As many as one million people experience a heart attack each year in the United States. A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to the heart muscle is blocked. Heart attack is a serious health event that needs immediate medical attention. Heart attack is the leading cause of death in America.
What Happens During A Heart Attack?
The heart is fed by an intricate system of blood vessels that feed it oxygen and nutrients that keep it functioning properly. When this blood supply is cut off or blocked, the heart tissue becomes damaged. The heart reacts with pain and constriction. Medically, a heart attack is called a myocardial infarction. “Myocardial” means “heart muscle,” and “infarction” means “death of tissue from blocked blood supply.”
Symptoms of Heart Attack
The symptoms of a heart attack include angina, or pain in the center of the chest. This pain can feel like indigestion or heartburn, with a burning sensation or feeling of pressure. The pain can radiate into other areas of the body, such as the arms, back, jaw, left shoulder or back. The person may have shortness of breath or a choking feeling. There may be nausea or vomiting. The person may experience sweating, dizziness or extreme weakness. If you experience these symptoms, getting immediate medical treatment can preserve your heart tissue and save your life.
Heart Attacks in Women
Heart attack symptoms in women are often slightly different than in men. Women may experience pain or tightness anywhere in the chest or even in the upper back. The pain may feel like fullness or squeezing. It may even be in the neck or jaw. It may come and go before intensifying. It may feel like stomach pain. There may be a feeling of overwhelming fatigue or breathlessness like having run a long race. Women often overlook these symptoms, but they should take them very seriously and seek medical attention immediately.
Treatments For Heart Attack
Medications for heart attack include aspirin, drugs to prevent blood clots and those to keep blood thin and flowing through the heart muscle. Patients undergo a number of tests to assess the damage to the heart. Further surgery may be necessary to remove blockage in the blood vessels or to perform bypass procedures to restore blood flow to the heart. Lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise are also important for those recovering from a heart attack.
For more information on heart attacks visit http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/heart_disease_heart_attacks