Heart Attack Signs, Symptoms & Care
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heart attacks are a frightening reality that nearly 735,000 Americans experience each year. Of these, 525,000 are first-time heart attacks, while the remaining 210,000 are repeat heart attacks.
At St. Vincent’s, we’re committed to not only helping you recover from a heart attack, but also in helping you prevent heart attacks before they occur.
Recognize Signs & Symptoms
One of the most important things to remember about heart attacks is that symptoms vary from person to person. Some people may have intense symptoms while others have silent heart attacks, which are heart attacks that occur with very mild or without any symptoms. However, here are some critical signs you should look out for:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Upper body discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
- Unusual fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
- Light-headedness or sudden dizziness
If you or a loved one begins experiencing any of these symptoms, it is imperative that you call 911 immediately. The quicker your reaction, the better your chances of recovery.
Treating Heart Attacks
When you arrive at St. Vincent’s with a heart attack, our cardiology team immediately springs into action. In most cases, you will have a stent placed in your heart to unblock the artery that has caused the heart attack.
To do this, your doctor inserts a long, thin catheter through an artery in your leg or groin. Next, the catheter is guided to the blockage in your heart. The catheter is equipped with a special balloon that, once in position, is briefly inflated to open the blocked coronary artery. A metal mesh stent is typically inserted to keep the artery open long term.
Swift Heart Attack Response
When a heart attack strikes, time matters tremendously. Your chances of a full recovery decrease with every minute that passes.
The Door to Balloon (D2B) program, introduced by the American College of Cardiology, encourages hospitals to adopt strategies designed to reduce the amount of time that passes between your arrival at St. Vincent’s and the opening of your heart’s blocked artery with an angioplasty balloon.
Speed is St. Vincent's specialty. Our average D2B time is approximately 60 minutes, coming in at half an hour faster than the national average of 90 minutes.
After a heart attack, there are critical steps you’ll have to take to return to full strength. Our cardiac rehab unit and heart failure program equip you with the resources you need to make a full recovery.