Treatment For A Heart Attack
Understandably, treatment for those diagnosed with heart attack can be complex. But this section on heart attack treatments will help you talk with your doctors and healthcare providers.
As you learn about your treatment plan, dont be afraid to ask questions. Be sure to voice any concerns you may have.
What Is A Silent Heart Attack And What Are The Warning Signs
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AARPs recent article entitled 8 Warning Signs of a Silent Heart Attack That Are Easy to Overlook explains that these so-called silent heart attacks account for about 20% of all heart attacks, according to the American Heart Association. Some experts estimate that number is even higher closer to half.
A heart attack occurs when the arteries that carry blood to the heart become blocked, depriving the heart of oxygen and nutrients. If an individual having a heart attack feels pain or pressure, it is because of this blockage, says Eduardo Marban, M.D., executive director of the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Few people actually exhibit no symptoms. However, the signs of a heart attack can be muted or confused with other conditions. Heres what to look out for:
One way to tell if the symptoms youre experiencing are from a heart attack or another condition is to know that the warning signs of heart trouble are not positional. This means that the sprain-like pain in your arm wont get better if you stretch. Shortness of breath or sweating also wont subside if you take it easy and lie down.
- Excess weight
- Tobacco use and
- A family history of heart disease.
Signs And Symptoms Of Heart Attack
If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.
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What You Can Do Now To Prevent An Early Heart Attack
Although some risk factors are beyond your control, there are many thingsyou can do to protect your heart health. It’s estimated that 80% of heartdisease, including heart attacks and strokes, can be prevented throughlifestyle changes, such as:
- Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese increases your heart disease risk. Get tips on how to watch your weight.
- Eating a heart-healthy diet: Avoid processed foods and excess sugar. Eat a diet rich in whole, nutritious foods .
- Exercising regularly: A consistent workout routine can boost your heart health. Aim for at least 150 minutes per week. Learn the kinds of exercise that can boost heart health.
Cardiac Arrest Vs Heart Attack
Sometimes there is confusion between the terms “cardiac arrest” and “heart attack.” A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, is damage to the heart muscle that occurs due to reduced blood flow to the heart muscle, depriving the heart muscle of the oxygen it needs to function properly.
Cardiac arrest means that the heart stops beating and death is imminent. A heart attack, if severe, can lead to cardiac arrest, and this is what occurs when a heart attack is fatal. However, other conditions, such as serious arrhythmias or shock, can also cause cardiac arrest.
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Symptoms Of Heart Attack In Women:
- Unusual pain in your neck, chest, shoulder, jaw, abdomen and/or through to your back
- Feeling short of breath, sweaty
- Racing of your heart or feeling of fluttering
- Nausea and vomiting
If you experience one or more of these symptoms, then you should get immediate medical attention.
Feelings of embarrassment and not wanting to be a burden on others are major reasons why women tend to delay seeking treatment. It is important to identify any problems and take the necessary steps to intervene before a possible heart attack.
Surprising Signs You May Be Having A Heart Attack
Luis Astudillo, M.D. contributes to topics such as Cardiology.
When people have heart attacks in movies, they usually clutch their chests dramatically, break out in a cold sweat and drop to the floor. In real life, some people experience heart attacks this way, but there are many other less obvious symptoms which may indicate that someone is having a heart attack.
Its important to know all of the signs including subtler ones to ensure that you get the emergency care that you need.
Many people who have heart attacks dont have classic symptoms, so they may think that theyre experiencing indigestion, fatigue or muscle soreness from physical exertion, says Luis Astudillo, M.D., a cardiologist at Palisades Medical Center. Women and older adults in particular may not exhibit the typical signs that many people would immediately recognize.
Heart Attack Warning Signs
Pain, squeezing, fullness, burning, tightness, or uncomfortable pressure in the center of the chest
Pain, numbness, pinching, prickling, or other uncomfortable sensations in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach
Sudden nausea or vomiting or unexplained indigestion
Lightheadedness or dizziness
Sudden heat or flushing, or a cold sweat
Heaviness, weakness, or pain in one or both arms
Racing or fluttering heart
What Are The Symptoms Of Heart Attacks In Women
Until recently, research on heart attacks focused mainly on men. However, studies now show that some of the symptoms of heart attacks in women are different from those in men.
Too often, the signs of heart attacks go unnoticed in women . They may think that other health problems or drug side effects are causing their symptoms or that the symptoms will go away on their own. As a result, women don’t always get the health care they need to prevent complications or death from a heart attack.
Chest pain is the most common symptom in both sexes, but women may also experience these other symptoms:
- unusual fatigue that gets worse with activity
- difficulty breathing
- heartburn that is unrelieved by antacids
- nausea and/or vomiting that is unrelieved by antacids
- tightening and pain in the chest that may extend into the neck, jaws and shoulders
- general feeling of weakness
Some women may have few of these symptoms, while others may have all of them at the same time. Symptoms may suddenly appear and then disappear. Also, women often report symptoms up to one month before the heart attack. If a woman has any of these symptoms and thinks she may be having a heart attack, she should immediately call emergency or go to the nearest emergency medical centre.
Signs Of Heart Trouble: Youre Bloated
Bloating is commonparticularly after eating a super salty mealbut it can also be caused by congestive heart failure. This is because the heart is too weak to properly pump blood through the body, which causes fluids to build up throughout the body.
Generally, youll notice swelling in the legs feet, ankles, legs or stomach, according to the American Heart Association. You may even gain weight unexpectedly or notice that your shoes are too tight. If youre suddenly bloated , it may be time to visit the doctor.
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 .
