HEART ATTACK SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT
Heart attack symptoms and Complications
Most heart attack victims feel some symptoms in the days leading up to the attack:
The most common symptom is angina (chest pain). Chest pain results when the heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen, a condition called ischemia. Angina is likely to get worse or more frequent as the heart attack approaches. This is one of the heart attack symptoms. Other possible symptoms are extreme fatigue and shortness of breath.
If someone has angina, they may have difficulty distinguishing angina symptoms from heart attack pain:
Heart attack symptoms are usually much more severe and longer-lasting (more than 20 minutes) than angina. Heart attack symptoms are relieved only slightly or temporarily by rest or medications used to relieve angina.
Many people report feeling a sense of warning as a heart attack approaches. There can be tightness, pressure, pain, and a squeezing feeling in the chest. The pain may also be felt in the back, jaw, shoulder, or arm (especially the left arm). The heart may speed up and beat irregularly. Although chest pain is usually the first symptom, up to 20% of people having a heart attack do not experience chest pain.
These other symptoms may or may not develop:
- shortness of breath
- nausea and vomiting
- temporary changes in vision
Almost everyone who suffers a heart attack experiences arrhythmias:
Some of these irregular heartbeats are harmless, while other types can cause serious problems, even death. One type, ventricular fibrillation (VF), can lead to death in about 5 minutes.
The left ventricle, the main pumping chamber of the heart, quivers uselessly instead of delivering blood to the body. The heart does this because of the lack of oxygen delivery.
Not all heart attacks are this severe. In fact, some heart attacks go unnoticed or are shrugged off as heartburn or angina.
Distinguishing a heart attack from heartburn is not as easy as you might think:
antacids and belching can actually relieve heart attack pain, though it usually returns quickly. Nitroglycerin sprays or pills, often carried by people with angina, may also relieve pain temporarily. However, chest discomfort caused by most heart attacks is not relieved by nitroglycerin.
Treatment and Prevention
The first step in heart attack prevention is identifying and reducing risk factors such as smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, and high-fat diets:
Talk to your doctor about personal risk factors and how to make lifestyle changes to reduce the chances of a heart attack, such as:
- quitting smoking
- staying physically active and incorporating regular exercise into a daily routine – exercise will help with weight reduction and will lower cholesterol
- watching your diet – you may need to consult a nutritionist for advice about healthy foods that can help to lower cholesterol
If someone experiences symptoms that might be a heart attack, they should call an ambulance right away:
A variety of effective treatments are available to heart attack victims, but these must be given quickly in order to be effective. 50% of deaths due to heart attack occur within 3 to 4 hours of the beginning of the symptoms. The most important thing you need to do is the reach the hospital as quickly as possible. This will increase the chance of survival.
A defibrillator is a pair of high-voltage paddles that can deliver an electric shock to the heart. Its purpose is to stop ventricular fibrillation.
The early treatment of a heart attack aims to restore blood flow and preserve heart muscle:
After a heart attack occurs, you need rehabilitation or post-MI care for the heart to heal and to prevent future attacks. Cardiac rehabilitation programs is usually an hospital plan.
Depending on the severity of the heart attack, may continue for weeks or months once you return home. Post-MI management includes medication, lifestyle changes, and psychological care.
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