Heart Attack
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What is a Heart Attack?
     Symptoms of a Possible Heart Attack
     Female Heart Attacks
    
     CDC's Women and Heart Disease Fact Sheet
          Women Twice as Likely to Die of Most Serious Type of Heart Attack
          Delays in Emergency Room Care Raise Heart Attack Risks for Women
          Aspirin Benefit Differs for Men, Women
          Woman Describes Her Heart Attack
     Screening Tests That Can Save Your Life

What is a Heart Attack?

A heart attack or acute myocardial infarction (MI) occurs when one of the arteries that supplies the heart muscle becomes blocked.  Blockage may be caused by spasm of the artery or by atherosclerosis with acute clot formation.  The blockage results in damaged tissue and a permanent loss of contraction of this portion of the heart muscle.

WebMD has an excellent slideshow that provides a Visual Guide to Heart Disease. It explains what heart disease is, what a heart attack is, its symptoms in both men and women, signs of coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy, heart failure, congenital heart defect, the tests to determine various heart conditions, and various treatments, medications, etc.


Symptoms of a Possible Heart Attack

While some heart attacks are sudden and severe, according to the American Heart Association, most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain and discomfort. The danger is that you may not know what is wrong and may wait too long.

  •  Discomfort or heaviness in the center of the chest that lasts several minutes, or that goes away and returns it can feel like an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  •  Pain or discomfort radiating to one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw (like a toothache) or stomach.   
  •  Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.    
  •  Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, vomiting, dizziness or lightheadedness.
  •  Rapid or irregular heartbeats or extreme weakness.
  •  Fullness, indigestion or choking feeling (may feel like heartburn).

The most common heart attack symptom for men is chest pain or discomfort, but women are more likely to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

If you or someone you're with has chest discomfort, especially if experiencing one or more of the other signs, DO NOT wait longer than a few minutes (no more than 5 minutes) before calling 9-1-1 and/or getting to a hospital right away. If it is you, DO NOT DRIVE YOURSELF unless you have no other option.

Calling 9-1-1 is usually the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment since emergency medical services (EMS) staff can begin treatment as soon they arrive, and they are equipped and trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. You'll also get faster treatment at the hospital when you arrive by ambulance.

The most common heart attack symptom for men is chest pain or discomfort, but women are more likely to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, and back or jaw pain.


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