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Every year, over one million people suffer from a heart attack in the U.S. Heart attacks fall under the general category of heart disease, a killer which takes nearly one million people every year. The medical term for a heart attack is a myocardial infraction. Infraction means that some of the tissue in the heart dies due to a lack of blood and oxygen.
As heart attacks are so common in this country, it is imperative that people are aware of the symptoms and warning signs so that they are able to seek medical attention when they need it. Many victims of heart attacks notice a heaviness or pain in their chest when a heart attack begins, as well as an increase in their heart rate or an irregular heart rate.
Lesser known symptoms of a heart attack include pain coming from the back of the throat or pain in the arms. The victim may also feel as though they are choking or suffering from indigestion. As these symptoms could possibly be coming from another issue, one indication that it is in fact a heart attack is that the symptoms last longer than 30 minutes and do not go away with rest or other treatment. It is also important to remember that some heart attacks are not accompanied by any symptoms and those with diabetes are more prone to these “silent heart attacks.”
Causes of Heart Attacks
In order to be able to successfully prevent heart attacks from occurring, it is important to be aware of the different circumstances which can lead to a heart attack. By far, the leading cause of heart attacks is coronary heart disease. Known as CHD, this involves a buildup of plaque within the one of the coronary arteries. As these arteries carry oxygen and blood to the heart, any blockage can be life-threatening. This buildup of plaque does not happen overnight, but only accumulates after many years.
Again, over time, the artery around the plaque can rupture and a blood clot can form. This will add to the problem as a blood clot will further block to flow of blood to the heart tissue. If the blockage is allowed to continue, the tissue the blood was flowing to will start to die and scar tissue will appear in its place. This heart damage is not only serious, but permanent, and can lead to other complications such as a heart attack.
Heart attacks can also be caused by a spasm in the artery leading to the heart. Even though the artery may be free of plaque, the spasm can be just as successful in cutting off the blood supply to an area of the heart. In other cases, however, the cause of the heart attack is simply unknown. Heart attacks can occur after the victim was involved in some form of rigorous physical activity, or it could occur while they are fast asleep.
It could occur after a time of immense stress or when the patient is in cold weather doing something active. Whatever the cause, the key is to get treatment as soon as possible after noticing symptoms which could possibly point to a heart attack.
Treating a Heart Attack
Once arriving at the hospital, the medical staff will listen to your chest and examine your heart rate and blood pressure. One test which can accurately confirm or deny whether you are having a heart attack is a troponin blood test. It can defect if there is any tissue damage in the heart and thus show if the symptoms being felt is a heart attack.
Another possible test which may be administered is a coronary angiography. This inserts dye into the blood and an x-ray shows how the blood travels through the heart. You may also be given oxygen so that your heart does not have to work as hard or you may be given drugs like nitroglycerin.
Angioplasty is a surgical procedure during which a tube is inserted into the artery or blood vessel which helps remove the blockage and restore blood flow. You could be given drugs which specifically target blood clots in an effort to remove the blockage. As acting quickly is imperative in heart attacks, any delay on the part of the medical staff could be fatal.
If they fail to run the proper tests or misdiagnose the symptoms, the patient could be left with serious and permanent heart damage or even die as a result. If you have more questions concerning medical malpractice and heart attacks, please get in touch with our office today!