How Do Doctors Know What Kind Of Heart Attack Youve Had
You cant predict the outcome of a heart attack by your symptoms or how severe they are. Thats why symptoms that suggest a possible heart attack should never be ignored.
How well you fare after a heart attack depends on how quickly you act, Dr. Campbell says. The sooner you get emergency care, the better the chance you will suffer less permanent damage to your heart.
If you go to the ER with heart-attack symptom, youll be treated right away. Your blood will be examined for any enzymes indicating theres been damage to your hearts muscle. And a noninvasive echocardiogram is performed to see how well your heart is pumping.
Still it may take several hours to determine whether youve had a heart attack and what kind of treatment is needed. That means, if youre not sure what your symptoms mean, the thought of spending several hours in the ER might discourage you from seeking care. Dont let it! Dr. Campbell advises that its much wiser to err on the safe side.
Its better you spend several hours in the ER than learn the damage has been done, and your heart cant be fixed, he says.
What Is A Massive Heart Attack
A massive heart attack affects a large portion of the heart muscle, or causes a large amount of heart damage. This can happen if the blockage in a coronary artery occurs in a large artery that supplies a large portion of the heart completely blocks blood flow to the heart or lasts for a long period of time.
A massive heart attack can result in collapse, , and rapid death or permanent heart damage. A massive heart attack can also lead to heart failure, arrhythmia, and a higher risk of a second heart attack.
Does A Mild Heart Attack Cause Damage To The Heart
Mild heart attacks affect a small portion ofthe heart and dont cause significant permanent damage. But that doesnt meanthey shouldnt be taken seriously. Mild heart attacks can lead tolife-threatening problems that can affect the remainder of your life,including:
- Higher risk of anotherheart attack
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Risk Factors For A Silent Heart Attack In Women
Still, Ekery says, the risk factors for a silent heart attack are the same as those for a recognized heart attack, and:
A silent heart attack can be just as dangerous as its more obvious counterpart, says Ekery. Because the event often leaves scarring and damage to the heart, it puts the person at greater risk of other heart problems. And because the person didnt know to seek treatment, blood flow to the heart might not have been restored early on, and no medications were administered, so the impact could potentially be greater.
Clinical Contributors To This Story
Saleem Husain, M.D. contributes to topics such as Cardiac / Heart Health.
When 34-year-old Przemyslaw Simon Blazejowicz suffered a heart attack in February 2019, doctors at JFK Medical Center were initially puzzled why such a young manwho also worked out six days a weekwould fall among the tiny percentage of Americans under age 40 stricken by heart attacks each year.
It turns out that Simons strong family history of heart disease, including an often-genetic condition that makes blood clot more rapidly, placed him in the top two risk factors for an early heart attack. The other leading risk factor for heart attacks in people under 40 is substance abuse, especially cocaine, says Saleem Husain, M.D., director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab and Chest Pain Center at JFK, who successfully treated Simon.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Heart Attack
The major symptoms of a heart attack are
- Chest pain or discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
- Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint. You may also break out into a cold sweat.
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders.
- Shortness of breath. This often comes along with chest discomfort, but shortness of breath also can happen before chest discomfort.
Other symptoms of a heart attack could include unusual or unexplained tiredness and nausea or vomiting. Women are more likely to have these other symptoms. Learn more about women and heart disease.
Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack.1Learn more facts about heart attack and heart disease.
What Are Symptoms Of A Mini Heart Attack
A heart attack, even a mini heart attack, is a medical emergency. If you have any symptoms of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 right away and get to a hospitals emergency department. Do not drive to the hospital on your own.
Symptoms of a mini heart attack are similar to a regular heart attack but last for a shorter time and include:
- Pain, pressure, tightness, or discomfort in the chest
- Pain, tingling, squeezing, or discomfort in other parts of the upper body, including the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme fatigue or weakness
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Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
Symptoms of a heart attack can include:
- chest pain the chest can feel like it’s being pressed or squeezed by a heavy object, and pain can radiate from the chest to the jaw, neck, arms and back
- feeling weak or lightheaded, or both
- an overwhelming feeling of anxiety
It’s important to know that not everyone experiences severe chest pain. This is particularly the case with many women. The pain can often be mild and mistaken for indigestion.
It’s the combination of symptoms that’s important in determining whether a person is having a heart attack and not the severity of chest pain.
What Are The Risk Factors For Heart Disease
Heart disease affects women differently from men. Part of that is anatomical women generally have higher heart rates and smaller hearts and arteries than men. This makes womens arteries more prone to blood clots or blockages and more difficult to repair.
For both women and men, the more risk factors you have the more you should be concerned about anything heart related. For example, if youre 50 or older, overweight, diabetic, or have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, these are risk factors for a heart condition and you should pay particular attention to changes in your health.
For women, risk factors like smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a family history of heart disease, pose an even greater threat compared to men. When estrogen levels drop during menopause, this also leads to an increased risk of heart disease for women.
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Signs And Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
Symptoms of a heart attack can vary greatly from person to person. Theyre likely to be more severe if youre having a major heart attack, in which a blood clot completely blocks an artery leading to your heart.
- Pain or discomfort in your jaw or neck
- Pain or discomfort in your arms, shoulders, or back
- Indigestion or sense of choking
- Sweating, especially a cold sweat
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Sudden chest pain is the most common heart attack symptom, but not all people experience it. Some people have only mild symptoms that come on gradually.
Because a heart attack is a medical emergency, dial 911 right away if you experience symptoms that you believe are caused by one.
Complications Of A Heart Attack
Complications of a heart attack can be serious and possibly life threatening.
