Other Common Signs And Symptoms
Pay attention to these other possible symptoms of a heart attack:
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
- Feeling unusually tired for no reason, sometimes for days
- Nausea and vomiting
- Light-headedness or sudden dizziness
- Any sudden, new symptoms or a change in the pattern of symptoms you already have
Not everyone having a heart attack has typical symptoms. If you’ve already had a heart attack, your symptoms may not be the same for another one. However, some people may have a pattern of symptoms that recur.
The more signs and symptoms you have, the more likely it is that you’re having a heart attack.
Treatment For A Heart Attack
The goal of treatment for a heart attack is to relieve pain, preserve the heart muscle function, and prevent death.
Treatment in the emergency department may include:
- Intravenous therapy, such as nitroglycerin and morphine
- Continuous monitoring of the heart and vital signs
- Oxygen therapy to improve oxygenation to the damaged heart muscle
- Pain medicine to decrease pain. This, in turn, decreases the workload of the heart. The oxygen demand of the heart decreases.
- Cardiac medicine such as beta-blockers to promote blood flow to the heart, improve the blood supply, prevent arrhythmias, and decrease heart rate and blood pressure
- Fibrinolytic therapy. This is the intravenous infusion of a medicine that dissolves the blood clot, restoring blood flow.
- Antithrombin or antiplatelet therapy with aspirin or clopidogrel. This is used to prevent further blood clotting.
- Antihyperlipidemics. These medicines lower lipids in the blood, particularly low density lipid cholesterol. Statins are a group of antihyperlipidemic medicines. They include simvastatin, atorvastatin, and pravastatin. Bile acid sequestrantscolesevelam, cholestyramine, and colestipoland nicotinic acid are two other types of medicines that may be used to lower cholesterol levels.
You may need other procedures to restore blood flow to the heart. Those procedures are described below.
Heart Attack Survivor Stories
“I am thankful for each day and the opportunities it brings to share my experiences with others.”
“Ive changed my diet to minimize fat and salt. Im learning to read labels and make healthy choices.”
“It all comes down to listening the cardiologists listening to us, and not just with their stethoscopes and us listening to the cardiologists. Without both of these, there are no winners!”
“I now take a low dose Bayer Aspirin regimen, and I was told that the aspirin I was given during my heart attack helped save my life! Thanks for being there for me Bayer!”
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What Can Be Expected After Treatment
Your chances of recovering from a heart attack depend on how much damage there is to your heart and how quickly you receive emergency care. The sooner you receive treatment, the more likely you are to survive. However, if theres substantial damage to your heart muscle, your heart may be unable to pump an adequate amount of blood throughout your body. This can lead to heart failure.
Heart damage also increases your risk of developing abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias. Your risk of having another heart attack will be higher as well.
Many people whove had heart attacks experience anxiety and depression. Its important to speak with your doctor about your concerns during recovery. It may also be beneficial to join a support group or to speak with a counselor about what youre going through.
Most people are able to resume their normal activities after a heart attack. However, youll need to ease back into any intense physical activity. Your doctor will help you develop a specific plan for recovery. You may be required to take medications or undergo a cardiac rehabilitation program. This type of program can help you slowly regain your strength, teach you about healthy lifestyle changes, and guide you through treatment.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Is there a test I can take to see if my arteries or blocked so I know if Im at risk of a having a heart attack?
- What is the likely cause of my heart attack?
- How serious was my heart attack?
- What course of treatment do you recommend? Do I need medicine? Surgery?
- Do I need to participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program?
- When can I return to normal physical and sexual activity?
- What is my risk of having another heart attack?
- Are my family members at an increased risk of heart attack?
- Do I need to take medicine to prevent another heart attack?
- Will the medicine interact with any of the medicine I already take?
- What lifestyle changes should I make at home to prevent another heart attack?
- Can sexual activity cause a heart attack?
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What Does Depression Have To Do With A Heart Attack
Depression is common after a heart attack. As many as 1 out of every 3 people who have had a heart attack report feelings of depression. People with a higher risk of depression after a heart attack include:
- People who have had depression before.
- People who feel alone and without social or emotional support.
Many people who have depression dont recognize it. They dont seek help or get treatment. Being depressed can make it harder for you to recover physically. Depression can be treated.
Some people have anxiety after a heart attack, fearing it will happen again. Talk to your doctor about your feelings so that you can manage or reduce your anxiety.
What Are The Risk Factors For Heart Attack
Several health conditions, your lifestyle, and your age and family history can increase your risk for heart disease and heart attack. These are called risk factors. About half of all Americans have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking.2
Some risk factors cannot be controlled, such as your age or family history. But you can take steps to lower your risk by changing the factors you can control.
Learn more about risk factors for heart disease and heart attack.
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What Should I Do If I Have Symptoms Of Heart Attack
If you think you may be having a heart attack, get treatment right away. Follow these steps:
- Dial 911 Do not have someone else drive you to the hospital. Do not try to drive yourself. EMTs can give you life-saving treatment in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
- After calling for help, take 1 uncoated adult aspirin or 4 uncoated baby aspirins . Dont take this if youre allergic to aspirin.
- If you are alone and are able, unlock your door to let emergency personnel enter your home.
- Sit in a comfortable chair and wait for help.
- Keep a phone near you.
Are The Symptoms Of Heart Attack Different For Women
The most common heart attack symptom for women is pain or discomfort in the chest. Women are more likely to have a heart attack without having any chest pain. Therefore, women should pay close attention to other symptoms of heart attack. These include shortness of breath, sweating, fatigue, and dizziness.
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How Is A Heart Attack Different From Cardiac Arrest
People often use these terms to mean the same thing, but they describe different events.
A heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked. Its a circulation problem.
With sudden cardiac arrest , the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating unexpectedly. Sudden cardiac arrest is an electrical problem.
A heart attack can cause a cardiac arrest. In cardiac arrest , death results when the heart suddenly stops working properly. This is caused by irregular heart rhythms called arrhythmias.
The most common arrhythmia in cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation. This is when the hearts lower chambers suddenly start beating chaotically and dont pump blood. Death occurs within minutes after the heart stops.
Cardiac arrest may be reversed if CPR is performed and a defibrillator is used within minutes to shock the heart and restore a normal heart rhythm.
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.
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Cas Silent Heart Attack Or Heart Attack Without Blockage
The coronary artery spasm is also known as a coronary spasm, unstable angina, or silent heart attack. The symptoms, which can be the same as a STEMI heart attack, may be mistaken for muscle pain, indigestion, and more. It occurs when one of the hearts arteries tightens so much that blood flow stops or becomes drastically reduced. Only imaging and blood test results can tell your doctor if youve had a silent heart attack.
There is no permanent damage during a coronary artery spasm. While silent heart attacks arent as serious, they do increase your risk of another heart attack or one that may be more serious.
If your doctor suspects a heart attack, you may be treated immediately with:
- aspirin to prevent blood clotting
- nitroglycerin to relieve chest pain and improve blood flow
- oxygen therapy
After your doctor confirms the heart attack, they will prescribe medications. They may recommend surgery, if needed.
What Is A Stemi
ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction is a very serious type of heart attack during which one of the hearts major arteries is blocked. ST-segment elevation is an abnormality detected on the 12-lead ECG.
Electrocardiogram with ST-segments elevated
It is a profoundly life-threatening medical emergency and usually associated with a disease process called atherosclerosis . You can find a useful video about heart disease and heart attacks at the Khan Academy.
Patients experiencing acute STEMI are at risk for developing life-threatening arrhythmias like ventricular fibrillation which causes sudden cardiac arrest, sometimes referred to as a massive heart attack. These patients require cardiopulmonary resuscitation and defibrillation a shock to restore a normal heart rhythm.
Signs and symptoms of a STEMI include:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Diaphoresis unexplained by ambient temperature
- Anxiety or a feeling of impending doom
Some patients experience denial and dismiss their symptoms as heartburn or indigestion. When this happens they may delay seeking care for hours.
STEMI can be treated with clot-busting drugs called thrombolytics or with a primary percutaneous coronary intervention in a cardiac catheterization lab. This procedure is also referred to as angioplasty or stenting.
Angiograms showing a coronary artery before and after angioplasty or stenting
Its an exciting time to be involved in Emergency Cardiac Care!
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Medical Term For Heart Attack
Acute coronary syndrome or heart attack is a serious heart disorder when the heart muscle does not get blood flow. This condition interferes with the function of the heart in draining blood throughout the body. In the world of medicine, heart attacks are also referred to as a myocardial infarction, The Medical Term For Heart Attack.
Heart attacks occur due to inhibited blood flow to the heart muscle. The main cause of this condition is coronary heart disease, which clogs blood vessels that supply blood to the heart , due to cholesterol deposits that form plaque in the walls of blood vessels.
The condition is exacerbated by the formation of blood clots, which can clog the total blood vessels and cause a heart attack.
Medications For Heart Attacks
Less severe heart attacks may be treated with medication. Your doctor will prescribe you medications based on your condition, risk factors, and overall health. These drugs may include:
- clot busters to dissolve clots that are blocking arteries
- blood pressure medications to help reduce the hearts workload and control blood pressure
- blood thinners to prevent blood clots
- statins to help lower LDL cholesterol
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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
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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Stress Cardiomyopathy: A Different Kind Of Heart Attack
Most heart attacks are due to coronary arteries being blocked by blood clots that form when plaques of cholesterol rupture. The lack of blood flow through the blocked arteries results in heart muscle dying hence the name “heart attack.” However, there is another form of heart attack called takotsubo cardiomyopathy.
Over the past few years, physicians have come to recognize and better understand this form of heart attack. This unusual type of heart attack does not involve rupturing plaques or blocked blood vessels. It is called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or stress cardiomyopathy. Japanese doctors, who were the first to describe this condition, named it “takotsubo” because during this disorder, the heart takes on a distinctive shape that resembles a Japanese pot used to trap an octopus. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy was commonly believed to be caused by sudden emotional stress, such as the death of a child, and to be far less harmful than a typical heart attack. For that reason, some had also labeled this condition “broken-heart syndrome.”
As awareness of takotsubo cardiomyopathy increases among physicians and patients, I suspect we will be recognizing even more cases of takotsubo cardiomyopathy in the future. The condition certainly does not appear to be as rare as was suspected, nor as harmless as had been believed.
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.
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Get The Heart Care You Need When You Need It
Each year about 805,000 Americans have a heart attack, and about 655,000 die of heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means heart disease is responsible for one in every four deaths, making it the leading cause of death for both men and women.
Remember, if you think 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.
A heart attack can be a scary experience. But remember that were here for you, and comprehensive heart care and recovery options are never far away.
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
Why Didnt I Have Any Warning
The process of atherosclerosis has no symptoms. When a coronary artery narrows and constricts blood flow, other nearby blood vessels that serve the heart sometimes expand to compensate, which may explain why there are no warning signs.
Such a network of expanded nearby blood vessels is called collateral circulation, and it helps protect some people from heart attacks by delivering needed blood to the heart. Collateral circulation can also develop after a heart attack to help the heart muscle recover.