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.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
Heart attack symptoms can vary but the most common signs of a heart attack are:
- chest pain or discomfort that suddenly occurs and doesnt go away. It may feel like pressure, squeezing or heaviness in your chest. It can feel like indigestion or a burning sensation
- pain that may spread to your left or right arm or may spread to your neck, jaw, back or stomach
- feeling sick, sweaty, light-headed or short of breath.
Other less common symptoms include:
- a sudden feeling of anxiety that can feel similar to a panic attack
- excessive coughing or wheezing due to a build up of fluid in the lungs.
Pain levels can also vary from person to person. For some people the pain or tightness in their chest is severe, while other people just feel uncomfortable, or pain similar to indigestion. Heart attack symptoms can persist over days, or they can come on suddenly and unexpectedly.
What Does A Heart Attack Look Like
Most of us have a specific idea of what a heart attack looks like: someone feels an abrupt, strong pain that causes them to stop in their tracks and clutch their chest.
More than 1 million people in the United States suffer from a heart attack each year.
Most of us have a specific idea of what a heart attack looks like: someone feels an abrupt, strong pain that causes them to stop in their tracks and clutch their chest. While some heart attacks do happen suddenly, many start slowly, with pain or discomfort. A person can have symptoms for hours before they even realize theyre having a heart attack.
Simple lifestyle changes can improve heart health. A number of enjoyable activities, like sharing healthy meals with loved ones, regular exercise and maintaining positive mental health can help those recovering from a heart attack or trying to reduce the risk of developing issues.
Knowing what signs to look for can save critical time, and its important to be aware of the signs:
Types of heart attacks:
Early detection of a heart attack can help prevent damage to the heart, brain and body. If you witness someone having these symptoms, or you feel them yourself, its important to call 911 and seek medical attention immediately.
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When To Call 911
Heartburn, breathlessness and other subtle symptomsarent always heart attacks. How can you tell a minor ailment from a heartattack?
Its challenging, admits Dr. Menon. And thats abig reason why people dont get to the doctor sooner when theyre having aheart attack.
In general, call 911 if:
- Symptoms occur suddenly and persist for more than five to 10 minutes.
- Shortness of breath and chest discomfort occur while youre at rest.
- You develop symptoms and are a middle-aged or older adult and have a history of smoking, diabetes or a strong family history of heart disease. Although premenopausal women are usually protected from heart attacks, younger women who smoke, have diabetes or have ovarian dysfunction also are vulnerable.
It will take a clinical evaluation along with blood tests and an electrocardiogram to definitively diagnose a heart attack, says Dr. Menon.
Signs And Symptoms Of A Heart Attack In Women
Heart attack symptoms can vary from person to person but the most common signs of a heart attack are:
- chest pain or discomfort in your chest that suddenly occurs and doesn’t go away. It may feel like pressure, tightness or squeezing
- the pain may spread to your left or right arm or may spread to your neck, jaw, back or stomach
- you may also feel sick, sweaty, light-headed or short of breath.
Other less common symptoms include:
- a sudden feeling of anxiety that can feel similar to a panic attack
- excessive coughing or wheezing
If you think you’re having a heart attack, call 999 for an ambulance immediately.
Women may be less likely to seek medical attention and treatment quickly, despite the warning signs. This can dramatically reduce your chance of survival. Rapid treatment is essential, and the aim is to restore blood flow to the affected part of the heart muscle as soon as possible. This helps to limit the amount of damage to the heart.
- Learn more about heart attack symptoms.
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Q How Can I Test My Heart At Home
- Check pulse and heart rate: Feel your pulse to check your heart rate and rhythm. A pulse matches up with a heartbeat that pumps blood through your arteries and heart rate is the number of times your heart beats in one minute. The stronger the pulse, the better is the strength of your blood flow and blood pressure.
- Check Blood Pressure: When at rest, the normal blood pressure is less than 120 over less than 80. The reading of 130/80 or higher is high blood pressure. If you have a consistent high BP then there’s a probability of your heart being blocked.
- Blood Test: Check the sodium, potassium, albumin, and creatinine levels in your blood. Abnormal levels could suggest possible signs of heart failure, or kidney or liver problems.
What To Do When Youre Having A Heart Attack
- Chew one adult-strength aspirin to help keep your blood from clotting.
- Stay on the phone with the emergency operator as you wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself to the hospital.
If youre not sure its a heart attack, dont ignore your symptoms. Call for help anyway. If you are having a heart attack, the sooner you get to the hospital, the sooner your care team can work to restore blood flow and reduce further heart damage.
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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.
Heart Attack Ekg Evidence
The two clues that make it possible to identify a heart attack by type are ischemic EKG changes in the ST segment and the appearance of Q waves. The ST segment may become elevated, depressed, or may not change at all during a heart attack. If a change does occur it usually does not persist unless an aneurysm of the heart muscle forms, in which case it adjoins a Q wave. Q waves usually, but not always, form later in the process of the acute event or after it is complete.
Q waves might appear in leads where they were not prior to the heart attack or in place of R waves. When Q waves replace R waves the initial deflection representing contraction of the ventricles is downward rather than upward. Either type of change can appear in leads whose sensors face the damaged area of the heart.
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Q What Is Cardiac Arrest
Bill Schaffer 60 Mantua New Jersey
Bill Schaffer realizes he should have known better. The stabbing pain in the center of his back whenever he walked up or down stairs. The indigestion. The feeling that two fingers were squeezing the life out of his heart with every beat. He’s a retired EMT, after all. He witnessed people who had heart attacks nearly every day. He knew the symptoms, what they looked like, what his patients told him they felt like. But when he started experiencing the same sensations, he told his wife he needed to make an appointment to see the chiropractor.
