Heart Attack Early Treatment

Early Treatment Important for Heart Attacks
Chest pain is one of the most common symptoms of a heart attack and one of the most common reasons people visit the emergency room. Each year more than one million Americans have a heart attack, and more than one-third of those heart attacks are fatal. Emergency room physicians will tell you that for a heart attack to be treated effectively, the treatments must start within one hour from when the symptoms start.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack
When it comes to heart attacks, knowing the symptoms and getting prompt medical attention can make a huge difference in the outcome. Here are the symptoms of a heart attack:

  • Chest pain or discomfort. The pain is usually in the center of the chest and may last for a few minutes or come and go. People describe the feeling as uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper body. Other places that may hurt include one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or even stomach.
  • Shortness of breath. This may accompany the chest pain or begin before the pain starts.
  • Other symptoms may include a cold sweat, nausea and fainting or feeling light-headed.
    Women are more likely to experience less common symptoms such as feeling short of breath, nausea or vomiting and pain in the back and jaw.

If you or someone you know has any symptoms of a heart attack, it’s very important that you seek immediate emergency treatment. Call 9-1-1 for emergency care instead of driving to the hospital in the midst of a heart attack.

Rapid Treatment Important
The main heart attack treatments are thrombolytic or clot-busting drugs, aspirin, nitrates and beta blockers. Aspirin is now given to all patients who arrive at the hospital with a suspected heart attack because it helps thin the blood and reduce the size of the clot blocking one of the blood vessels in the heart.

There are a number of special procedures available that doctors can use to treat heart attacks. Coronary angioplasty uses a very small catheter that is threaded through an artery (usually from the groin area) into the narrowed artery. At the end of the catheter is a tiny balloon that is opened and closed in the narrowed area to stretch it out. Doctors also can insert a tiny mesh tube called a stent to help keep the artery open.

For blocked arteries, doctors may need to perform a bypass. In a coronary artery bypass graft operation, doctors take a healthy section of artery (usually from the leg) and use it to route around the blockage.

Improving Heart Attack Care
Hilton Head Heart’s Chest Pain Center has been accredited by the Society of Chest Pain Centers, which means that Hilton Head Heart meets or exceeds quality-of-care measures associated with diagnosing and treating heart attacks. As an Accredited Chest Pain Center, Hilton Head Heart has demonstrated its commitment to providing quality cardiac care and has the resources available to rapidly diagnose and treat patients.

A study published in the July 2008 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology found that hospitals accredited by the Society of Chest Pain Centers perform better on the heart attack measures established by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as compared to non-accredited facilities. These core measures represent best practices in the care for heart attacks.