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.
Risk Factors And Prevention
Many risk factors that can raise your chances for heart disease are within your control. These include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Eating an unhealthy diet
The strongest risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Forty-seven percent of Americans have one or more of these factors.
Risk factors for heart disease and heart attacks that are out of your control include:
- Being male: Males are at a higher risk, although the risk difference narrows once females are post-menopausal.
- Genetics: If you have parents with heart disease, youre more likely to develop it as well.
- Increasing age: Most people who die from heart disease are over age 65. The risk for a heart attack and heart problems goes up with age because your heart may not work as well as it once did.
- Race and ethnicity: Certain types of heart disease are more prevalent in people of certain races or ethnicities. For instance, Blacks have a higher risk of severe high blood pressure and heart disease than Whites. Heart disease risk is higher among Mexican Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians, and some Asian Americans, partially because of more obesity and diabetes.
Even if you have factors for heart disease that are out of your control, you can still make changes to lower your chance of developing heart disease. Here are some tips to help prevent heart disease:
Can You Have Sex After A Heart Attack
A heart attack can take a toll on your romantic relationships and sex life, but that doesnt mean you should give up on sex afterward.
It may take some recovery time before you can resume sexual activity, and you may need to make certain modifications to your sexual practices.
Impaired sexual function is common after a heart attack, yet many people are reluctant to discuss this problem with their doctor. You may improve your sexual function by working on your overall fitness and endurance.
Many doctors tout the benefits of sex and intimacy for heart attack survivors, such as stress reduction, improved emotional well-being, and lower blood pressure.
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Signs Symptoms And Complications
Not all heart attacks begin with the sudden, crushing chest pain that often is shown on TV or in the movies. In one study, for example, one-third of the patients who had heart attacks had no chest pain. These patients were more likely to be older, female, or diabetic.
The symptoms of a heart attack can vary from person to person. Some people can have few symptoms and are surprised to learn they’ve had a heart attack. If you’ve already had a heart attack, your symptoms may not be the same for another one. It is important for you to know the most common symptoms of a heart attack and also remember these facts:
- Heart attacks can start slowly and cause only mild pain or discomfort. Symptoms can be mild or more intense and sudden. Symptoms also may come and go over several hours.
- People who have high blood sugar may have no symptoms or very mild ones.
- The most common symptom, in both men and women, is chest pain or discomfort.
- Women are somewhat more likely to have shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, unusual tiredness , and pain in the back, shoulders, and jaw.
Some people don’t have symptoms at all. Heart attacks that occur without any symptoms or with very mild symptoms are called silent heart attacks.
Are There Other Causes Of Heart Attack Besides Blockage
Sometimes a coronary artery temporarily contracts or goes into spasm. When this happens the artery narrows, and blood flow to part of the heart muscle decreases or stops.
The causes of spasms are unclear. A spasm can occur in normal-appearing blood vessels as well as in vessels partly blocked by atherosclerosis. A severe spasm can cause a heart attack.
Another rare cause of heart attack is spontaneous coronary artery dissection, which is a spontaneous tearing of the coronary artery wall.
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Aspirin For Heart Attack Prevention
The American Heart Association recommends daily low-dose aspirin for:
- Primary prevention of heart attack and stroke in people who are at risk for heart disease .
- Secondary prevention of heart attack and stroke in people who have already had a heart attack or stroke.
- In 2014, the FDA advised that daily aspirin use for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease should be an individual clinical judgment between providers and people weighing the risks of bleeding against the benefits of prevention. This is because daily aspirin use can increase the risk for bleeding. For most people who have existing heart problems, the benefits of aspirin outweigh the risks. Always check with your doctor before starting or stopping daily aspirin.
What Are The Risk Factors For Heart Disease
High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. About half of people in the United States have at least one of these three risk factors.2 Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including
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Heart Attack Symptoms In Women Vs Men
Women are more likely than men to have silent heart attacks and heart attacks without chest pain. Heart attacks are also more likely to start when a woman is at rest or experiencing mental stress.
That means its especially important for women to watch out for symptoms like shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, nausea or vomiting, or pain in the jaw, arms or back.
