Heart Attack Symptoms – The Nebraska Medical Center


Symptoms of a heart attack can vary between
individuals. An individual may have the classic symptoms of chest pain or chest pressure,
arm pain, neck pain. But I think there’s a good portion of people who have what we
call atypical (or unusual) symptoms that reflect the heart attack that’s ongoing. That can
be some nausea, some vomiting, almost like a GI distress discomfort. And then I think
the shortness of breath, the shortness of breath with activity or shortness of breath
at rest. I think it’s interesting that a third of people don’t have any symptoms
at all. And we find out that they’ve had a heart attack later in life and you see that
somewhere there’s been an injury and you never were even aware of it. I think those
are what we think classically, but also keep in mind that this can be silent as well. When someone’s experiencing a heart attack
or a friend or a family member or even somebody in the public that you happen to witness some
even is to try to get medical help; call 9-1-1. You need to get the people there that can
help to understand what is this. Is this the real heart attack? Is this something that
has a high mortality? And the quick response is what’s important. We always talk about
“time is muscle”. It only takes a few hours for a heart muscle to die and you never
get that back. So acting quickly and taking care of it is essential. So calling 9-1-1,
being evaluated, making sure you get the appropriate treatment and the appropriate management for
what we worry about is a heart attack is clearly the right thing. Aspirin’s one of the main states for treatment.
And it really comes down to is the artery that gives the blood supply to the heart muscle
is blocked. And that’s blocked because the coagulation factors in the blood stream occlude
that vessel and it’s mostly because there’s a plaque there that’s developed over decades.
That rupture is prothrombotic; so platelets stick to that ruptured plaque. And the way
in which we can help prevent platelets from sticking to that plaque is aspirin. They are. And in fact, that most recently
we’ve had people survive heart attacks because of better medical management, recognition
of it and people actually make it to the hospital, survive their heart attacks and end up in
heart failure. So we’ve actually seen a growth of percent of patient that have heart
failure has the consequence of a heart attack. Where people that never survive that initial
insult before. It’s still quite impressive that 50 percent who have a heart attack don’t
make it to the hospital. And there’s a good chance that a good portion of those people
that make it to the hospital don’t live more than 30 to 90 days. So it’s still a
highly lethal problem. I’ll be it; we’re better at it. I think it comes back to saying
“we need to prevent that heart attack to begin with because if you’re going to flip
a coin the day it happens and you were ok yesterday, I’d want to prevent that from
happening, if I could.

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