- arrhythmias these are abnormal heartbeats. 1 type is where the heart begins beating faster and faster, then stops beating
- cardiogenic shock where the heart’s muscles are severely damaged and can no longer contract properly to supply enough blood to maintain many body functions
- heart rupture where the heart’s muscles, walls or valves split apart
These complications can happen quickly after a heart attack and are a leading cause of death.
Many people die suddenly from a complication of a heart attack before reaching hospital or within the 1st month after a heart attack.
The outlook often depends on:
- age serious complications are more likely as you get older
- the severity of the heart attack how much of the heart’s muscle has been damaged during the attack
- how long it took before a person received treatment treatment for a heart attack should begin as soon as possible
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What Happens In The First Few Days After A Heart Attack
You will be closely monitored in the first few days after your heart attack
Depending on the severity of your heart attack, the treatmentyou have received and your home situation, you will usuallybe in hospital for 3 to 5 days.
- The first 24-48 hours after a heart attack is when your condition will be most unstable.
- This period is often spent in a coronary care unit , a specialised intensive care unit for heart patients, or in an acute medical ward where your heart function can be monitored closely.
- Your blood sugar level will also be closely monitored. After a heart attack, some people have an increase in their blood sugar level. If this happens you might need treatment with insulin to reduce your blood sugar levels.
- As a result of your heart attack, other conditions can develop. For example, your heart may not be able to pump blood around your body as well as it did before, or there may be damage to the control of the electrical activity of your heart.
- It is normal to feel very tired after a heart attack. Initially try to limit any visiting to your immediate family and keep visits brief. Meals are intentionally light as a heavy meal will increase demand on your heart. Eating smaller meals more often means that your heart will not have to work so hard.
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.
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Duration Of A Heart Attack
If you experience symptoms that may indicate a heart attack for longer than five minutes, its important to seek emergency medical attention immediately.
Dont delay treatment by waiting to see if your symptoms go away. Even if your symptoms let up or change, there may be ongoing damage to your heart.
If treatment begins within an hour of the onset of symptoms, a heart attack is less likely to cause significant or long-lasting damage to your heart muscle.
Unfortunately, many people delay treatment for a heart attack by several hours, increasing the risk of long-term disability or death.
Depending on your treatment needs, you may need to be hospitalized for a heart attack for several days or longer.
Can You Have A Mild Heart Attack
You can have a mild heart attack and may noteven be aware that its happening. There are two types of minor heartattacks:
- Non-ST Elevation myocardialinfarction . This type of heart attack occurs when blood flow through one of the majorcoronary arteries is partially blocked, limiting the supply of oxygenated bloodto the heart muscle. This kind of heart attack doesnt damage the heartseverely.
- Silent MyocardialInfarction .Also called a silent heart attack, an SMI has symptoms that are so mild andbrief that you may not even know youre having a heart attack.
These less severe heart attacks are alsoreferred to as mild heart attacks, minor heart attacks, or mini heartattacks.
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Mild Heart Attack: Diagnosis And Treatment Tips
To distinguish a mild heart attack from stable angina, your doctor may order an electrocardiogram so that they can analyze the pattern and discern whether the heart attack was typical or mild. A blood test may also be able to confirm whether the patient has suffered a mild heart attack, as can an echocardiogram, ultrasound of the heart, angiogram, or x-ray of the coronary arteries.
To treat a mild heart attack, doctors may prescribe medications such as nitroglycerin, which widens the blood vessels. Anti-ischemic drugs may also be prescribed as they can prevent chest pain, while anti-inflammatories and blood thinners may be given in order to prevent the formation of clots.
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Weve all seen the movie scenes where a man gasps, clutches his chest and falls to the ground. In reality, a heart attack victim could easily be a woman, and the scene may not be that dramatic.
Although men and women can experience chest pressure that feels like an elephant sitting across the chest, women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure, said Nieca Goldberg, M.D., medical director for the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYUs Langone Medical Center and an American Heart Association volunteer. Instead they may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue.
Even when the signs are subtle, the consequences can be deadly, especially if the victim doesnt get help right away.
I Thought I Had The Flu
Even though heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, women often chalk up the symptoms to less life-threatening conditions like acid reflux, the flu or normal aging.
They do this because they are scared and because they put their families first, Goldberg said. There are still many women who are shocked that they could be having a heart attack.
A heart attack strikes someone about every 43 seconds. It occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. This happens because the arteries that supply the heart with blood can slowly narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances .
Many women think the signs of a heart attack are unmistakable the image of the elephant comes to mind but in fact they can be subtler and sometimes confusing.
You could feel so short of breath, as though you ran a marathon, but you haven’t made a move, Goldberg said.
Some women experiencing a heart attack describe upper back pressure that feels like squeezing or a rope being tied around them, Goldberg said. Dizziness, lightheadedness or actually fainting are other symptoms to look for.
Many women I see take an aspirin if they think they are having a heart attack and never call 911, Goldberg said. But if they think about taking an aspirin for their heart attack, they should also call 911.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
The most common symptom of a heart attack is chest pain or discomfort. Other symptoms of a heart attack include:
- shortness of breath
- to the neck, jaw or shoulders
Most symptoms of a heart attack are the same for men and women.
Women are more likely to feel some discomfort in the chest rather than a sharp pain or tightness. The milder symptoms do not mean that a woman’s heart attack is any less severe than a man’s heart attack. Any symptoms of a heart attack should be taken seriously.
Recovering From A Heart Attack
The time it takes to recover from a heart attack will depend on the amount of damage to your heart muscle.
Most people can return to work after having a heart attack. Some people are well enough to return to work after 2 weeks. Other people may take several months to recover. How quickly you can go back to work depends on your health, the state of your heart and the type of work you do.
The recovery process aims to:
- reduce your risk of another heart attack through a combination of lifestyle changes , and medicines , which help to lower blood cholesterol levels
- gradually restore your physical fitness so you can resume normal activities
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