Did We Answer Your Question About Heart Attack
For more information about heart attack, call the OWH Helpline at 1-800-994-9662 or check out the following resources from other organizations:
- Heart Attack â Information from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- Heart Attack â Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
How Are Heart Attacks Treated
Treating a heart attack means restoring blood flow to the affected heart muscle as soon as possible. This can happen in a variety of ways, ranging from medication to surgery. It’s extremely likely that treatment will use several of the following methods.
People having trouble breathing or with low blood oxygen levels will often receive supplementary oxygen along with other heart attack treatments. You can breathe the oxygen either through a tube that sits just below your nose or a mask that fits over your nose and mouth. This increases the amount of oxygen circulating in the blood and reduces the strain on your heart.
- Anti-clotting medications: This includes aspirin and other blood-thinning medicines.
- Nitroglycerin: This medicine is used to relieve chest pain. It also is a powerful vasodilator, meaning it causes blood vessels to widen so blood can pass through more easily.
- Thrombolytic medications: These intravenous medications cause blood clots to break down and dissolve. These medications are usually used only within the first 12 hours after a heart attack.
- Anti-arrhythmia medications: Heart attacks can often cause malfunctions in your hearts normal beating rhythm called arrhythmias. Some arrhythmias can be life-threatening. Anti-arrhythmia medications can stop or prevent these malfunctions.
- Pain medications: The most common pain medication given during heart attack care is morphine. This can help alleviate chest pain.
How Is Heart Attack Diagnosed
You may need several tests to determine the cause of your symptoms.
- Electrocardiogram . This test records the electrical activity of your heart. It can help diagnose heart rhythm problems. It can also find damage from a decrease in blood flow.
- Blood tests. When blood flow decreases, special proteins leak into the blood system. A blood test can detect these proteins. Your doctor may want to test your blood several times during the first 24 to 48 hours after yours symptoms start.
Other tests your doctor may want you to have include:
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Can I Prepare For It And What Should I Expect
For the most part, heart attacks are unpredictable and that means you cant prepare for this test.
Important:If you need to undergo a troponin test, tell your doctor if you take Vitamin B7 and what dose you take. This vitamin can interfere with the results, and your doctor will need to know about this beforehand. Depending on the dosage you take, it may be several hours before the biotin can no longer affect your results.
Under most circumstances, healthcare providers will treat a heart attack as a presumed positive using medication or less-invasive methods before getting the results of a troponin test. In many cases, they do this based on your symptoms or other test results because that saves precious time when minutes can make all the difference. If the results dont show elevated troponin levels after 12 hours, your provider can adjust how they care for you accordingly.
Complications From A Heart Attack
Potential complications from a heart attack can vary widely. They can range from mild to life-threatening.
Some people experience a “minor” heart attack with no associated complications. This is also known as an uncomplicated heart attack.
Other people experience a major heart attack, which has a wide range of potential complications. This may require extensive treatment.
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What Do The Results Mean
The cardiac enzyme test gives you a number measured in nanograms per milliliter . This tells your doctor how much of the enzyme is in your blood.
It can find even very small amounts. It takes 1 billion nanograms to make just 1 gram.
Labs test for enzymes in different ways, so whatâs normal depends on where you had the test done. Your doctor can help you understand what your numbers mean. Theyâll also give you a physical exam and look at other test results to get the full picture of whatâs happened.
What Happens If Something Is Detected On My Screening Exam
If screening tests reveal coronary artery disease, there are steps you can take to lower your risk for having a heart attack or worsening heart disease. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes such as a healthier diet, exercise and smoking cessation.Medications may also be necessary. Medicines can treat coronary artery disease risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat and low blood flow. In some cases, more advanced treatments and surgical procedures can help restore blood flow to the heart.
A negative cardiac CT for calcium scoring means no calcification was found within your coronary arteries, suggesting that coronary artery disease is absent or so minimal it cannot be seen by this technique. Under these circumstances, your chance of having a heart attack over the next two to five years is very low.
