Heart Attack 101

Health, Home & Family
on February 15, 2012

Heart attacks are serious events that must be acted upon quickly to ensure the best outcome possible. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, heart attacks are a leading killer of American men and women. Heart attack treatment is more effective than ever and even leads to life saving and disability prevention, as well as minimizes heart damage. If the key to heart attacks is proactivity, you’ll need to bone up on your heart attack knowledge. Sign up for heart attack 101 and graduate with a degree in heart attack awareness.

What happens in a heart attack? A heart attack is caused when a blood clot in a coronary artery blocks blood flow to and from the heart. The Mayo Clinic explains that the resulting interrupted blood flow can damage or destroy part of the heart muscle. The heart attack, or myocardial infarction, is often fatal when the symptoms of the heart attack are not immediately recognized or are confused with another condition with similar symptoms.

What does a heart attack feel like? Heart attack symptoms are different for each individual. Some heart attacks are very mild, and symptoms are disarmingly minor or there are no recognizable symptoms. Symptoms vary widely when they do occur. Signs characteristic of a heart attack include:

  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Clamminess
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Sense of doom
  • Chest pain
  • Pressure, fullness or squeezing sensation in the chest
  • Pain radiating to the shoulder, arm, back, jaw and even teeth
  • Prolonged pain in the upper abdomen
  • Shortness of breath

Why is it important to get to a doctor? The Mayo Clinic states emphatically that if you are experiencing any of these symptoms or fear you are having a heart attack that you should call for emergency medical assistance immediately — even drive yourself to the emergency room as a last resort. It is important to get medical care as soon as possible because for every minute that goes by after a heart attack, more heart tissue deteriorates and dies. Blood flow must be restored to the heart as quickly as possible to prevent heart damage and even death.