It was summer 2016. Schaffer had just turned 57. It was hot outside, muggy. And every day the pain in his back intensified whenever he climbed the stairs. Until Saturday, Aug. 27, when his cousins came by. They spent the day together, and then had dinner. I started feeling a little funny prior to eating, Schaffer recalls sweaty without sweating, feverish without a fever. Then, during the meal he felt some indigestion. Still, he wasn’t concerned, and retired to the couch for a chat with his cousin. The pain was starting to build, he says. No longer did his heart feel like it was being squeezed now it was being crushed. It traveled to my shoulder and arms, and radiated to my jaw.
“That’s when I put the game together and knew I was having a heart attack.
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Waiting For An Ambulance
If you have had a heart attack, it’s important that you rest while you wait for an ambulance, to avoid unnecessary strain on your heart.
If aspirin is available and you are not allergic to it, slowly chew and then swallow an adult-size tablet while you wait for the ambulance.
Aspirin helps to thin your blood and improve blood flow to your heart.
How The Test Is Performed
You will be asked to lie down. The health care provider will clean several areas on your arms, legs, and chest, and then will attach small patches called electrodes to those areas. It may be necessary to shave or clip some hair so the patches stick to the skin. The number of patches used may vary.
The patches are connected by wires to a machine that turns the hearts electrical signals into wavy lines, which are often printed on paper. The doctor reviews the test results.
You will need to remain still during the procedure. The provider may also ask you to hold your breath for a few seconds as the test is being done.
It is important to be relaxed and warm during an ECG recording because any movement, including shivering, can alter the results.
Sometimes this test is done while you are exercising or under light stress to look for changes in the heart. This type of ECG is often called a stress test.
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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.
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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Common Heart Attack Treatments
Youll find many common heart attack treatments listed here. For more detailed explanations of these treatments, see our page devoted to cardiac procedures.
- Angioplasty: Special tubing with an attached deflated balloon is threaded up to the coronary arteries.
- Angioplasty, Laser: Similar to angioplasty except that the catheter has a laser tip that opens the blocked artery.
- Artificial heart valve surgery: Replaces an abnormal or diseased heart valve with a healthy one.
- Atherectomy: Similar to angioplasty except that the catheter has a rotating shaver on its tip to cut away plaque from the artery.
- Treats blocked heart arteries by creating new passages for blood to flow to your heart muscle.
- Cardiomyoplasty: An experimental procedure in which skeletal muscles are taken from a patients back or abdomen.
- Heart transplant: Removes a diseased heart and replaces it with a donated healthy human heart.
- Minimally invasive heart surgery: An alternative to standard bypass surgery.
- Radiofrequency ablation: A catheter with an electrode at its tip is guided through the veins to the heart muscle to destroy carefully selected heart muscle cells in a very small area.
- Stent procedure: A stent is a wire mesh tube used to prop open an artery during angioplasty.
- Transmyocardial revascularization : A laser is used to drill a series of holes from the outside of the heart into the hearts pumping chamber.
What’s The Difference Between Indigestion And A Heart Attack
Indigestion, or heartburn, is a feeling that usually comes on after eating. It causes a burning and uncomfortable sensation in your chest and abdomen, and often a sour taste in your mouth.If you havent experienced heartburn or indigestion before and you’re experiencing persistent burning chest pain or chest pain combined with other heart attack symptoms, phone 999 immediately.If youre prone to heartburn or indigestion and youre experiencing the same symptoms as usual, take the steps you usually would to ease your discomfort, such as taking some medicine and/or drinking water.If the burning feeling in your chests persists, or it begins to spread to your arms, neck or jaw, phone 999 immediately as you may be having a heart attack.
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What Do Normal And Abnormal Heart Rhythms Look Like On Apple Watch
Almost every month, a news storypops up about somebody whoselife was saved by their Apple Watch. As part of the mRhythm Study, were analyzing a lot of heart rate data, and decided to write a brief primer on what both normal and abnormal heart rhythms look like when measured on an Apple Watch.
Note: although we believe wearables can save livesand hope to play a part in making that happenthere is a lot of clinical groundwork that needs to happen first. Please dont take any of the below as medical advice.
Common Heart Attack Types And Treatments
The type of heart attack you experienced determines the treatments that your medical team will recommend. 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 blockage might be complete or partial:
- A complete blockage of a coronary artery means you suffered a STEMI heart attack or ST-elevation myocardial infarction.
- A partial blockage is an NSTEMI heart attack or a non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction
Treatments differ for a STEMI versus NSTEMI heart attack, although there can be some overlap.
Hospitals commonly use techniques to restore blood flow to part of the heart muscle damaged during a heart attack:
- You might receive clot-dissolving drugs , balloon angioplasty , surgery or a combination of treatments.
- About 36 percent of hospitals in the U.S. are equipped to use a procedure called percutaneous coronary intervention , a mechanical means of treating heart attack.
At a hospital equipped to administer PCI, you would likely be sent to a department that specializes in cardiac catheterization, sometimes called a cath lab. There, a diagnostic angiogram can examine blood flow to your heart and reveal how well your heart is pumping. Depending on the results of that procedure, you may be routed to one of three treatments: medical therapy only, PCI or coronary artery bypass grafting .
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