Almost 785,000 Americans will have a first heart attack sometime during 2013. That’s scary. One of the most important things to realize is that the symptoms of a heart attack might not always be what is shown on TV or in movies. What you do in those first vital moments can change the course of the rest of your life.
When a heart attack happens, time is critical and seconds count. Here’s what the experts want you to do.
Don’t wait to get medical attention, the longer your symptoms last, the greater damage is being done to the heart muscle. The start of symptoms is a signal from the body that blood flow to your heart has been blocked. At the hospital they can take steps to quickly restore the blood flow, preventing more damage.
Don’t drive yourself, or let someone drive you, to the hospital. Call 911 for an ambulance as this vehicle has equipment to perform an EKG on the way to the hospital and treat any heart rhythm abnormalities you might have. During a heart attack your heart can stop, and the ambulance has the equipment your car does not to restart the heart, as well as EMTs to perform CPR.
Chew one uncoated aspirin while waiting for the ambulance as this can help slow the formation of blood clots that can be the cause of a heart attack.
Once at the hospital there are many treatment options for heart attack. The most effective is angioplasty, a minimally invasive, nonsurgical procedure that opens the blocked artery; sometimes clot-destroying medications are given to remove the clot that is blocking the artery. In rare, rather serious cases, emergency coronary artery bypass is performed.
So what symptoms should you watch for? In real life, heart attacks are nothing like the grasping the chest in agony and falling to the ground scenes on TV. Heart attack symptoms are truly quite variable, many patients say they felt more of an ache or discomfort, a dull pain in the chest that might seem like indigestion, but there’s also nausea, shortness or breath or heartburn. Some patients have arm, neck, jaw or even back pain as well as upper stomach discomfort, dizziness, change in heart rhythm and sudden cold sweats.
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Important Things To Know About Heart Attack Continued…
A woman experiences different symptoms when she’s having a heart attack, ones that are sometimes subtle and hard to identify. They may not even feel chest pain, though some women do of course. For a women, sudden weakness/fatigue, body aches or flu like symptoms are often what you see.
The amazing thing is how far we’ve come in treating heart attack; the medical technology available today is doing wonders for people. Most patients can go home, and back to their regular lives, within days of being treated. Still heart attacks are life-changing events and you need to look at your current lifestyle. Can you be eating better? How can you work regular activity into your life going forward? Can you cut your stress levels? And what about quitting smoking?
You’ll be taking medication regularly after your heart attack, and you’ll need to be consistent about follow up with your cardiologist and primary care doctor. The good news is that making these changes will truly increase your odds of never having another heart attack.
To your good health,