A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a part of your heart is blocked for a long enough time that part of the heart muscle is damaged or dies. Your doctor calls this a myocardial infarction. When someone is experiencing a heart attack, every second counts. Even in the midst of a pandemic, that message does not change. Individuals who are experiencing heart attack symptoms need to seek medical attention immediately. Learn more. If you observe the signs of a heart attack in yourself or someone else, call 911 immediately.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack is an important part of educating yourself about the dangers of heart disease, especially if you are someone at high risk for this condition. However, indications of a heart attack can vary among men and women, according to research by the National Institutes of Health.
One of the most common signs of a heart attack is chest pain, but studies show that some women never experience chest pain, either leading up to or during a heart attack. Women also tend to experience symptoms up to a month before the actual heart attack occurs, and the symptoms are often subtler than those of men.
While heart attack signs may vary between men and women, it is important to be prepared and not only know the signs, but know where the nearest emergency treatment facilities are that have the capabilities and skill to respond quickly to all types of heart attacks, even a STEMI, one of the most severe types. A STEMI (or ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction) occurs when a coronary artery is almost entirely blocked. The best way to treat a STEMI heart attack is with a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) within 90 minutes of first receiving care from emergency medical personnel, but not all hospitals have this capability. Thankfully, many of our BayCare hospitals perform PCI procedures. If you observe the signs of a heart attack in yourself or someone else, call 911 immediately.
There are a variety of risk factors associated with heart disease, some that can be treated, changed, or controlled. The six major risk factors that you can have an impact on today include:
- High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
- Tobacco Use
- High Cholesterol
- Physical Inactivity
Though some risk factors cannot be treated or changed, it’s just as important to know them to help you and your doctor know your risk for a heart attack:
- Age: As women age, they are at an increased risk to die from a heart attack within a few weeks than men.
- Gender: Men are at increased risk for a heart attack than women and tend to have heart attacks at younger ages.
- Race: The risk factors that lead to heart attacks, like heart disease and high blood pressure, are higher among African-Americans and Mexican Americans than Caucasians.
- Heredity: Those who have family histories of heart disease are at increased risk of developing heart disease in their lifetime.
Learn More about Heart Disease
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