How To Get Checked Out
Men may not be aware they had an SMI until weeks or even months later when they see their doctor for a regular visit, or because of persistent symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, or heartburn.
SMI is usually detected from an electrocardiogram or echocardiogram, which can highlight heart muscle damage. Another method is a blood test for the molecular footprints of troponin T, a protein released by injured heart cells. That test is often used in emergency departments for patients with heart attack symptoms.
Once an SMI is diagnosed, your doctor can identify your main risk factors and help design a treatment strategy, including changing your diet, exercising regularly, and taking a statin as well as other medication to help prevent a second heart attack .
“If you do notice any symptoms of a SMI, do not brush them aside, even if you do not think they are serious,” says Dr. Plutzky. “Playing it safe is always a better move than risking the potential harmful downside.”
What Causes A Heart Attack
The vast majority of heart attacks occur because of a blockage in one of the blood vessels that supply your heart. This most often happens because of plaque, a sticky substance that can build up on the insides of your arteries . That buildup is called atherosclerosis.
Sometimes, plaque deposits inside the coronary arteries can break open or rupture, and a blood clot can get stuck where the rupture happened. If the clot blocks the artery, this can deprive the heart muscle of blood and cause a heart attack.
Heart attacks are possible without a blockage, but this is rare and only accounts for about 5% of all heart attacks. This kind of heart attack can occur for the following reasons:
- Spasm of the artery: Your blood vessels have a muscle lining that allows them to become wider or narrower as needed. Those muscles can sometimes twitch or spasm, cutting off blood flow to heart muscle.
- Rare medical conditions: An example of this would be any disease that causes unusual narrowing of blood vessels.
- Trauma: This includes tears or ruptures in the coronary arteries.
- Obstruction that came from elsewhere in the body: A blood clot or air bubble that gets trapped in a coronary artery.
- Electrolyte imbalances: Having too much or too little of key minerals like potassium in your blood can cause a heart attack.
- Eating disorders: Over time, an eating disorder can cause damage to your heart and ultimately result in a heart attack.
What Are The Silent Signs Of A Heart Attack
Youre probably familiar with the most common symptom of a heart attack: sudden chest pain that is squeezing or feels like pressure. It is typically located in the center or left side of the chest.
But not everyone gets this dramatic pain. Less noticeable symptoms include more mild pain or discomfort in the center of your chest. It may radiate to the arm, jaw, neck. or back.
Some people, especially women, don’t always have chest pain. Instead, they experience nausea, vomiting, sweating, fatigue, trouble breathing, or lightheadedness. Some people, especially diabetics, may not notice any symptoms .
Heart attack symptoms are sometimes confused with gastric reflux or indigestion. Do not ignore symptoms that do not go away within minutes or worsen. Other warning signs of a heart attack are sweating, nausea, trouble breathing, fatigue, or lightheadedness.
Its not always possible to know if symptoms are a sign of a heart attack or a less serious condition. So head to the emergency room for testing.
Words or expressions I am expecting to hear: Crushing or pressure-like chest discomfort. Pain, heavinesstypically located in the center of the chestthat seem to come out of nowhere. You may also experience a feeling of impending doom, sudden breathlessness, nausea, or severe fatigue.Dr. Anubodh Varshney
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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.
When To Call 911
If you suspect that you or someone else might be having a heart attack, call 911 or local emergency services right away. Immediate treatment can be lifesaving.
Long-term follow-up care is also important to improve outcomes.
Heart attack causes damage to your heart muscle, which can lead to potentially life threatening complications. Although more research is needed, some complications appear to be more common in women than men.
According to a 2016 review from the AHA, women are more likely than men to develop symptoms of heart failure following a heart attack. They also have a higher risk of death in the months and years following a heart attack.
The review found that 26 percent of women and 19 percent of men die within 1 year following a first heart attack, and 47 percent of women and 36 percent of men die within 5 years.
Some for these gender differences include:
- There may be a delay in recognizing womens symptoms.
- Women may be undertreated.
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When Should I See A Doctor
Its important not to ignore symptoms and wait until they become severe. If you have a concern, talk to your doctor. If heart disease is caught early, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of further problems: eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, get regular exercise , maintain a healthy weight, drink alcohol in moderation , and dont smoke.
How Can I Lower My Cholesterol
You can lower your cholesterol by taking these steps:
Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, losing weight can help lower your total cholesterol and LDL levels. Calculate your Body Mass Index to see if you are at a healthy weight. If not, try making small changes like eating an apple instead of potato chips, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking farther away from the entrance to your office, the grocery store, or the mall.
Eat better. Eat foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol.
- Fish, poultry , and lean meats . Broil, bake, roast, or poach foods. Remove the fat and skin before eating.
- Skim or low-fat milk and cheeses, and low-fat or nonfat yogurt
- Fruits and vegetables
- Cereals, breads, rice, and pasta made from whole grains
Get moving.Exercise can help lower LDL and raise HDL . Exercise at a moderate intensity for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week, or get 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity each week.
- Take your medicine. If your doctor has prescribed medicine to lower your cholesterol, take it exactly as you have been told to.
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Can You Have A Heart Attack And Then Feel Ok
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.
Do heart attack symptoms get worse when you lay down?
Sitting up and leaning forward tends to ease the pain, while lying down and breathing deep worsens it. Some people describe the pain as a dull ache or pressure in their chest. The chest pain may feel like a heart attack. If you experience chest pain, call 911 right away because you may be having a heart attack.
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Having A Heart Attack
Although there are several risk factors that you cant control, there are many ways you can help yourself and reduce your risk of a heart attack. These include:
- Schedule a checkup: Find a primary care provider and see them at least once a year for a checkup or wellness visit. An annual checkup can catch many of the early warning signs of heart disease, including signs that you can’t feel. These include your blood pressure, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels and more.
