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Heart & Vascular Center

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Risk Factors & Signs of a Heart Attack

Coronary heart disease is the No.1 cause of death in the United States. The faster a heart attack is treated the less damage to the heart, and the better the outcome of your treatments. Often people are not sure what's wrong and simply dismiss the chest pain as heartburn or a pulled muscle. The unfortunate conclusion is that too many people wait too long before getting help. We want you to recognize the early symptoms of a heart attack.

What are the risk factors of a Heart Attack

  • Inactive Life Style
  • Family History of a Heart Attack or Stroke
  • Tobacco Use
  • High Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Stress

What is a Heart Attack?

A heart attack occurs, in most cases, when a vessel supplying the heart muscle with blood and oxygen becomes completely blocked. The vessel has become narrowed by a slow buildup of fatty deposits, made mostly of cholesterol. When a clot occurs in this narrowed vessel, it completely blocks the supply of blood to the heart muscle. That part of the muscle will begin to die if the individual does not immediately seek medical attention.

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath. Occurring with or before chest discomfort.
  • Other symptoms. May include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness. Treatments are most effective when they occur in the early stages of chest pain.

Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

  • Pressure, fullness, squeezing pain in the center of the chest, spreading to the neck, shoulder or jaw pain
  • Chest discomfort with light-headedness, fainting, sweating, nausea, or shortness of breath
  • Upper abdominal pressure or discomfort
  • Lower chest discomfort
  • Back Pain
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Unusual shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
If you have chest pain or other heart attack symptoms, call 9-1-1 and seek medical attention immediately.
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