that if happens to me or anyone I know I will call 9-1-1 or activate Emergency Medical Services.
Types Of Heart Attacks
The scientific term for a heart attack is myocardial infarction or MI for short. There are different kinds of heart attacks, and the severity, diagnosis and treatment for each may be different.
What all heart attacks have in common is that something is preventing oxygen-containing, nutrient-rich blood from getting to the heart muscle. The amount of damage to the heart will depend on the type of heart attack, the severity of blockage and the time it took to get treated.
Heres what you need to know about the types of heart attacks:
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Testing: What To Expect
The hours following a heart attack can be scary and confusing. Your medical team may be incredibly busy and focused, and hard-pressed to explain everything thats happening.
You and your caregivers are sure to have questions. You may wonder about the tests and procedures that are being performed.
In the section below, youll find descriptions of the kinds of diagnostic procedures you may encounter as your doctors strive to identify the underlying causes of your heart attack.
What Do These Early Symptoms Typically Look Like
Dr. Xu says the majority of patients experience somewhat typical symptoms, such as radiating chest pain, heaviness or discomfort, heart palpitations, cold sweats, and shortness of breath. Others — women more so than men — will experience some atypical symptoms as well, which may include fatigue, a general sense of unease, vague discomfort, back or abdominal pain and declining stamina. Both types of symptoms can be experienced months before an actual heart attack occurs.
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Heart Attack Symptoms In Men Vs Women
All heart attacks are not created equally, and that is especially true when it comes to the difference in symptoms between men and women. Knowing how to identify heart attack symptoms is critical to getting treatment quicker and saving valuable heart muscle. Dr. Tara Jarreau of Louisiana Cardiology Associates offers the following advice on recognizing heart attack symptoms.
Studies have shown there is a distinct disparity between men and women when it comes to the heart. For example, women have smaller hearts and smaller arteries than men do. This could be why the symptoms of a heart attack are different for women than men.
Common symptoms of a heart attack for both men and women include:
- Chest pain. For men, it can feel like uncomfortable pressure or squeezing of the chest. For women, the pain could be radiating or non-radiating. Research shows that almost half of women said they did not experience chest pain at anytime during a heart attack.
- Jaw or shoulder pain
- Weakness and shortness of breath
Unique symptoms for women include:
- Fatigue, often the first and most unrecognized symptom
- Back pain between the shoulder blades
- Unique symptoms for men include:
- Pain in one or both arms
- Back or stomach pain
- Abdominal discomfort that may feel like indigestion
Tips for Prevention
Treating A Heart Attack
National Institutes of Health , its not uncommon for medical professionals to start treating a suspected heart attack before a diagnosis is made, and this is because fast treatment can save lives.
Aspirin is often one of the first medications administered during a heart attack to help thin the blood and prevent the formation of additional clots. In addition, thrombolytics can be used to help break up any clots that may be present, while nitrates may be prescribed to help the heart and arteries pump blood more easily.
In severe heart attacks, surgical or nonsurgical procedures may be necessary to help stop the attack and restore blood flow to the heart:
- Percutaneous coronary intervention : A PCI is the most common nonsurgical intervention for severe heart attacks. During a PCI, the doctor uses catheters to identify areas of damage to the heart, as well as reopen any blocked arteries.
- Stenting: In some cases, a stent may be inserted during the PCI to help hold any weak or narrow arteries open. Inserting a stent into these arteries can help restore blood flow to the heart.
- Coronary artery bypass grafting : A CABG is a surgical procedure in which healthy arteries from elsewhere in the body are attached to the arteries above and below the blocked artery. By bypassing the blocked artery, blood flow can be restored to the heart.
Its common for people to confuse the symptoms of a panic attack versus a heart attack, so here are a few more things to keep in mind.
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Prevention Of Heart Attacks
You can help prevent a heart attack by knowing your risk factors for coronary artery disease and heart attack and taking action to lower those risks. Even if youve already had a heart attack or are told that your chances of having a heart attack are high, you can still lower your risk, most likely by making a few lifestyle changes that promote better health.
- Dont smoke. Your doctor may recommend methods for quitting, including nicotine replacement.
- Eat a diet low in fat, cholesterol and salt.
- See your doctor regularly for blood pressure and cholesterol monitoring.
- Pursue a program of moderate, regular aerobic exercise. People over age 50 who have led a sedentary lifestyle should check with a doctor before beginning an exercise program.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Your doctor may advise you to take a low dose of aspirin regularly. Aspirin reduces the tendency for the blood to clot, thereby decreasing the risk of heart attack. However, such a regimen should only be initiated under a doctors expressed recommendation.