- Quit tobacco products: This includes smokeless tobacco and all vaping products.
- Exercise regularly: Aim for 20 to 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a week.
- Eat a healthy diet: Examples include the Mediterranean or Dash diets. A plant-based diet approach is an excellent alternative.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Your primary care provider can advise you on a healthy goal weight and provide you resources and guidance to help you reach that goal.
- Manage your existing health conditions: This includes high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Reduce your stress: Consider techniques such as yoga, deep breathing and meditation.
- Take your medications: Dont just take medications when you remember to or when you have a doctors appointment coming up.
- Keep all your medical appointments: Seeing your healthcare providers regularly can help uncover heart-related issues or other medical problems you didn’t know you had. This can also help treat problems sooner rather than later.
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Changing Your Lifestyle Can Reduce Your Risk Of Heart Attack
Dealing with the lifestyle factors that contribute to CVD, which you can change, can help reduce your risk of heart attack. Things you can do include:
- take medicines as prescribed
- eat plenty of vegetables, fruits and wholegrains
- eat a variety of healthy protein sources especially fish and seafood, legumes , nuts and seeds. Smaller amounts of eggs and lean poultry can also be included in a heart healthy diet. If choosing red meat, make sure the meat is lean and limit to 1 to 3 times a week
- unflavoured milk, yoghurt and cheese if you have high blood cholesterol you should choose reduced fat varieties
- healthy fat choices with nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and their oils for cooking
- herbs and spices to flavour foods, instead of adding salt
- drink mainly water
/7what Are The Conventional Risk Factors For Heart Attack
The study had classified the risk factors into two parts: conventional risk factors and specific metabolic risk factors.
The conventional risk factors are: hypertension where the patient was diagnosed with high blood pressure for a blood pressure reading more than 130/85 mm Hg, diabetes mellitus, elevated LDL-C, smoking where smokers were individuals who
smoked/consumed any tobacco in the previous 12 months and included those who had quit within the past year.
There was a high prevalence of these factors, which is about 93%. Hypertension was observed in 41.7% of people, diabetes in 43.7%, smoking in 29.5% and elevated LDL-C in 53.5% of people.
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What If Your Doctor Assures You It’s Just Stress Or Fatigue
If a young, healthy patient doesnt have other risk factors, the likelihood of having significant coronary artery disease is low. It may not be appropriate to jump into testing. But the important thing is to always keep coronary risks in mind. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms that dont go away or get worse should go back to a doctor for further evaluation.
What’s The Difference Between A Cardiac Arrest And A Heart Attack
The phrases cardiac arrest and heart attack are often confused, however are different.If youre having a cardiac arrest you will be unconscious, not breathing or not breathing normally. Your heart has stopped pumping blood around your body and youll need CPR and medical attention immediately. During a heart attack you’ll be conscious and breathing, but experiencing chest pain or discomfort.A heart attack is a medical emergency and can lead to cardiac arrest so its important to seek medical attention straight away.
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Symptoms And What It Feels Like
Although an NSTEMI heart attack may cause less damage, it is still a medical emergency. If individuals have heart attack symptoms, they should seek emergency medical attention. However severe a heart attack is, it is always best to take a cautious approach.
The symptoms of an NSTEMI heart attack may resemble a regular heart attack. They
- pressure-like pain in the chest that lasts more than 10 minutes
- pain that radiates to either arm, neck, or jaw
- shortness of breath
People may also experience sudden shortness of breath with no other symptoms. Additionally, atypical symptoms may occur in females, older individuals over 75 years, and those with chronic disease. These symptoms may include stabbing pain, indigestion, and abdominal pain.
There are also differences in symptoms across sexes. Males usually experience chest pressure that lasts for several minutes, and they can also have shortness of breath, sweating, and nausea. Females usually experience middle or upper back pain and shortness of breath.
An extensive 2019 review of nearly 22,000 individuals noted that the symptoms of NSTEMI and STEMI heart attacks were similar. However, the proportion of individuals experiencing chest pain, sweating, radiating pain, and nausea was lower in NSTEMI than in STEMI heart attacks. Conversely, the proportion of shortness of breath and heart palpitations was higher in NSTEMI than in STEMI heart attacks.
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.
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What Do You Do If You Have A Heart Attack
If you have any of the listed symptoms:
- tell someone and ask them to get help right away
The faster you get help, the better your chances of surviving a heart attack. Half of heart attack deaths happen within 2 hours of the first signs.
On average, Canadians wait almost 5 hours before getting medical help. Many people find it hard to believe that they are having a heart attack. They convince themselves that the symptoms are something else and that they will go away.
Not getting help for your symptoms could lead to death. New therapies and drugs can reduce damage and save your life if treatment begins soon enough. Your health care provider will work with you to determine treatment and recovery needs.
If you have suffered a heart attack, having important health information close by can help medical staff treat you. Carry personal health information with you at all times and have it posted by your phone. You may not be able to tell medical staff this information yourself, depending on your condition.
Your list should include:
- telephone and health care number
- medical history
- current medications
- health care provider
- health insurance number for expenses that are not covered under provincial health insurance plans, such as:
- ambulance services
How Is A Heart Attack Treated
Time is of the essence following a myocardial infarction, with each passing moment depriving the heart of urgently needed oxygen and further damaging the heart muscle. Oxygen is administered to patients immediately and subsequent treatment usually a combination of medication and surgery soon follows. Some medications that might be prescribed include aspirin clot busters or blood thinners nitroglycerin morphine beta blockers ACE inhibitors and statins .
The two main surgical procedures used to open blocked arteries following a heart attack are coronary bypass and stenting and coronary artery bypass surgery .
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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.
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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