Conditions Heart Attack (Acute Myocardial Infarction)
What is a Heart Attack (also called an Acute Myocardial Infarction or MI)?
More than one million Americans have a Heart Attack every year. Better treatment options and community awareness have decreased mortality rates over the years. Yet, lack of recognition or a disregard for the warning signs of a Heart Attack is still a major cause of death.
In the event of a Heart Attack, every second counts.
What are the warning signs and symptoms of a Heart Attack?
Men typically experience the following common warning signs of a Heart Attack:
Women may have symptoms that differ from men. While chest pain is often a key warning sign of a Heart Attack, some women who have a Heart Attack do not experience chest pain. A woman's pain, may be in the back, arm, neck, shoulder, and/or throat. Also, women will typically have more "non-pain" symptoms than men. These include vomiting, nausea, fatigue and shortness of breath.
It is also surprisingly common for people to experience no symptoms at all. This is especially true of diabetics and those over the age of 75. We recommend that these individuals visit their family physician and/or cardiologist on a regular basis to continually monitor their health.
Do not ignore the warning signs of a Heart Attack. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1 because it is quite possibly signaling a Heart Attack.
How is a Heart Attack evaluated?
Other possible tests your doctor may order to evaluate a possible Heart Attack are:
If your doctor determines that you are having a Heart Attack (or have already had one), he or she will quickly stabilize the condition in several ways.
What are the treatment options for a Heart Attack?
Take one regular strength (preferably non-coated) aspirin or 4 baby aspirin, and chew the aspirin(s) to increase absorption into your system. The aspirin works to thin the blood, allowing more oxygen-rich blood to get through the narrowed artery to your heart. Aspirin has proven to reduce fatality by about 25% in Heart Attack victims.
If someone you know is having a Heart Attack, call 9-1-1 and have them chew and swallow an aspirin. If they are unconscious, first call 9-1-1, and then begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (CPR) to provide oxygen to the brain, heart, and the rest of the body. If you are unfamiliar with how to perform CPR, the emergency personnel on the phone line can assist you until help arrives.
Upon arrival to the hospital, if you have not already taken an aspirin, a doctor may instruct you to chew an aspirin right then. An Electrocardiogram (EKG) will be done immediately to determine if a Heart Attack is occurring, or has already happened. If the diagnosis is a Heart Attack, the doctor will promptly begin treatment to open the blockage, and get much needed oxygen-rich blood to your heart.
Changing your lifestyle to reduce your risk factors is one of the most important steps you can take to improve your overall cardiovascular condition.