- Heart Attack
- 4 Signs
- Mini Heart Attack
What happens when you have a heart attack?
A heart attack occurs when the blood vessel that supplies blood to your heart (coronary artery) gets blocked – partially or completely. The lack of blood supply means the heart does not get enough oxygen or nutrients. When you experience a heart attack, the signs and symptoms include:
- Chest discomfort in the form of pressure, heaviness, tightness, squeezing, or pain
- Chest pain that goes into your back, jaw, throat, or arm
- Fullness in the stomach or indigestion (it may feel like heartburn)
- Shortness of breath
- Stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting
- Severe weakness
- Fast and/or irregular heart rate
What are the four signs of an impending heart attack?
Some heart attacks are sudden and severe. But most begin slowly with chest discomfort as the first sign. You need to pay attention if you experience the following warning signs of a heart attack. These signs are as suggested by the American Heart Association (AHA):
- Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes.
- Sometimes, you may have chest discomfort that goes away and then returns. You may feel uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
Discomfort in other areas of the upper body.
- You feel pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, and jaw. You may also get a stomachache.
Shortness of breath.
- You may suffer from shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
Other possible signs include
What does a mini heart attack feel like?
You must have often heard of other people having something called a “mini heart attack” or mild heart attack. Although there is no such term as a “mini” heart attack in the medical dictionary, it can be compared with a mild heart attack or a silent heart attack.
Mild heart attack
- You get a mild heart attack when there is a partial block in your coronary artery that causes mild signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
- If your doctor tells you that you have had a mild heart attack, it probably means your heart is not damaged much and is working properly.
Silent heart attack
- Sometimes, you may not even know that you have suffered a heart attack. Such a heart attack is usually said to be a silent heart attack. Your doctor accidentally may discover a past attack on your routine ECG (electrocardiogram) when you go for your regular check-up.
- While in other instances, a heart problem or another heart attack could make the doctor suspect that you may have had a silent heart attack. This may similarly show up in your ECG when you visit your doctor for a different heart problem.
- Such a heart attack might have occurred months or years before without you even knowing about it.
- A silent heart attack is usually lacking the typical signs and symptoms of a heart attack, such as shortness of breath. Symptoms of a heart attack like mild pain in the throat or chest can be confused with hyperacidity, indigestion, and heartburn.
What are the tests to diagnose a heart attack?
ECG: An ECG is one of the most common tests. It allows a doctor to get a sense of how severe your heart attack was and which part of your heart has been damaged.
Blood tests: Presence/level of various enzymes in your blood like creatine phosphokinase (CPK), CPK-MB and troponin can indicate the extent of damage to your cardiac muscle.
Echocardiography: This test is done during and after the heart attack to check if the heart attack has damaged your heart valves and determine the pumping capacity of your heart.
Cardiac catheterization: You may be asked to go urgently for angiography, which is done with the help of a surgical procedure known as cardiac catheterization. This will let the cardiac surgeon know the location of the block in the coronary artery to help him decide the most appropriate treatment for your heart attack.
IMAGESBrowse through our medical image collection to see illustrations of human anatomy and physiology See Images
How is a heart attack treated?
Specific medicines may be taken (within one or two hours from the start of your heart attack) to limit heart damage.
Medicinal drugs used during a heart attack may include:
If medications fail to improve the signs and symptoms of heart attack, either of the following cardiac surgeries will be planned by the cardiac surgeon.
Angioplasty: A procedure to open the narrowed or blocked arteries supplying blood to the heart. This can be done immediately after angiography on the same day.
Bypass surgery (coronary artery bypass graft): A procedure in which the surgeon takes blood vessels taken from another area of your body and uses them to bypass the blocked/narrowed arteries to enable re-supply of blood to the affected areas of the heart. This surgery is usually planned a few days after a heart attack.
Latest Heart News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
What Is a ‘Mild Heart Attack’ (and Is It a Big Deal, or Not)? Available at: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-is-a-mild-heart-attack-and-is-it-a-big-deal-or-not/
Never Ignore These 11 Heart Symptoms. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/features/never-ignore-symptoms#1
Heart Attack. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/heart-disease-heart-attacks#1
Warning Signs of a Heart Attack. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/warning-signs-of-a-heart-attack
The danger of “silent” heart attacks. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-danger-of-silent-heart-attacks
Top Four Signs of an Impending Heart Attack Related Articles
What Is the Difference Between Electrocardiogram and Electrocardiograph?An electrocardiogram or electrocardiograph (ECG or EKG) are the same thing. An EKG is a test that examines the heart function by measuring the electrical activity of the heart. Based on the electrocardiogram, the doctor determines whether the electrical activity of the heart is normal or irregular, aiding in diagnosis of various heart problems.
Heart AttackA heart attack happens when a blood clot completely obstructs a coronary artery supplying blood to the heart muscle. A heart attack can cause chest pain, heart failure, and electrical instability of the heart.
