Heart attacks occur when the heart’s blood flow is abruptly blocked. In the absence of blood, the heart cannot receive oxygen. Unless treated rapidly, the heart muscle will die. Quick treatment, however, may prevent or limit damage to the heart muscle.
If you suspect a heart attack, call 999 immediately. Call even if you aren’t sure if it’s a heart attack.
In both men and women, the following symptoms are most common:
- Discomfort in the chest. There is often pain in the chest, typically on the left side. Most of the time, it lasts longer than a few minutes. It may disappear and reappear. Pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain can all be experienced. The feeling can also be similar to heartburn or indigestion.
- Having trouble breathing. Your only symptom may be this. Chest discomfort may precede or accompany it. You can experience it while resting or exercising a bit.
- Upper body discomfort. The upper part of the stomach, one or both arms, the back, shoulders, neck, or shoulders may feel painful or uncomfortable.
In addition to these symptoms, you may experience nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and light-headedness. Your body may go into a cold sweat. It is not uncommon for women to have different symptoms than men. As an example, they are more prone to feeling tired without a cause.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the leading cause of heart attacks. It is characterized by the build up of cholesterol and other materials on the inner walls of the arteries, called plaque. As a result, atherosclerosis develops. It can accumulate over time. Plaques eventually rupture and as a result, blood clots can form around the plaque and block the artery.
Heart attacks can also be caused by severe spasms (tightening) of the coronary arteries. Spasms block blood flow through the arteries.
You will be diagnosed at the hospital based on your symptoms, blood tests, and different heart health tests.
Medications and medical procedures such as coronary angioplasty may be used as treatments. Cardiovascular rehabilitation and lifestyle changes can help you recover after a heart attack.
To discuss diagnosis and treatment options, please book an appointment with our specialist.
To learn more about heart attack, please click on https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heart-attack/
Dr Ibrahim Yahli MD MRCPsych