Heart Attack

According to the American Heart Association, nearly 700,000 people each year experience a heart attack and almost half of these people will die from it. However, a person’s chances of surviving a heart attack are increased if emergency treatment is immediately administered.

At SSM Health Heart & Vascular Care, we have more specialists in more locations caring for hearts like yours. Our team includes leading cardiologists, electrophysiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons – all providing the most inpatient heart care in the area.

Causes of a Heart Attack

A heart attack (myocardial infarction or MI) occurs when the blood supply to the heart is restricted or cut off. During a heart attack, the heart muscle begins to die due to lack of blood flow to it.

Recognizing the Signs & Symptoms of a Heart Attack

During a heart attack, symptoms last 30 minutes or longer and cannot be relieved by rest or oral medications. At the onset, symptoms can mimic a mild discomfort that progresses to significant pain. Common symptoms include:

  • Discomfort
  • Pressure
  • Heaviness
  • Pain in the chest, arm or below the breast bone
  • Fullness, indigestion or choking feeling (may feel like heartburn)
  • Sweating
  • Nausea, vomiting or dizziness
  • Extreme weakness
  • Anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid or irregular heart beats

The American Heart Association says that, like men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But, women are more likely to experience some of the more uncommon symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, or nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

What You Can Do In a Heart Attack Emergency

If you or a loved one are experiencing chest pains or heart attack symptoms, call 911 immediately. A delay in receiving appropriate medical attention could be fatal. When you call, the 911 operator may advise you to take aspirin, if you are not allergic. Aspirin can help by inhibiting clots that further restrict blood flow to your heart. Take the ambulance to the nearest emergency room and let the onsite professionals begin treating you as quickly as possible.

Your SSM Health physician can help you identify ways to maintain a healthy heart after a heart attack. Part of this plan will include staying diligent about routine medical visits with your doctor and learning more about prevention. Contact your primary care provider today to start maintaining your heart health.

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