Heart Attack symptoms and emergency response

Senior man suffering a heart attack - via Adobe Stock

When it comes to heart attacks, every second counts.

As a cardiologist who commonly manages patients that suffer heart attacks, I can’t stress enough the importance of recognising the symptoms and getting help as soon as possible. Knowing what to look for can save your life or the life of a loved one.

This article refers to ‘you’ being the person suffering the symptoms and requiring the treatment, but it is equally valuable for individuals looking to care for their loved ones.

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked, usually by a blood clot. The longer the blockage persists, the more damage is done to the heart muscle. That’s why it’s crucial to seek emergency care as soon as possible.

The most common symptoms of a heart attack are:

  1. Chest pain or discomfort: This is the most common symptom of a heart attack. The pain can be dull, heavy, or sharp, and it usually lasts more than a few minutes. It may also feel like pressure or tightness in the chest.
  2. Upper body pain or discomfort: This can include pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath: This can occur with or without chest discomfort.
  4. Nausea or vomiting: These symptoms may occur during a heart attack, especially in women.
  5. Sweating: This can occur suddenly and may be accompanied by dizziness or lightheadedness.

If these symptoms occur at rest and last more than 5 minutes, despite resting, then this may suggest you are having a heart attack.

What should I do if I think I’m having a heart attack?

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call the emergency services immediately. Don’t wait to see if the symptoms go away on their own.

What treatment will I receive?

Emergency response teams are well-versed in providing emergency care and treatment for patients who are having heart attacks. This may include medications to relieve pain, improve blood flow, and prevent blood clots from forming. You may also receive oxygen therapy or other treatments to stabilise your condition.

If you are taken to a hospital, you will undergo an assessment by a team of medical professionals, including a cardiologist. The team will perform various tests to determine the extent of the damage to your heart and decide on the best course of treatment.

Treatment for a heart attack may include medication to reduce the risk of blood clots, angioplasty to unblock arteries, or bypass surgery to reroute blood around blocked vessels.

Once the immediate danger has passed, you will be monitored closely by the medical team to ensure that your heart is functioning properly and that you are receiving the appropriate medication and therapy to aid in your recovery. You may also receive guidance on lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, to help prevent future heart attacks.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s experience will be different, and recovery times can vary. However, with the right treatment and support, many people are able to make a full recovery and return to their normal activities.

Time is of the essence!

Remember, time is critical when it comes to heart attacks. Don’t hesitate to seek help if you suspect a heart attack. It could save your life.

If you experience any symptoms of a heart attack, call 999 immediately and seek emergency medical attention.