Heart Attacks 101

It can be hard to know if a person is having a heart attack.

While some people have the classic chest pain and shortness of breath, heart attack symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for minor conditions, such as indigestion.

However, a heart attack requires immediate medical intervention, so if you or a loved one have any of the following symptoms, you may be having a heart attack — and need to get appropriate medical assistance as soon as possible:

  • Pain, pressure, or a feeling of “tightness” or “squeezing” in the chest, which may radiate to the arms, back, neck, or jaw
  • Nausea; feelings of heartburn, abdominal pain, or indigestion
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breaking into a cold sweat
  • Sudden fatigue

The sooner a person experiencing a heart attack gets medical assistance, the more likely they are to recover.

If someone arrives at an emergency room with a suspected heart attack, they will likely be treated immediately with oxygen therapy. Because the danger of a heart attack stems from death of heart muscle due to lack of oxygen, oxygen therapy can prevent permanent damage.

Nitroglycerin may be administered to help blood flow.

The patient will also be tested on an electrocardiogram (EKG), a machine which records heart activity. The results of the EKG will help the doctor determine what type of heart attack is being experienced.

Depending on the type of heart attack, the following medications may be used:

  • Thrombolytics, commonly known as “clot busters,” which will dissolve clots that are causing a blockage
  • Anticoagulants, informally known as “blood thinners,” which work to prevent further clotting
  • Beta-blockers, which reduce the heart’s workload
  • ACE-inhibitors, which relax the coronary arteries, making it easier for blood to flow to the heart

Depending on the underlying cause of the heart attack, the following procedures may also be performed:

  • Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI), in which a tube is inserted into the blocked artery and inflated, in order to widen the blocked artery
  • Stent insertion, in which a small metal tube is inserted in the artery to keep it open
  • Coronary Artery Bypass, a more complex surgery in which a blood vessel is taken from another part of the body and added to the blocked vessel, “bypassing” it in order to allow blood flow.

Regardless of the type of heart attack, cardiac rehabilitation is the way to ensure the best possible recovery. Atlantic Coast Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Lakewood, NJ, offers world-class cardiac rehabilitation, with its state-of-the-art equipment and SMART rehab program. SMART rehab includes seven-day-a-week therapy, which allows for faster recovery times. We are experts in the multidisciplinary approach to cardiac rehabilitation. Our doctors, nurses, therapists, counselors, dietitians, and nutritionists work together with the patient’s personal doctor to tailor a plan that will return them to their best possible health.

Read our reviews on senioradvisor.comcaring.com, and wellness.com to hear what people have to say about our cardiac rehab program.

Or better yet, come see for yourself: Contact us to schedule a tour by calling 732-364-7100, or by clicking here.

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