Across the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds, on average. You can avoid being one of these statistics by having regular heart screenings with board-certified physicians Muhammad Khan, MD, and Ambreen Ashfaque, MD, at Cardiac Center of Texas in McKinney, Texas, to detect conditions like coronary artery disease before they cause a heart attack. Heart attacks can cause serious damage to your heart muscle and could lead to cardiac arrest, so prompt treatment is also critical. Call the heart specialists North Texans trust, Cardiac Center of Texas today to find out more or book an appointment using the online form.

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What is a heart attack?

A heart attack is an acute condition that happens when you experience a significant slowing down of blood flow into your heart muscle. Blood coming into the heart is rich in oxygen, which is vital for the muscle’s survival. The most likely cause of a lack of blood flow into your heart is a condition called atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis causes narrowing of the coronary arteries, which bring fresh blood to your heart muscle. It develops slowly due to a gradual buildup of plaque – a fatty substance containing cholesterol that sticks to the inside of your arteries.

Sometimes a section of plaque breaks off, which can cause a blood clot. The clot can impede blood flow and cause ischemia, which means your heart muscle isn’t getting oxygen and nutrients.

A heart attack or myocardial infarction occurs if there’s damage to your heart muscle, or part of the muscle dies because of the ischemia.

What are the symptoms of a heart attack?

The main heart attack symptom is chest pain, which can often be severe. The pain can spread into your neck and arms and around your back. You might also have sensations like tightness or pressure around your chest and an aching feeling.

Heart attack symptoms vary, and you could also experience:

  • Nausea
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Abdominal pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cold sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness

If you experience symptoms like these with chest pain, you could be having a heart attack. You need emergency medical attention if you have a heart attack, so call 911 immediately.

How are heart attacks treated?

A heart attack requires urgent medical attention. There is a danger of potentially life-threatening damage to your heart muscle or cardiac arrest.

The aim of treatment is to increase blood flow into your heart muscle. To achieve this, your provider at Cardiac Center of Texas first might give you medications to thin your blood, dissolve any clots, improve blood flow, relax your heart muscle, and reduce your blood pressure. Medications could include:

  • Aspirin
  • Thrombolytics
  • Antiplatelet agents
  • Heparin
  • Nitroglycerin

You might also need oxygen therapy to raise oxygen levels in your blood.

Depending on the cause of your heart attack, its severity, and the damage to your heart, you might need surgery.

What types of surgery might I need after a heart attack?

One option is coronary angioplasty and stenting — a minimally invasive cardiac catheterization procedure that opens up the blocked artery. Another option is coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG), in which your cardiac surgeon uses a healthy piece of artery to bypass the blocked blood vessel.

The Cardiac Center of Texas also offers cardiac health screening packages and calcium scoring scans to help prevent heart attacks.

If you’re concerned about your heart health or want to arrange a screening, call Cardiac Center of Texas today or book an appointment online.