Coronary Artery Disease & Heart Attacks

Renowned Expertise in Saving Lives of Heart Attack Patients

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States. Each year, more than a million Americans suffer from a heart attack and many die before they reach a hospital.

The heart specialists at University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute provide life-saving heart attack treatment. We use advanced techniques to relieve pain, preserve the function of the heart muscle and prevent death.

A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, occurs when one or more regions of the heart muscle face a severe or prolonged lack of oxygen. Blocked blood flow to the heart muscle is the cause of this oxygen deprivation. Without oxygen, the cells of the heart experience serious damage and begin to die.

Comprehensive Care During and After a Heart Attack

During a heart attack, our heart and vascular specialists will continually monitor your heart and may perform one of the following heart attack treatments:

  • Antiplatelet therapy: Antiplatelet therapy prevents further blood clots.
  • Cardiac medications: Cardiac medications are intended to prevent arrhythmias, abnormal heart rhythms, promote blood flow, prevent blood clotting and reduce heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Fibrinolytic therapy: Fibrinolytic therapy includes medication that dissolves the blockage and restores blood flow to your heart.
  • Oxygen therapy: Oxygen therapy improves oxygen flow to your heart.
  • Pain medication: Pain medication can reduce your pain and decrease how hard your heart has to work and how much oxygen it needs.

After we have confirmed a heart attack and effectively stabilized you, we may conduct a procedure to restore blood flow. A minimally invasive procedure known as angioplasty may be necessary to open blocked arteries.

In the event surgery is needed, coronary artery bypass surgery may be performed to open arteries and restore blood supply to your heart.

Understanding Your Heart Attack Risk

There are some heart attack risk factors that are hereditary. These risk factors include a family history of diabetes, a family history of heart disease and inherited hypertension, among others.

Fortunately, most risk factors are acquired and can be controlled through lifestyle changes, including:

Atherosclerosis or a buildup of plaque in the arteries can be inherited or acquired and can also lead to a heart attack. This condition obstructs the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart and reduces blood flow to the rest of the body.

Knowing the Signs of a Heart Attack

People often dismiss heart attack warning signs, such as chest pain, or mistake heart attack symptoms for heartburn or a pulled muscle. While chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack, there are other symptoms which include:

  • Anxiety
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Pain traveling down one or both arms
  • Rapid or irregular pulse
  • Unusual fatigue and/or light-headedness

Differences in Women for Heart Disease

Women often experience signs and symptoms of heart disease that are different from men. This is because smaller arteries may be blocked in women whereas men often have blockages in the main arteries.

Women may have heart attack symptoms that include:

  • Light-headedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
  • Lower chest discomfort or back pain
  • Pressure, fullness, squeezing pain in the center of the chest, spreading to the neck, shoulder or jaw
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Upper abdominal pressure or discomfort

Don’t delay. If you experience any heart attack symptoms, you should call 9-1-1 and seek medical attention immediately. The sooner you receive treatment, the better your chances of a positive outcome.

Cardiac Rehabilitation and Heart Attack Prevention

To help you recover from a heart attack and prevent another one, we will recommend our comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation services. Our cardiac rehabilitation program uses a three-phase approach that can help you improve your health and overall well-being.

Through education, counseling and exercise training, you can gain a thorough understanding of your heart condition, reduce your risk for future problems and learn how to exercise safely and strengthen your muscles.

For More Information about Heart Disease

If you are experiencing any heart attack symptoms, call 9-1-1 and seek medical attention immediately. If you have a history of heart disease and would like an evaluation by our cardiac specialists at University Hospitals, contact one of our board-certified cardiologists at a location near you.