Also, we now know that young women are particularly prone to a type of heart event called a spontaneous coronary artery dissection , which we talk about in more depth below.
Are Heart Attack Symptoms In Women Different
Although most women and men report symptoms of chest pain with a heart attack, women are slightly more likely than men to report unusual symptoms. More vague or less typical “heart” symptoms reported in women include:
- Upper back or shoulder pain.
- Jaw pain or pain spreading to the jaw.
- Pressure or pain in the center of the chest.
- Light headedness.
- Pain that spreads to the arm.
- Unusual fatigue for several days.
If you experience any of these symptoms of a heart attack, call for emergency assistance . Don’t wait for your symptoms to “go away.” Early recognition and treatment of a heart attack can reduce the risk of heart damage. Even if you’re not sure your symptoms are a heart attack, get it checked.
The best time to treat a heart attack is within one hour of the onset of the first symptoms. Waiting just a couple hours for medical help may change your treatment options, increase the amount of damage to your heart muscle and reduce your chance of survival.
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St Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction
A STEMI is the most serious type of heart attack. It is where there is a long interruption to the blood supply.
This is caused by a total blockage of the coronary artery. It can cause extensive damage to a large area of the heart.
A STEMI is what most people think of when they hear the term “heart attack”.
Symptoms That Are Less Likely To Indicate Heart Attack
The following symptoms are less likely to be due to heart attack:
- Sharp pain brought on by breathing in or when coughing.
- Pain that is mainly or only in the middle or lower abdomen.
- Pain that can be pinpointed with the tip of one finger.
- Pain that can be reproduced by moving or pressing on the chest wall or arms.
- Pain that is constant and lasts for hours .
- Pain that is very brief and lasts for a few seconds.
- Pain that spreads to the legs.
However, the presence of these symptoms does not necessarily rule out a serious heart event.
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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 will 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:
- Echocardiogram. This test uses sound waves to create pictures of your heart. The pictures show how well your heart is pumping. It can show if there are problems with your heart valves.
- Chest X-ray.This looks at the size and shape of your heart. It can show if there is any fluid in your lungs.
- Nuclear imaging.This test injects a tiny radioactive substance into your blood. This substance travels to your heart to create pictures of it. It shows how well your heart is pumping. The radioactive substance is safe and leaves your body after the test is finished.
- Coronary angiography. This test is sometimes called cardiac catheterization. It involves inserting a long tube into a blood vessel. The tube is guided to the heart or arteries that carry blood to the heart. A substance is injected into the tube that makes it visible by X-ray. It allows your doctor to see where the blockage that caused the decrease in blood flow to your heart is located.
This Blood Type Puts You At Risk For Heart Disease
Your blood type can reveal a lot about youeven whether or not you might get heart disease. What are blood types anyway? “Blood types, A, B, AB and 0 refer to the kind of antibodies that are attached to the surface of the blood cells,” says Dr. Sheldon Zablow, a nutritional psychiatrist and author of Your Vitamins Are Obsolete. “A and B each have one different type on their surface and AB has both. Type 0 really stands for type ‘zero’ because there are no antibodies on its surface. This has been misread as type ‘O’ and over time has become an oh-O.” So how can you tell if you might get heart disease? “The blood type antibodies on the surface of the cell are also found on the surface of the cells of many organs but of importance here is that they are also on the surface of the cells that line the blood vessels,” he says. “Antibodies are ‘sticky’ proteins that are waiting in the blood and on the surface of cells to capture and kill any foreign substances such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites.” Read on to see which blood type may put you at riskand to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
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Changes To Your Lifestyle
Its wrong to think that having a heart attack means it’s already too late and that the damage is done.
It’s much better to think about this as a new start and another chance a chance to take responsibility for the things you can change, and to work together with doctors and nurses to control the things you cant.
The best way to prevent another heart attack is to understand what caused the first one and take steps to reduce your risk of having another heart attack.
There are certain things that increase your risk of developing heart disease. These are called risk factors.
Risk factors are not the cause of your heart attack, but they have contributed to your heart attack happening. In other words, by reducing these risk factors, you can reduce your overall risk of heart disease.
