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What is a Heart Attack?

A heart attack occurs when there is a critical build up of blockage, usually with (but sometimes without) plaque breaking open and clot formation within an artery supplying blood to the heart. In some cases, there is spasm of the artery (muscle in the artery wall clamps down the artery) which decreases blood flow. In both cases, without adequate blood and oxygen flow to the heart muscle, the heart muscle can be damaged and die. If not treated quickly, this can result in permanent heart dysfunction and/or death.

What are the Signs/Symptoms of a Heart Attack?

Symptoms of heart attack may include:

  • Chest discomfort (location and character can vary)

  • Arm, neck, back, jaw discomfort

  • Shortness of breath

  • Sweating and/or clammy skin

  • Severe fatigue

  • Indigestion/reflux-like symptoms

  • Nausea/vomiting

  • Light-headedness, dizziness, passing out

  • Loss of pulse (cardiac arrest)

How is a Heart Attack Diagnosed?

Testing for heart attack is time sensitive because ‘time is muscle’ and typically includes:

What is the Treatment for a Heart Attack?

Treatment for a heart attack involves restoring blood flow to the blocked coronary artery, may include:

  • Medications including blood thinners

  • Aspiration (sucking clot out)

  • Stenting (placing a metal scaffold in the artery to keep it open)

  • Bypass (surgery to re-route blood flow around the blockage)

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