Heart Attack Testing: Faq
Q: Why do I have to submit to a bunch of tests?A: Tests help the doctor determine if a heart attack occurred, how much your heart was damaged and what degree of coronary artery disease you might have. The tests screen your heart and help the doctor determine what treatment and lifestyle changes will keep your heart healthy and prevent serious future medical events.
Q: Whats the difference between invasive and non-invasive tests?A: Non-invasive cardiac tests measure your hearts activity through external imaging and electrocardiography. Invasive tests include drawing and testing samples of your blood, and inserting and threading a thin hollow tube called a catheter into a blood vessel to get an inside view.
Q: How can I learn more about the tests that may be performed?A: These diagnostic tests and procedures can reveal if you had a heart attack, how much damage was done and what degree of coronary artery disease you have.
Q: What types of treatment will I get after the hospital diagnoses my heart attack?A: If youve had a heart attack, you may have already had undergone certain procedures to help you survive your heart attack. Those same procedures can help to diagnose your condition. Such procedures include:
Know Your Heart Care Options
You cant predict if a heart attack will happen. But knowing where you can get the right heart care is one thing you can do. Our nationally recognized cardiac centers include:
- Regions Hospital Heart Center in St. Paul, MN, is consistently recognized as one of the nations top cardiac centers. Youll get the highest level of care in every situation, starting with emergency treatment all the way through the recovery process.
- Park Nicollet Heart and Vascular Center, located in St. Louis Park, MN, is nationally recognized for offering outstanding, responsive care for heart attacks and other cardiac conditions. This center is accredited as a Mission: Lifeline® Heart Attack Receiving Center by the American Heart Association, so you can expect first-rate treatment, especially in time-sensitive situations.
- Cardiac rehabilitation services are offered across the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin. Recovering from a heart attack takes time, but you dont have to go through it alone. We offer personalized cardiac rehabilitation at seven convenient locations, so its easy to get the support you and your heart need.
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Sign Of Potential Heart Attack: Your Erection Falters
Erections occur when more blood flows into your penis, making it firm and hard. But if those blood vessels are damaged, blood flows less freely, meaning youre less likely to get an erection, or maintain an erection, when aroused. Thats a main cause of erectile dysfunction.
As Segal explains, if your blood vessels down there are damaged, theres a good chance the ones near your heart could be damaged as well.
A major cause of this blood vessel damage is plaque buildup. When that occurs in the vessels to your heart, you could be at risk of a heart attack, he says.
Having a one-time performance problem isnt likely a big dealit could just mean youre tired or stressed. But if the issue persists after a few sessions in the sack, it could be a sign of something more serious.
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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You Feel Dizzy Or Lightheaded
A lot of things can make you lose your balance or feel faint for a moment. Maybe you didnât have enough to eat or drink, or you stood up too fast.
But if you suddenly feel unsteady and you also have chest discomfort or shortness of breath, call a doctor right away.
“It could mean your blood pressure has dropped because your heart isn’t able to pump the way it should,” Bufalino says.
Are There Complications Of A Heart Attack
Complications following a heart attack can include:
- Arrhythmia your heart may develop an irregular heartbeat following a heart attack due to damaged heart muscles disrupting electrical signals.
- Heart failure your heart may have ongoing difficulty pumping enough blood, due to its muscles being too weak or stiff.
- Cardiogenic shock where your whole body goes into shock from extensive heart muscle damage.
- Heart rupture this is a rare but serious complication in which the hearts muscles, walls or valves split apart.
These can be dangerous if untreated, but your healthcare team will help to manage them if they occur.
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Causes Of A Heart Attack
Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of heart attacks.
CHD is a condition in which the major blood vessels that supply the heart get clogged with deposits of cholesterol, known as plaques.
Before a heart attack, 1 of the plaques bursts , causing a blood clot to develop at the site of the rupture.
The clot may block the supply of blood to the heart, triggering a heart attack.
Early Heart Attack Symptoms
While most heart attacks are sudden and unmistakable, some might come on more gradually, Dr. Abdallah says. Some of the common early warning signs include:
- Pressure or tightnessin the chest .
- Pain in the arm,jaw, neck or back.
- Cold sweats.
- Unusual fatigue.
Anybody young or old, male or female can experience these subtle signs, though its more common in women.
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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.
Chest Pain Pressure Squeezing And Fullness
Picture someone having a heart attack, and chances are you imagine them gasping for air and clutching their chest before falling unconscious. While you may experience chest pain during a heart attack, it may not be as dramatic. In some cases, it may not even be described as pain. Instead, it may feel more like pressure or squeezing in the chest.
Chest pain or chest discomfort is caused by an insufficient supply of oxygen-rich blood to your heart. During a heart attack, you may feel this pain in the center of the chest. It can last for a few minutes and disappear, or it may recur after a short break.
This symptom is a warning sign of blocked or narrowed arteries. Dont hesitate to report this to your doctor, even if this and other symptoms are not intense.
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A Cough That Wont Quit
In most cases, this isn’t a sign of heart trouble. But if you have heart disease or know you’re at risk, pay special attention to the possibility.
If you have a long-lasting cough that produces a white or pink mucus, it could be a sign of heart failure. This happens when the heart can’t keep up with the body’s demands, causing blood to leak back into the lungs.
Ask your doctor to check on whatâs causing your cough.
Breaking Out In A Cold Sweat
Another common symptom is finding yourself breaking out in a cold sweat. The reason behind this symptom is that when you have clogged arteries, your heart requires more effort to pump blood, and sweating keeps your bodys temperature down during this extra effort.
For women, this means night sweats may not just be the result of menopause. They might also be a sign of heart problems.
If you experience any of these symptoms, make sure to consult your physician. Dont wait until it becomes urgent.
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