Some risk factors are to do with things you cannot alter, like family history, age or ethnic origin. However, many risk factors are to do with the way you lead your life and habits that you have created. With a bit of effort, you can change your lifestyle, and habits can be broken.
You can involve your family in any lifestyle changes you make. Its important to identify, honestly, any of the things in your life that you can do something about to improve things:
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
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What Is The Medical Treatment For Heart Disease
- An aspirin may be used for its antiplatelet activity, making platelets less sticky and decreasing the risk of heart attack. The decision to use aspirin routinely depends upon whether other risk factors for heart disease are present.
- Medications may be prescribed in patients with heart disease to maximize blood flow to the heart and increase efficiency of the pumping function of the heart.
- Beta blocker medications help block the action of adrenaline on the heart, slowing the heart rate. These medications also help the heart beat more efficiently and decrease the oxygen requirements of the heart muscle during work.
- Calcium channel blockers also help the heart muscle contract and pump more efficiently.
- Nitrates help dilate arteries and increase blood flow to the heart muscle. They may be short-acting to treat acute angina symptoms or long-acting preparations may be prescribed for prevention.
- Should there be significant stenosis or narrowing of the coronary arteries, angioplasty and/or stenting may be considered to open the blocked areas. These procedures are performed in conjunction with cardiac catheterization. Depending upon the patient’s anatomy and the extent of the blockage present, coronary artery bypass graft surgery may be required.
- If a stent is placed, other antiplatelet medications like clopidogrel may be prescribed.
Aspirin And Other Anti
Anti-clotting drugs that inhibit or break up blood clots are used at every stage of heart disease. Anti-clotting medications are generally classified as either antiplatelets or anticoagulants. Both antiplatelets and anticoagulants prevent blood clots from forming but they work in different ways:
- Antiplatelets prevent blood platelets from sticking together.
- Anticoagulants are “blood thinners” that reduce the ability of blood to clot.
All anti-clotting drugs increase the risk of bleeding, which can lead to dangerous situations, including stroke.
Appropriate anticlotting medications are started immediately in all patients. Such drugs are used with revascularization, and also as ongoing maintenance to prevent a heart attack.
These drugs inhibit blood platelets from sticking together, and therefore help to prevent clots. Platelets are very small disc-shaped blood cells that are important for blood clotting. Antiplatelet drugs include:
Anticoagulants thin blood. They include:
All of these drugs pose a risk for bleeding. In the event of life-threatening or uncontrolled bleeding due to anticoagulants, antidote drugs reversing the anticoagulant effect may sometimes be used. These include vitamin K , idarucizumab for reversal of the direct thrombin inhibitor dabigatran, and coagulation factor Xa , a recently FDA approved drug reversing the effects of rivaroxaban and apixaban.
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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.
If youâve called emergency services and are waiting for them to arrive, chew an aspirin . Aspirin is a potent inhibitor of blood clots and can lower the risk of death from a heart attack by 25%.
Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors are important drugs for treating many people who have had a heart attack, particularly for people with and at risk for heart failure. ACE inhibitors should be given on the first day to such people with a heart attack, unless there are medical reasons for not taking them.
Almost all people admitted for ACS should receive ACE inhibitors if they have symptoms of heart failure or evidence of reduced left ventricular fraction on an echocardiogram. These drugs are also commonly used to treat high blood pressure and are recommended as first-line treatment for people with diabetes and kidney damage.
ACE inhibitors include captopril , ramipril , enalapril , quinapril , benazepril , perindopril , and lisinopril . All of these drugs are available in generic form.
Side effects of ACE inhibitors are uncommon but may include an irritating dry cough, excessive drops in blood pressure, and allergic reactions.
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Prevention Of A Heart Attack
You can help prevent a heart attack by managing certain risk factors and making healthy lifestyle choices.
Its important to keep tabs on your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and body weight, and to take action when any of these reaches an unhealthy level. If you have diabetes, its also important to manage your blood sugar well.
A heart-healthy lifestyle involves not smoking, getting enough physical activity, and following a healthy diet thats rich in fruits, vegetables, fiber, healthy fats, and lean . You should drink in moderation, if at all, and try to reduce or manage stress.