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What You Should Know about Heart Attack – Symptoms and Treatment

A heart attack occurs when a coronary artery is clogged or blocked suddenly. Before the heart attack occurs, there may be a gradual blockage of a coronary vessel with cholesterol plaque. The difference between stable CAD and a heart attack is that during the heart attack, one of the cholesterol plaques has cracked, causing a hemorrhage that blocks the vessel, or the vessel has narrowed until a tiny clot or clump of platelets can block it and deprive the muscle downstream of the blood necessary for survival.

Sometimes, some of the cells that line the coronary artery are sheared off by a rapid blood flow or some other damaging process. The tissue that is exposed promotes vigorous clotting that can block the vessel suddenly. Sometimes blood flows into the exposed cholesterol plaque and shears off a portion of it, forming a flap valve that suddenly blocks the vessel. However the blockage occurs, it prevents blood from reaching some of the heart muscle, causing part of that muscle to die.

What are the symptoms of a heart attack ?
Classically, a heart attack presents with a sudden onset of severe, crushing chest pain located under the sternum (breast bone) and spreading to the left armpit, arm, shoulder, neck, and jaw. If pain is rated on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being very mild and 10 being the worst pain ever experienced, heart attack pain is often 8-10. At the beginning, the pain may be less severe and may come and go over a period of hours, but severe pain is common. The pain can be associated with nausea, vomiting, sweating, palpitations, and shortness of breath.
heart attack symptoms and pain
Sometimes people will have only abdominal discomfort or back pain. Women may have symptoms different from those in men. If a heart attack is suspected, you (or your family) should call an ambulance to take you to the nearest hospital. Speedy transport to the hospital is critical because 50% of all people who die of heart attack do so within the first hour. Many of these early deaths are preventable with prompt medical attention. The earlier treatment is given, the more heart muscle can be saved.

People with diabetes often have different or no symptoms of heart attack. Silent heart attacks are common. If you have several risk factors for heart disease, be alert for any heart attack symptoms, including sudden out-of-control blood glucose levels. It is not unusual for people with diabetes to have the symptoms of nausea and shortness of breath but no chest pain because of damage to the sensory nerves of the heart. Discuss with your doctor whether you need any tests. Heart attack is common in people with diabetes – 30-50% more common than in other people of similar age, sex, and risk factors. The risk of having another heart attack is increased, and the risk is higher for people with type 1 than for those with type 2 diabetes.

What You Should Know about Heart Attack – Symptoms and Treatment
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