Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. It’s estimated that every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack.
A heart attack occurs when there is a sudden interruption of blood flow within a diseased artery, typically due to a blood clot that forms when the plaque ruptures. Time is muscle. The early recognition of symptoms is vital to limit the damage done to the heart muscle. The less amount of injury the heart sustains, the better the outcome and prognosis.
Heart Attack Symptoms
The “typical” symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Chest pain that can be described as discomfort, heaviness, tightness, burning, squeezing.
- Pain that radiates across the chest or upper abdomen, up the neck, jaw and shoulders and down the arm.
- Other associated symptoms may include:
- Nausea, vomiting or belching (indigestion)
- Palpitations (skipped heart beats)
- Dizziness, lightheadedness
- Feeling tired
Women, the elderly and diabetics may also experience the above symptoms, however they’re more likely to have “atypical” symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, back pain, abdominal pain, jaw pain and shortness of breath without feeling chest pain.
Do not ignore any of these symptoms, especially if they intensify and last longer than five minutes, immediate medical treatment is necessary.
Who Is At Risk For Heart Disease?
The risk factors for developing heart disease include:
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
- Tobacco use (smoking and chewing)
- Family history of premature heart disease
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Obesity or overweight
- Emotional stress / poor stress management
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- History of high blood pressure, preeclampsia or diabetes during pregnancy
- COVID-19 infection
What Can You Do To Prevent Heart Attacks And Heart Disease?
Promoting good heart health starts by:
- Knowing and recognizing the early signs and symptoms of a heart attack, both “typical” and “atypical.” Time is muscle.
- Identifying and understanding the risk factors for heart disease.
- Seeking medical attention if you develop symptoms suggestive of heart disease or possess significant risk factors.
- Implementing lifestyle modifications focused on appropriate diet and nutrition, regular activity, weight management, smoking cessation, reduced alcohol intake and stress management.
- Initiating medical therapy as guided by your care provider.
- Embracing a positive and joyful attitude.
We're Here To Help!
The SCL Health Heart & Vascular Institute combines the strength of leading cardiovascular specialists with some of the area’s best heart hospitals, including Platte Valley Medical Center in Brighton, as well as regional centers of excellence such as Saint Joseph Hospital and National Jewish Health in Denver. Our team of experienced and highly-qualified cardiologists and vascular specialists provides you with the highest level of care, from heart attack prevention and surgical care, to specialized rehabilitation, all to keep your heart healthy and strong.
For more information visit SCLhealth.org/heart or call 303-659-7000 to make an appointment with a cardiologist.
Donald A. Rabor, MD
Lead Physician, SCL Health Heart and Vascular Institute - Brighton