Heart Attack Symptoms

Heart attacks (also known as a myocardial infarction or "MI") are unfortunately very common throughout the United States

In fact, a heart attack occurs on average every twenty seconds in America and they cost around 500,000 people their lives every. Various costs from heart attacks amount to approximately sixty billion dollars.

So what happens during a heart attack? When a heart attack occurs, the heart stops receiving the necessary blood to function appropriately. This happens when arteries become clogged. Arteries may become clogged for various reasons including high fat, high blood pressure, and occasionally high stress levels. When the heart lacks the necessary blood it starts to starve similar to the way a person might be starved of oxygen. The heart muscle begins to slowly die and heart pain occurs for the individual. This is what happens during a heart attack. Fortunately, for those who survive such an attack, the heart muscle will heal. It generally starts to heal and scar similar to a scrape healing on the knee soon after the heart attack. The muscle can heal almost entirely for most people in about two months. Unfortunately, the heart does retain scar damage and is not able to pump as efficiently as it could before.

Heart Attack Symptoms

There are many different heart attack symptoms. Heart pain is one of the major heart attack symptoms, but heart pain does not always mean one is having an attack. When heart pain extends all the way around the upper body and/or into the stomach that is something about which one should be concerned. Often victims of myocardial infarction, the medical name for these attacks, claim it felt as though an elephant were sitting on their chest! Other heart attack symptoms include heavy sweating or a lightheaded feeling which is often accompanied by "tunnel vision". This is a phenomenon that occurs when one is unable to see the outer edge of their normal field of vision. Sometimes victims also describe heart attack symptoms involving digestive issues such as nausea and vomiting. This can occur before or after the event. There are other, less common heart attack symptoms as well. In the case of a stress related attack, victims often feel particularly anxious or stressed out. A final significant symptom is a severe pain in the left arm. This pain is often excruciating and debilitating and many times is the initial sign of a myocardial infraction.

Heart Attack Treatment

It is particularly significant once one starts to feel extreme heart pain to attempt to treat the myocardial infarction as soon as possible. Responding early can help prevent the heart muscle from developing too much damage. If the heart pain is severe enough to cause a suspected attack then aspirin should be taken immediately. Most doctors suggest chewing an aspirin tablet with a coating on it. Victims should immediately go to the emergency room if they suspect they are experiencing an attack. Doctors will implement one of various treatments such as providing thrombolytic medication which works to get rid of clots. Angioplasty is another form of treatment and this is a balloon-like tool which is used to open the artery. After the artery is opened a stent is inserted which is a tube-shaped structure similar to a small spring. This permanently prevents the blood vessel from becoming blocked again. Beta blockers may also be used. These are medications that take the pressure off of the heart so that it is not trying to pump blood too quickly which can cause further damage. ACE inhibitors are another treatment and they function in the same manner as beta blockers. Myocardial infarctions are dangerous and harmful, but there are many treatments available. It is important to be aware of the symptoms and seek treatment immediately.

Last Updated: June 20, 2017