A positive cardiac CT for calcium scoring means that CAD is present, regardless of whether or not you are experiencing any symptoms. The amount of calcification is expressed as the calcium score. A score of 1 to 10 indicates minimal evidence of CAD, 11 to 100 indicates mild evidence, 101 to 400 represents moderate evidence of disease and a score of over 500 indicates extensive evidence of disease.
If coronary artery disease is present, steps to reduce the individual’s risk of heart attack and to manage symptoms include lifestyle changes, medications and if necessary, medical or surgical procedures such as:
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What Tests Will Be Done To Diagnose This Condition
Anyone with heart attack symptoms should undergo a physical examination, including checking pulse, blood oxygen levels, blood pressure, and listening to heart and lung sounds.
Other tests used to diagnose heart attack include:
- Electrocardiogram : This is one of the first tests done when someone comes to an ER with heart attack symptoms. This test uses sensors called electrodes that attach to the skin of your chest. The electrodes pick up electrical activity in the heart and show it as a wave on a display or printout. By looking at the wave, providers can see the strength and timing of the electrical signal as it travels through your heart. When the signal doesnt travel like it should, the shape of the wave changes, which can indicate a heart attack or similar problems. EKG for a heart attack is usually continuous to monitor for changes in heart activity.
STEMI and non-STEMI heart attacks
The wave of your heart’s electrical signal is divided into sections using letters of the alphabet starting at P and ending at U. One particular section of the wave, the ST segment, shows activity in the heart’s lower two chambers. Those chambers are the left ventricle and right ventricle.
- Blood tests. During a heart attack, the damage to heart muscle cells almost always causes a chemical marker to appear in your bloodstream. Blood tests that look for that marker are among the most reliable methods to diagnose a heart attack.
What Is The Normal Range For Cardiac Enzymes
Heart enzyme results vary depending on the specific cardiac enzyme and test. The tests measure enzyme levels in nanograms per milliliter .
Most people who dont have heart damage have troponin levels below 0.02 ng/mL. A higher number can point to severe heart damage.
Troponin and CPK levels can rise for up to 12 hours after heart damage occurs. For this reason, providers often order several cardiac enzyme tests spaced several hours apart.
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Blood Tests For Heart Disease
- LDL , the so-called “bad” cholesterol
- HDL , the so-called “good” cholesterol
How Do Healthcare Providers Use Cardiac Biomarkers
Treatments for these conditions vary. An accurate diagnosis is critical to ensuring you receive the appropriate care.
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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.
A1c Blood Glucose Test
How It Works: A blood test indicates your average level of blood sugar over the prior three months. Unlike other glucose tests that require fasting or drinking a sugary beverage, this test requires neither.
Duration: 5 minutes
Why It’s Heart Smart: “This is the simplest way to detect your future risk of diabetes,” Dr. Agatston says. This disease puts you at 5 times higher risk of developing heart diseaseyet 5.7 million Americans have undiagnosed diabetes because they haven’t had their blood sugar checked.
Get It If: You’re 45 or olderor earlier if you’re overweight and have one or more diabetes risk factors, such as family history, high triglycerides, or low HDL.
What the Results Mean: An A1C level between 4.5 and 6% is normal between 6 and 6.4 indicates prediabetes 6.5 or higher on two separate tests means you have diabetes.
Next Steps: The disease can often be reversed with weight loss, exercise, and dietary changes. If that’s not enough, you may need oral medication or insulin injections.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
Heart attacks can have a number of symptoms, some of which are more common than others. The symptoms you have are also influenced by your sex, as with men and women being more likely to have different heart attack symptoms.
Common heart attack symptoms
Symptoms most often described by people having a heart attack:
- Chest pain . This symptom can be mild and feel like discomfort or heaviness, or it can be severe and feel like crushing pain. It may start in your chest and spread to other areas like your left arm , shoulder, neck, jaw, back or down toward your waist.
- Shortness of breath or trouble breathing.
- Nausea or stomach discomfort. Heart attacks can often be mistaken for indigestion.
- Heart palpitations.
- Feeling lightheaded, dizzy or passing out.
Heart attack symptoms in women
Medical research in recent years has shown that women may have the above symptoms, but also have a higher chance of experiencing symptoms different from those listed above.Women are less likely to describe the following:
- Chest pain, especially in the center of the chest.
- Discomfort that feels like indigestion.
Women are more likely to describe the following:
- Shortness of breath, fatigue and insomnia that started before the heart attack.
- Pain in the back, shoulders, neck, arms or abdomen.
- Nausea and vomiting.
Are The Symptoms Of Heart Attack Different For Women
The most common heart attack symptom for women is pain or discomfort in the chest. However, women are more likely to have a heart attack without having any chest pain. Therefore, women should pay close attention to other symptoms of heart attack. These include shortness of breath, sweating, fatigue, and dizziness.
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What Is Cardiac Enzyme Testing
Cardiac Enzyme Testing is a test carried out by doctors to understand if the patient is having or has had a heart attack before. This test is also done in cases where patients have heart arteries blockage symptoms like pain in the chest, fatigue, feeling tired, breathing difficulty, etc. This test is more like any other blood test.
How Is A Heart Attack Diagnosed
To diagnose a heart attack, a doctor will ask you about your symptoms, your health, and your family health history. The doctor will also order tests.
Doctors often use these types of tests to diagnose a heart attack and choose the best treatment.
- Blood tests. During a heart attack, heart muscle cells die and burst open. This process releases proteins into your blood. Heart attack blood tests measure the amount of these protein “markers” of heart damage. Common heart attack blood tests include:
- Cardiac troponin . This is the most common blood test. This marker is released from the injured heart muscle. It is not found in the blood of healthy people. Troponin levels go up three to six hours after your heart attack starts, so the test may not find a heart attack right away.
- Creatine Kinase-MB . The CKMB test measures the amount of damage to the heart because of blocked blood flow. The test can tell whether treatments to restore blood flow to the heart are working. CKMB levels rise about four to six hours after a heart attack starts and peak 24 hours later.
- Myoglobin. This test helps diagnose a heart attack in the very early stages. After a heart attack, myoglobin levels rise within one to four hours but peak after 12 hours.
Do Women Fare Better Or Worse Than Men After A Heart Attack
Younger women under age 45 have a better outcome than men of a similar age. Scientists believe this is because of estrogen’s heart-protective effects. However, after menopause ends the protective benefits of estrogen, women fare worse than men. More specifically:
- Women between the ages of 45 and 65 who’ve had a heart attack are more likely to die within a year of the event compared with men of this same age.
- Women over age 65 are more likely to die within weeks of their heart attack than men over age 65.
How Do I Know If I Am At Risk For A Heart Attack
A heart attack can happen to anyone, woman or man, young or old. Some people are more at risk because of certain health problems, family health history, age, and habits. These are called risk factors.
You can’t change some risk factors, like your age, race or ethnicity, or family history. The good news is that you can change or control many risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and unhealthy eating.
Learn more about controllable and uncontrollable risk factors for heart disease.
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Research Shows A Better Way
Using data from almost 7,000 subjects, Johns Hopkins researchers compared two approaches to calculating heart risk. One way used only the traditional risk factors, like smoking, cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes. The other included the coronary calcium scan score. Results reported in 2013 in European Heart Journal showed that by looking at the coronary calcium scan, doctors could much better estimate heart disease risk, especially for those thought to be at low risk or high risk.
Fifteen percent of those thought to be at very low risk using traditional risk factors actually had high coronary artery calcium scores. And 35 percent of those thought to be at high risk showed no coronary artery calcium, and therefore a lower risk of heart events.
Heart Attack Types And Diagnosis
A heart attack is also called a myocardial infarction, sometimes simply referred to as an MI. A heart attack occurs when a blockage in one or more coronary arteries reduces or stops blood flow to the heart, which starves part of the heart muscle of oxygen.
The blood vessel blockage might be complete or partial:
- A complete blockage of a coronary artery means you suffered a STEMI heart attack which stands for ST-elevation myocardial infarction.
- A partial blockage translates to an NSTEMI heart attack a non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction.
Diagnostic steps differ for STEMI and NSTEMI heart attacks, although there can be some overlap.
Remember: Never try to diagnose yourself. Always dial 911 if you think you might be having a heart attack. The EMS crew in your ambulance will route you to the right hospital based on your location.
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