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Heart Attack

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A heart attack or "myocardial infarction" results from a blockage of blood flow through one of the hearts arteries. Without blood supply, the heart muscle dies. Although a myocardial infarction is a sudden event, it is due to arteriosclerosis that develops very slowly over time.

Arteriosclerosis is the formation of fatty plaque along the inside of the artery wall. This plaque can build up and completely block the artery, thus causing a heart attack. Once the plaque forms on the inside of the artery wall, there is a tendency for blood clots to form. These too can cause blockage of blood flow, resulting in a heart attack. A further cause of heart attacks are arterial spasms, a quick and abrupt stoppage of blood flow.

Symptoms of A Heart Attack

Symptoms of a heart attack vary from person to person. Heart attack pain may range from an intense crushing pain to mild chest tightness. Although it is not very common, some people experience indigestion or no chest pain at all.

According to the American Heart Association, the warning signs of a heart attack include:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, or a squeezing pain in the center of your chest for more than two minutes.
  • Pain radiating to your shoulders, neck, arms, jaw or upper back.
  • Severe pain, dizziness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.

It is very common to ignore these symptoms or blame them on indigestion. However, if you experience these, call 911 or have someone drive you to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately.

Heart Attack Risk Factors

Several risk factors predispose you toward having a heart attack. Some you can control and others you cannot. Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor which you can change. Nicotine raises blood pressure and causes arteries to narrow.

You cannot change diabetes and high blood pressure. You can control your blood pressure and practice good diabetic control by taking medication, reducing your weight and lowering your salt intake. You can also modify high cholesterol levels with medication and/or diet.

One factor which cannot be changed is family background. You cannot choose your parents. However, you can exercise and maintain your ideal body weight to help minimize your risks.

How Do You Know If You've Had A Myocardial Infarction?

If you're admitted to the hospital. Blood work will be obtained to help determine whether you've had a heart attack. An EKG will also be done to obtain data to support the diagnosis.

What's Next?

If you have a heart attack, a portion of your heart muscle has been injured. The recovery process takes about four to six weeks. Your doctor will advise you about the level of activity that is appropriate for your situation during this process and after your recovery.

Cardiovascular diagnostic and interventional procedures may cause unexpected problems, but serious and life-threatening problems are unusual. Your Florida Heart Group physician will discuss the potential risks and benefits in detail so you can both decide which treatment is best for you.

To learn more or to contact our practice, please call 407.894.4474 to request an appointment.