Surprisingly, it is sometimes hard to know if a person is having a heart attack.
While some people have the classic “elephant standing on my chest”–type of chest pain, heart attack symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for minor conditions, such as indigestion.
However, a heart attack requires immediate medical intervention, so if you or a loved one have any of the following symptoms, you may be having a heart attack and need to get appropriate medical assistance as soon as possible:
- Pain, pressure, or a feeling of “tightness” or “squeezing” in the chest, which may radiate to the arms, back, neck, or jaw
- Nausea; feelings of heartburn, abdominal pain, or indigestion
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Shortness of breath
- Breaking into a cold sweat
- Sudden fatigue
The sooner you get medical assistance, the more likely you or your loved one is to recover.
If someone arrives at an emergency room with a suspected heart attack, they will likely be treated immediately with oxygen therapy. Because the danger of a heart attack stems from death of heart muscle due to lack of oxygen, oxygen therapy can prevent permanent damage.
Nitroglycerin may be administered to help blood flow.
The patient will be hooked up to an electrocardiogram (EKG), a machine which records heart activity. The results of the EKG will help the doctor determine what type of heart attack is being experienced.
Depending on the type, the following medications may be administered:
- Thrombolytics, informally known as “clot busters,” which will dissolve clots that are causing a blockage
- Anticoagulants, informally known as “blood thinners,” which work to prevent further clotting
- Beta-blockers, which reduce the heart’s workload
- ACE-inhibitors, which relax the coronary arteries, making it easier for blood to flow to the heart
Depending on the underlying cause of the heart attack, the following procedures may also be performed:
- Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI), in which a tube is inserted into the blocked artery and inflated, to widen the blocked artery
- Stent insertion, in which a small metal tube is inserted in the artery to keep it open
- Coronary Artery Bypass, a more complex surgery in which a blood vessel is taken from another part of the body and added to the blocked vessel, “bypassing” it in order to allow blood flow.
Regardless of the type of heart attack, cardiac rehabilitation is the way to ensure the best possible recovery. Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ, offers world-class cardiac rehabilitation, with its state-of-the-art equipment and SMART rehab program. SMART rehab includes seven-day-a-week therapy, which allows for faster recovery times. We create an individualized care plan for each patient, based on their personal doctor’s protocol, and our multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, therapists, counselors, dietitians, and nutritionists offer all the support a cardiac patient needs to recover their best possible health.
Or better yet, find out for yourself: Contact us by calling 609-588-5800 or by clicking here.