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.
Will I Have To Take Medicine For The Rest Of My Life
If you have had a heart attack, your doctor will probably want you to take certain medicines for a long time. This can help reduce your risk of more heart problems. Your doctor can answer your questions about these medicines. He or she can tell you the benefits and risks of taking them.
- Aspirin can reduce the risk of a heart attack. A low dose of aspirin each day can keep your blood from forming clots that can eventually block the arteries. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of aspirin therapy.
- Antiplatelet medicines also help stop blood clots from forming. These drugs are especially important to take for at least a year if you have had a stent placed in your heart.
- Beta blockers are a group of drugs that lower the heart rate and blood pressure. They help improve blood flow to the heart.
- ACE inhibitors are a group of drugs that can help if your heart is not pumping blood well. This medicine helps open your arteries and lower your blood pressure. This improves blood flow.
- Statins are a group of drugs that are used to control cholesterol. They lower bad cholesterol levels and may help increase good cholesterol .
How Is A Heart Attack Treated
Quick treatment to get the blood flowing to your heart muscle again is important. This can reduce the amount of permanent damage to your heart and save your life.
Many people need to have emergency treatment to restore the blood flow:
- Coronary angioplasty re-opens the blocked coronary artery by inserting one or more stents. This helps keep the narrowed artery open.
- Thrombolysis involves giving you clot-busting medicine to dissolve the blood clot that’s blocking the coronary artery.
- Coronary bypass surgery helps to restore normal blood flow by using a blood vessel from your leg, arm or chest in your heart to bypass the blocked artery.
You might not have these treatments if your doctor decides it’s not safe or necessary.
Also Check: Can Acetaminophen Raise Blood Pressure
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
When To Contact A Medical Professional
- Does not respond to you
- Is not breathing
Adults should take steps to control heart disease risk factors whenever possible.
- If you smoke, quit. Smoking more than doubles the chance of developing heart disease.
- Keep blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes in good control and follow your health care provider’s orders.
- Lose weight if obese or overweight.
- Get regular exercise to improve heart health.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet. Limit saturated fats, red meat, and sugars. Increase your intake of chicken, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Your provider can help you tailor a diet specific to your needs.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. One drink a day is associated with reducing the rate of heart attacks, but two or more drinks a day can damage the heart and cause other medical problems.
Read Also: Does Tylenol Elevate Blood Pressure
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.
What To Do When They Happen
If you or someone youâre with has chest discomfort or other heart attack symptoms, call 911 right away. While your first impulse may be to drive yourself or the heart attack victim to the hospital, itâs better to get an ambulance. Emergency medical services personnel can start treatment on the way to the hospital. Theyâre also trained to revive a person if their heart stops.
If you can’t reach EMS, drive the person to the hospital. If youâre the one with the symptoms, donât drive yourself to the hospital unless you have no other choice.
Many people delay treatment because they doubt they are having a heart attack. They don’t want to bother or worry their friends and family.
Itâs always better to be safe than sorry.
Recommended Reading: Top Part Of Heart Not Working
Anxiety And Depression After A Heart Attack
After a heart attack, many people worry about having another heart attack. Sometimes they feel depressed and have trouble adjusting to new lifestyle changes.
Talk about how you feel with your health care team. Talking to a professional counselor also can help. If you’re very depressed, your doctor may recommend medicines or other treatments that can improve your quality of life.
Joining a patient support group may help you adjust to life after a heart attack. You can see how other people who have the same symptoms have coped with them. Talk with your doctor about local support groups or check with an area medical center.
Support from family and friends also can help relieve stress and anxiety. Let your loved ones know how you feel and what they can do to help you.
What Is A Heart Attack
More than a million Americans have heart attacks each year. Heart attacks are also called myocardial infarctions . “Myo” means muscle, “cardial” refers to the heart, and “infarction” means death of tissue because of a lack of blood supply. This tissue death can cause lasting damage to your heart muscle..
You May Like: Reflux Palpitations
Risk Of A Repeat Heart Attack
Once you’ve had a heart attack, you’re at higher risk for another one. Knowing the difference between angina and a heart attack is important. Angina is chest pain that occurs in people who have ischemic heart disease.