Heart Attacks in WomenHeart disease, particularly coronary artery disease is the leading cause of heart attacks. Women are more likely to die from a heart attack than men. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, and high triglycerides are contributors to heart disease. Some of the common symptoms of a heart attack in women include chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, feeling faint or woozy, and more. Heart disease can be prevented by lifestyle changes and controlling high blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and diseases such as diabetes.
Heart Attack Pathology: Photo EssayA heart attack is a layperson's term for a sudden blockage of a coronary artery. This photo essay includes graphics, pictures, and illustrations of diseased heart tissue and the mechanisms that lead to coronary artery disease, and possible heart attack. A coronary artery occlusion may be fatal, but most patients survive it. Death can occur when the occlusion leads to an abnormal heartbeat (severe arrhythmia) or death of heart muscle (extensive myocardial infarction).
Heart Attack Symptoms and Early Warning Signs
Recognizing heart attack symptoms and signs can help save your life or that of someone you love. Some heart attack symptoms, including left arm pain and chest pain, are well known but other, more nonspecific symptoms may be associated with a heart attack. Nausea, vomiting, malaise, indigestion, sweating, shortness of breath, and fatigue may signal a heart attack. Heart attack symptoms and signs in women may differ from those in men.
Heart Attack Treatment
A heart attack involves damage or death of part of the heart muscle due to a blood clot. The aim of heart attack treatment is to prevent or stop this damage to the heart muscle. Heart attack treatments included medications, procedures, and surgeries to protect the heart muscle against injury.
Heart Attack vs. Heartburn (Differences between Symptoms and Signs)
Heartburn is a symptom of another disease or medical problem and can be described as a feeling of burning in the chest accompanied by symptoms of nausea, vomiting, or a sour taste or food stuck in the back of the throat.
Heart attack occurs when an artery in the heart is completely blocked by a blood clot, which causes that portion of heart muscle to die. Heart attack also has symptoms of chest pain, nausea, and vomiting, however, other warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack are unusual weakness or fatigue, and persistent and/or increased severity of symptoms over a few minutes. Heart attack is a life threatening emergency.
If you think you or someone you are with is having a heart attack, call 911 immediately for urgent medical treatment. It may save your life.
Heart Attack vs. Stroke Symptoms, Differences, and Similarities
Heart attack usually is caused by a clot that stops blood flow supplying oxygen to an area of heart muscle, which results in heart muscle death. Stroke or "brain attack" is caused by a loss of blood supply to the brain (usually a blood clot) or by hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding within the brain), which results in brain tissue death. Both heart attack and stroke usually come on suddenly, produce similar symptoms, can be disabling, and can be fatal.
The classic symptoms and warning signs of heart attack are different.
Classic heart attack warning signs are chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, pain that radiates to the shoulders, back, arms, belly, jaw, or teeth, sweating, fainting, and nausea and vomiting. Moreover, woman having a heart attack may have additional symptoms like abdominal pain or discomfort, dizziness, clammy skin, and moderate to severe fatigue.
The classic symptoms and warning signs that a person is having a stroke are confusion or loss of consciousness, sudden severe headache, speech problems, problems seeing out of one or both eyes, and numbness or weakness of only one side of the body. Moreover, a woman having a stroke may have additional warning symptom and signs like shortness of breath, disorientation, agitation, behavioral changes, weakness, nausea, vomiting, seizures, and hiccups.
Recognition of stroke symptoms is vital for emergency treatment. The acronym "FAST" stands for recognition of Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, and a Time for action.
If you experience the symptoms heart attack or stroke (FAST) or see them develop in another person, then contact 911 immediately.
Heart Disease SlideshowHeart disease prevention includes controlling risk factors like diet, exercise, and stress. Heart disease symptoms in women may differ from men. Use a heart disease risk calculator to determine your heart attack risk.
Heart SymptomsHeart attacks symptoms vary greatly for men and women, from anxiety and fatigue to nausea and sweating. Learn the warning signs of a heart attack and know the symptoms that may require an immediate trip to the hospital.
How Long Can You Live With an Implanted Defibrillator?An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is an electronic device that tracks the heart rate and restores a normal rhythm, if required. It is first-line treatment for patients who are at risk of sudden cardiac death. ICD is useful in reducing the death rate amongst patients suffering from cardiac arrest, heart failure, reduced ejection fraction (reduced amount of blood pumped out of heart’s chambers), specific structural heart diseases. An ICD detects and corrects the abnormal rhythm of the heart.
What Is an Intra-Aortic Balloon Pump Used For?Intra-aortic balloon counterpulsation or intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) is a type of therapeutic device which helps the heart to pump more blood. Attached to the tip of the IABP catheter, is a long balloon. This is called an intra-aortic balloon or IAB. The other end of the catheter is attached to a machine which inflates and deflates the balloon in sync with the heartbeat.