Dr. Baroudi of Coast Heart Institute says early detection is key to preventing heart disease. He's ready to answer your questions, so call or e-mail today!
Dr. Bassam R. Baroudi
Coast Heart Institute, PLLC
Phone: 228-863-5211 (Gulfport office)
228-467-5900 (Bay St. Louis office)
Each year, 1.1 million Americans experience a heart attack; 460 000 of them are fatal. Of those who die, almost half do so suddenly, before they can get to a hospital. Although a heart attack is a frightening event, if you learn the signs of a heart attack and what steps to take, you can save a life—perhaps even your own.
Who Is At Risk?
Many people think that heart attacks are a "man’s problem," yet heart disease is actually the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. In men, the risk for heart attack increases significantly after the age of 45. In women, heart attacks are more likely to occur in the years after menopause (usually, after the age of 50). However, younger men and women can also have heart attacks.
Besides age, factors that increase the risk for heart attack are:
If you have one or more of these factors, see your health care provider to find out how to reduce your risk of having a heart attack.
During a heart attack, a clot in the heart’s artery blocks the flow of blood to the heart. Heart muscle begins to die. This is technically called a "myocardial infarction," meaning "death of heart muscle." The more time that passes without treatment, the greater the damage. The part of the heart that dies during a heart attack cannot grow back or be repaired.
Fortunately, clot-busting drugs and other artery-opening treatments, such as angioplasty, can stop a heart attack in its tracks. Given soon after symptoms begin, these treatments can prevent or limit damage to the heart. The quicker they are started, the more good they will do and the greater the chances are of a full recovery. To be most effective, these treatments should be given within 1 hour of the start of heart attack symptoms. The benefit of opening the blocked artery decreases with each passing hour from symptom onset until treatment.
Learn the Signs
Many people think that a heart attack is sudden and intense, like the "Hollywood" heart attack depicted in the movies, where a person clutches his or her chest and falls over. The truth is that many heart attacks start as a mild discomfort in the center of the chest. Someone who feels such a warning may not be sure what is wrong. The discomfort (and other symptoms) may even come and go. Even people who have had a heart attack may not recognize the signs, because the next one can have entirely different symptoms. The warning signs of a heart attack are shown in the box below. Learn them, but also remember: Even if you're not sure it’s a heart attack, you should still check it out promptly.
Heart Attack Warning Signs
Timing is everything. People who experience the warning signs of a heart attack often deny how serious the situation is and take a wait-and-see approach. But time is very important, and anyone with these warning signs needs to get medical evaluation and treatment right away. Don't wait more than a few minutes—5 minutes at most—to call 9-1-1.
By calling 9-1-1 and taking an ambulance you will get to the hospital in the fastest way possible. There also are other benefits to calling 9-1-1:
Note: If you are having heart attack symptoms and for some reason cannot call 9-1-1, have someone else drive you at once to the hospital. Never drive yourself unless there is absolutely no other choice.
Questions You Will Likely Be Asked in the Emergency Room
When you get to the emergency department, you should be ready to answer, as best as you can, the following questions about your symptoms:
Your answers to these questions will help the doctor give you the best possible care and make you a partner in your care.
Tests to See if You Are Having A Heart Attack
Remember: Don't Delay
The best way to find out if symptoms are due to a heart attack is to get them checked at a hospital emergency department.
In a heart attack, every minute that passes causes more of the heart muscle to die. You can save a life—your own or someone else’s—by calling 9-1-1 right away.
Doctors and emergency personnel want anyone who may be having a heart attack to come to the emergency department without delay, even if the symptoms turn out to be a false alarm.
Make a plan now for what you would do if a heart attack should happen. It will save time and could help save a life. To plan ahead:
Sources: Joseph P. Ornato, MD; Mary M. Hand, MSPH, RN From the Department of Emergency Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical College of Virginia, Richmond (J.P.O.), and the National Heart Attack Alert Program, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD (M.M.H.).