Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)

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If you have a medical emergency, please call 9-1-1.

Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction) is a Medical Emergency

If you think you may be experiencing a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately so that treatment can start as soon as possible. Do not drive yourself or wait for a ride from a friend or family member. Have an ambulance take you to a hospital that is a cardiac receiving center right away.

Designated Cardiac Receiving Centers

About Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)

High blood pressure, elevated cholesterol or smoking can damage the inner lining of arteries in the body. This leads to a build up of fatty substances and calcium called plaque. This may slow the flow of blood to the heart muscle and begin coronary artery disease or peripheral vascular disease. If this buildup continues, blood flow to the heart muscle is severely decreased, and less oxygen is brought to the heart. This lack of oxygen to the heart muscle may cause a range of sensations called angina: burning, numbness, pressure to severe pain in the chest, arms, jaw, throat or upper back.

A heart attack (myocardial infarction) may occur if the blood flow is blocked by a blood clot in the narrowed artery. Without blood flow carrying oxygen, the heart muscle (myocardium) in the area becomes permanently damaged.

Symptoms

Heart attack signs or symptoms may include:

  • Chest discomfort: Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath: May occur with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs: These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Signs/symptoms compiled from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

Additional heart attack signs or symptoms common in women may include:

Although chest pain is the most common symptom of a women's heart attack, women often experience vague chest discomfort frequently described as pressure, burning, tightness or an ache.

  • Heart palpitations or abnormally weak and/or rapid pulse.
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting or a sick stomach.
  • Gray facial color.
  • Vomiting.
  • Indigestion.
  • Weakness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Dizziness.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Shoulder blade pain.
  • Change in migraine pattern, migraine with aura.

Risk Factors & Prevention

According to the American Heart Association, heart attack prevention should begin by age 20. To prevent cardiovascular disease monitoring your risk factors is key. If you are over the age of 40 or have multiple risk factors, it's important to establish a cardiovascular prevention plan. A first-time heart attack or stroke can be fatal, so prevention is critical to improve your lifelong health and well being.

Protect Yourself against Cardiovascular Disease, Stroke and Heart Attack
Take three simple steps to reduce the controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke including:

  1. Avoid Tobacco
  2. Be More Active
  3. Choose Good Nutrition

Source: American Heart Association

Make an Appointment for a Heart & Vascular Screenings
MemorialCare provides low-cost, heart & vascular screenings to assess your personal risk factors to help you prevent cardiovascular disease. 

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