A heart attack takes place when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked, most often due to a buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries. Plaque is a combination of fatty acids and cholesterol that buildup over time. It narrows the arteries in a condition called coronary artery disease – a common cause of heart attacks. When the plaque raptures during a heart attack, it spills cholesterol into the bloodstream and forms a blood clot. A large clot blocks blood from flowing through the coronary artery and keeps oxygen and nutrients from reaching the heart. The coronary artery may be partially or completely blocked.
The use of tobacco and illicit drugs can also cause a heart attack. They may cause a spasm of the coronary artery and shut down blood from flowing to the heart muscle. A COVID-19 infection may also damage the heart and cause a heart attack. When you go to the ER for heart problems, they will diagnose the cause of your heart attack.
Different people have symptoms varying in severity during a heart attack. Some have no symptoms, and the heart attack strikes suddenly. Hours, days, or weeks before an attack, you may have recurring chest pain or pressure triggered by strenuous activity. This is an early warning of a heart attack that occurs when blood flow to the heart decreases temporarily. The chest pain or pressure is relieved by rest.
You should not wait for the pain to stop on its own but seek emergency treatment for a heart attack. If your doctor has previously prescribed some nitroglycerin or aspirin, you may take some to reduce the damage to your heart as you wait for treatment.
Common signs of a heart attack are:
Call a 24-hour ER if you experience chest pain accompanied by shortness of breath, lightheadedness or sudden weakness, sweating, fast or irregular heartbeat, nausea, and vomiting. Emergency treatment to open the blocked artery will lessen the damage caused by the heart attack. If someone near you becomes unconscious due to a heart attack, call Express ER in Harker Heights for emergency medical help immediately.
When the person has no pulse or is not breathing, begin CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) immediately. Push hard in a fairly rapid manner on the person’s chest if you are not trained in CPR.
When you go to an ER near you for chest pain and other symptoms of a heart attack, they will carry out a diagnosis to identify the cause of your chest pain for suitable treatment. Diagnostic tests for heart attack include:
This is a test that records the electrical activity of your heart to tell where and how much the heart has been damaged.
It is an ultrasound test used during and after the heart attack to find out how the heart is pumping and where it is not pumping as required.
This is a test that shows an image of the artery that is blocked to help the doctor choose a suitable treatment.
A radionuclide scan or a treadmill test is carried out to find out if other areas of the heart are at risk of another heart attack.
Several blood tests are done to help the doctor diagnose a heart attack. They also show any ongoing damage to the heart.
Some of the medications used to treat a heart attack are: