What Does a Heart Attack Feel Like?
- Pain or pressure in the chest
- Discomfort spreading to the back, jaw, throat, or arm
- Nausea, indigestion, or heartburn
- Weakness, anxiety, or shortness of breath
- Fast or irregular heartbeats
It's an emergency - even when your symptoms are mild.
An Overview of the Heart
Related Conditions & Treatments
A build-up of sticky plaque (fat and cholesterol) can narrow your heart's arteries, making it harder for blood to pass through. Many people don't even know there's a problem until an artery is clogged by a blood clot and they have a heart attack. But there may be warning signs of coronary artery disease, like frequent chest pain - called angina.
Plaque is hard on the outside and mushy on the inside. Sometimes that hard outer shell cracks. When this happens, a blood clot forms. If it completely blocks your artery, it cuts off the blood supply to part of your heart.
Blood carries oxygen and a shortage of oxygen can quickly damage the organ and possibly kill you. The attack is sudden, and it's important to get medical help right away. Swipe
Your heart beats because of electrical impulses, and they can get off rhythm. Arrhythmias can make your heart race, slow down, or quiver. They're often harmless and pass quickly, but some types can affect your blood flow and take a serious toll on your body.
Tell your doctor if you notice anything unusual.
Mention heart disease, and most people picture a heart attack. But the term covers several conditions that can hurt your ticker and keep it from doing its job. These include coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy, and heart failure. Learn the warning signs of each and how to react.
Women don't always feel chest pain. Compared to men, they're more likely to have heartburn, heart flutters, lose their appetite, cough, or feel tired and weak. Don't ignore these symptoms. The longer you wait to get treatment, the more damage will be done.
If you think you're having a heart attack, call 999 right away, even if you're not sure. Don't wait to see if you feel better and don't drive yourself to the hospital. A fast response can save your life.
Abnormal heart muscle, or cardiomyopathy, makes it hard to pump and carry blood to the rest of your body. Over time, health problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes can cause this serious condition, which can lead to heart failure.
This doesn't mean your heart stops working. It means the organ can't pump enough blood to meet your body's needs. So over time, it gets bigger and pumps faster. This weakens the muscle and lowers the amount of blood flowing out even more, which adds to the problem.
Most cases of heart failure are the result of coronary artery disease and heart attacks.
This isn't the same as a heart attack. Sudden cardiac death happens when the heart's electrical system goes haywire, making it beat irregularly and dangerously fast. Instead of pumping out blood to your body, your chambers quiver.
A defibrillator can help bring back a regular heartbeat, but without it, the person can die within minutes. Start CPR while waiting for a defibrillator and have someone call 999 immediately.
of Heart Conditions
This measures how well your heart works when it's pushed hard. You walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike, and the workout gets tougher. Meanwhile, your doctor watches your EKG, heart rate, and blood pressure to see if the organ gets enough blood.
This portable device records the rhythm of your heart. If your doctor thinks there's a problem, he might ask you to wear the monitor for a day or two. It tracks the electrical activity nonstop (unlike an ECG, which is a snapshot in time). Your doctor will probably ask you to log your activities and symptoms, too.
Pictures of your heart, lungs, and chest bones are made with a small amount of radiation. Doctors use them to spot signs of trouble. In this image, the bulge on the right is an enlarged left ventricle, the main pumping chamber.
Cardiac computerized tomography takes detailed X-rays of your heart and its blood vessels. A computer then stacks the images to create a 3-D picture. Doctors use it to look for buildups of plaque or calcium in your coronary arteries, as well as valve problems and other types of heart disease.
In this procedure, your doctor guides a narrow tube, called a catheter, through a blood vessel in your arm or leg until it reaches your heart. Then, he injects dye into each coronary artery, which makes them easy to see in an X-ray. The picture shows any blockages and how bad they are.
Most types are long-lasting. At first, symptoms can be hard to spot and may not disturb your daily life but left alone and ignored, they will get worse.
If your heart starts to fail, you might be short of breath or feel tired. Keep an eye out for swelling in your belly, ankles, feet, or legs. In many cases, long-term treatment can help keep things under control. You can fight heart failure with medication, lifestyle changes, surgery, or a transplant.
A number of prescription drugs can help you. Some lower blood pressure, heart rate, or cholesterol levels. Others control irregular rhythms or prevent clots. If you already have some damage, other medications can help your heart pump blood.
This procedure opens a blocked artery and improves blood flow. Your doctor guides a thin catheter with a balloon on the end into your artery. When the balloon reaches the blockage, the doctor fills it with air. This inflates your artery and allows blood to move freely. He may also put in a small mesh tube called a stent to keep it open.
Your doctor might suggest this operation if you have one or more arteries that are too narrow or blocked. He first removes a blood vessel from an area of your body, such as your chest, belly, legs, or arms, and then attaches it to a healthy artery in your heart. Your blood is guided around the problem area, "bypassing" it.
How to Reduce the Risk of a Heart Condition
Who Gets Heart Disease?
Men are more likely to have a heart attack than women, and at an earlier age. But heart disease is still the No. 1 killer of both sexes. People with a family history of it also have a higher risk.
Things You Can Control
These daily habits can lower your chances of heart disease:
- Exercise regularly (30 minutes most days).
- Stay at a healthy weight.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Limit how much alcohol you drink (one drink a day for women, two a day for men).
- Don't smoke.
If you have diabetes, it's important to manage your blood sugar levels. And if you have high cholesterol and high blood pressure, do everything you can to get them in check.
Life with Heart Disease
Get back on track with a cardiac rehab program. Your doctor can give you a referral. Specialists will help you come up with a plan that covers exercise, nutrition, emotional support, and more. These programs can make a big difference for you.
If you are worried about your risk of coronary heart disease and other heart conditions, click the button below to book a consultation today.