- Women at or approaching menopause should discuss the possible cardio-protective benefits of estrogen replacement therapy with their doctor.
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.
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How Do A Panic Attack And A Heart Attack Feel Different
In the moment, it may feel impossible to decide if your uncomfortable symptoms are more than just a panic attack. Here are some of the ways to distinguish between the two.
For most people, a panic attack usually only lasts for about 10 minutes. When it starts, it comes on very suddenly, sometimes in response to a trigger, and tends to peak within that time. Most panic attack symptoms will disappear within 30 minutes although sometimes they can take a few hours to fully go away.
When someone is having a heart attack, however, the symptoms can come on gradually or suddenly and usually do so after exertion. A heart attack can cause pain that ranges from a sharp pain to a crushing sensation, and this pain often spreads to the jaw, neck, or back. Rather than disappearing within a short time, the symptoms of a heart attack can last for hours.
Early Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
A lot of heart damage happens in the first 2 hours following a heart attack, which means that paying attention to any early symptoms is critical. The sooner you receive help for a heart attack, the better.
According to the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care, early heart attack symptoms may occur in 50 percent of all people who have heart attacks.
Early symptoms of heart attack can include the following:
- mild pain or discomfort in your chest that may come and go, which is also called stuttering chest pain
nearly twice the rate that women do. Men also have heart attacks earlier in life compared to women. If you have a family history of heart disease or a history of cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity, or other risk factors, your chances of having a heart attack are even higher.
Symptoms of a heart attack in men include:
- standard chest pain/pressure that feels like an elephant is sitting on your chest, with a squeezing sensation, heaviness, or pressure in the chest that may come and go or remain constant and intense
- upper body pain or discomfort, including arms, left shoulder, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
- rapid or irregular heartbeat
- stomach discomfort that feels like indigestion
- shortness of breath, which may leave you feeling like you cant get enough air, even when youre resting
- dizziness or feeling like youre going to pass out
- breaking out in a cold sweat
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Heart Attack Symptoms In Men #: Cold Sweats And Dizziness
The more vague signs of a heart attack in men include breaking out in a cold sweat, feeling sick to your stomach, or experiencing lightheadedness. The dizziness that might hit you may be so strong that you faint.
You may not have any of these symptomsor you may experience all of them, as well as chest pain and difficulty breathing.
Angina And Heart Attacks
Angina is a syndrome caused by the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart becoming restricted.
People with angina can experience similar symptoms to a heart attack, but they usually happen during exercise and pass within a few minutes.
However, occasionally, people with angina can have a heart attack. It’s important to recognise the difference between the symptoms of angina and those of a heart attack. The best way to do this is to remember that the symptoms of angina can be controlled with medicine, but symptoms of a heart attack cannot.
If you have angina, you may have been prescribed medicine that improves your symptoms within 5 minutes. If the first dose does not work, a second dose can be taken after 5 minutes, and a third dose after a further 5 minutes.
If the pain persists, despite taking 3 doses of glyceryl trinitrate over 15 minutes, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.
Page last reviewed: 28 November 2019 Next review due: 28 November 2022
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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.
Development Of Medical Testing
A number of advances introduced mostly in the 19th century, allowed for more objective assessment by the physician in search of a diagnosis, and less need of input from the patient. During the 20th century the introduction of a wide range of imaging techniques have made a huge impact on diagnostic capability. Other developments in the field of genetics, medical biochemistry, and molecular diagnostics have also played major roles.
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Can I Prevent Having A Heart Attack
In general, there are many things that you can do that may prevent a heart attack. However, some factors beyond your control especially your family history can still lead to a heart attack despite your best efforts. Still, reducing your risk can postpone when you have a heart attack and reduce the severity if you have one.
How Soon After Treatment Will I Feel Better
In general, your heart attack symptoms should decrease as you receive treatment. You will likely have some lingering weakness and fatigue during your hospital stay and for several days after. Your healthcare provider will give you guidance on rest, medications to take, etc.
Recovery from the treatments also varies, depending on the method of treatment. The average hospital stay for a heart attack is between four and five days. In general, expect to stay in the hospital for the following length of time:
- Medication only: Patients treated with medication only have an average hospital stay of approximately six days.
- PCI: Recovering from PCI is easier than surgery because it’s a less invasive method for treating a heart attack. The average length of stay for PCI is about four days.
- CABG: Recovery from heart bypass surgery takes longer because it is a major surgery. The average length of stay for CABG is about seven days.
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