The pain from angina usually occurs after physical exertion and goes away in a few minutes when you rest or take medicine as directed.
The pain from a heart attack usually is more severe than the pain from angina. Heart attack pain doesn’t go away when you rest or take medicine.
If you don’t know whether your chest pain is angina or a heart attack, call 911.
The symptoms of a second heart attack may not be the same as those of a first heart attack. Don’t take a chance if you’re in doubt. Always call 911 right away if you or someone else has heart attack symptoms.
Unfortunately, most heart attack victims wait 2 hours or more after their symptoms start before they seek medical help. This delay can result in lasting heart damage or death.
It’s Easy To Get The Care You Need
See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.
It could be the most important 60 seconds of your life, so now is the time to prepare yourself.
Seriously, to survive a heart attack, you need to know the signs and how to respond, well before it ever happens. You cant afford to wait. Not even for a minute.
A heart attack occurs when a coronary artery is blocked and blood cant reach the heart. When this happens, the heart muscle will begin to die. This can permanently damage your heart, and result in death.
Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of heart attack now, while youre healthy, and know what action to take before a heart attack ever strikes. The faster you get to a hospital, the greater your chances of restoring blood flow to the heart, saving heart muscle and your life.
Read Also: What Does A Slow Heart Rate Mean
Risk Factors You Can Control
The major risk factors for a heart attack that you can control include:
Some of these risk factorssuch as obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugartend to occur together. When they do, it’s called metabolic syndrome.
In general, a person who has metabolic syndrome is twice as likely to develop heart disease and five times as likely to develop diabetes as someone who doesn’t have metabolic syndrome.
For more information about the risk factors that are part of metabolic syndrome, go to the Health Topics Metabolic Syndrome article.
How Are Heart Attacks Diagnosed
If you think you might be having a heart attack, you need to head to a hospital straight away. There, a doctor will assess your symptoms and check your vital signs blood pressure, pulse and temperature.
There are several tests that help indicate if youve had a heart attack, and whether damage was caused, such as:
- electrocardiogram electrical leads are placed on your chest, arms and legs to record the electrical signals travelling through your heart muscle
- CT scan or MRI scan
You May Like: How Fast Should Your Heart Rate Be
Why Take Aspirin For A Heart Attack
A heart attack results from a blockage or clot in the arteries leading to the heart. When this happens, the surrounding heart tissue can’t get oxygen, and that tissue can die and weaken the heart. That’s why it’s essential for medical professionals to quickly remove that clot.
You should immediately call 911 if you think you may be experiencing a heart attack. But once you’re on the line with a 911 operator, they might recommend taking an aspirin because it thins the blood and thus makes it harder for further clots to form.
Taking aspirin in the middle of a heart attack is “critical for preventing the heart attack from getting worse,” says Geoffrey Barnes, MD, a cardiologist at University of Michigan Medicine.
A 911 operator might recommend you take one adult-strength aspirin or two to four low-dose aspirin in the middle of a heart attack, according to the American College of Cardiology. One study found that taking aspirin during a heart attack reduced mortality by 23%.
“I would say that aspirin has been at the center of our treatment for heart attacks for decades,” Barnes says. “It is perhaps the most important or one of the most important things we do, and we have been recommending it to people for a very long time.”
How Is A Heart Attack Diagnosed
The ambulance team will do an electrocardiogram to detect whether you’re having a heart attack. If the ECG shows youre having a heart attack, youre likely to have emergency treatment as soon as you arrive in hospital. If the ECG doesnt confirm a heart attack you might need further tests to investigate if you are having a heart attack, including:
- an assessment of your symptoms and medical history
- physical examinations, including measuring your blood pressure and monitoring your heart rhythm and heart rate
- blood tests including a troponin test to detect if theres been any damage to your heart muscle
- further ECGs
- an echocardiogram.
You might hear a heart attack being called acute coronary syndrome, myocardial infarction or coronary thrombosis while you’re at hospital.
Don’t Miss: Does Tylenol Increase Heart Rate
Asa For Prevention: What You Need To Know
The advice has changed on who should take it and who shouldnt. Here are the facts.
Do you take ASA every day to prevent heart disease, stroke or vascular disease? Many people in Canada do. ASA is short for acetylsalicylic acid, which is sold under names including Aspirin, Entrophen and Novasen.
Updated Heart & Stroke recommendations published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2020 might change this daily routine.
For people who have not had a stroke or been diagnosed with heart or vascular disease, taking ASA daily for prevention is not recommended, according to the updated guidelines.
For people who have been diagnosed with one of these conditions, you should still take a daily dose of ASA if it has been prescribed by your doctor.This might seem confusing. Toronto-based family physician Dr. Jeff Habert, who helped develop the recommendations, clears things up.
Should I take ASA every day to prevent heart disease, stroke or vascular disease?
If you do not have heart or vascular disease or stroke, then likely no.
In our updated recommendations, we say the daily use of ASA is not recommended for primary prevention that means preventing a first event such as a heart attack or stroke. If you are healthy and have never had a heart attack or stroke or vascular disease and are taking daily ASA, talk to your healthcare provider before making changes.
These recommendations are only about using ASA for prevention.
Dr. Jeff Habert Family physician
What Are The Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
Symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Angina: Chest pain or discomfort in the center of the chest also described as a heaviness, tightness, pressure, aching, burning, numbness, fullness or squeezing feeling that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. It is sometimes mistakenly thought to be indigestion or heartburn.
- Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body including the arms, left shoulder, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Trouble breathing or feeling shortness of breath.
- Sweating or “cold sweat.”
- Rapid or irregular heart beats.
If you are having any of these symptoms and they last for more than 5 minutes, SEEK EMERGENCY TREATMENT WITHOUT DELAY. These symptoms could be the signs of a heart attack and you need to get treatment as soon as possible.
Read Also: Atropine Arrhythmia
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.
What Is A Cardiac Rehabilitation Program
Before you leave the hospital, your doctor may talk to you about a cardiac rehabilitation program. These programs provide information that will help you understand your risk factors. It will help you live a healthy lifestyle that can prevent future heart problems. You will learn about exercise and diet, and how to reach and maintain a healthy weight. You will also learn ways to control your stress level, your blood pressure, and your cholesterol levels.
Your cardiac rehabilitation program will probably start while you are still in the hospital. After you leave the hospital, your rehabilitation will continue in a rehab center. The rehab center may be at the hospital or in another location.
Most cardiac rehabilitation programs last 3 to 6 months. Your doctor will talk to you about how often you need to attend the program. Once you enroll in a cardiac rehabilitation program, regular attendance is important. The more lifestyle changes you make, the better your chances of preventing future heart problems.
The sooner you get medical help, the greater your chances of surviving a heart attack. Do not delay getting immediate medical attention if you are experiencing symptoms of heart attack.
Recommended Reading: Reflux And Palpitations
Aspirin For Heart Attack First Aid
The reason you need aspirin is the same reason you should call 911 without delay: A heart attack is a dynamic event, and early intervention can limit the damage. The paramedics can give you oxygen and medication, and they’ll monitor your blood pressure and heart rhythm to forestall complications as they speed you to the ER. In the hospital, doctors will take EKGs and blood tests to see if you are having a heart attack if so, they will usually try to open the blocked artery with an angioplasty and stent or, if that’s not available, with a clot-busting drug.
It’s modern cardiology at its best, and it has improved considerably the outlook for heart attack victims. But how can a humble aspirin tablet add to high-tech medicine, and why is speed so important?
Most heart attacks develop when a cholesterol-laden plaque in a coronary artery ruptures. Relatively small plaques, which produce only partial blockages, are the ones most likely to rupture. When they do, they attract platelets to their surface. Platelets are the tiny blood cells that trigger blood clotting. A clot, or thrombus, builds up on the ruptured plaque. As the clot grows, it blocks the artery. If the blockage is complete, it deprives a portion of the heart muscle of oxygen. As a result, muscle cells die and it’s a heart attack.