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Heart Attack Signs and Risk Factors

<span style="font-size: small;"><b><span style="font-size: small;">What is a Heart Attack and what are the&nbsp;signs and risk factors?</span><br></b></span>
What is a Heart Attack, and what are the signs and risk factors?
A heart attack (also called myocardial infarction) is when portion of the heart muscle is damaged or dies because it isn't receiving oxygen. Oxygen is carried to the heart by the arteries (blood vessels). Most heart attacks are caused by a blockage in these arteries. Usually the blockage is caused by atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of fatty deposits (called plaque) inside the artery. This buildup is like the gunk that builds up in a drainpipe and slows the flow of water.

Heart attacks can also be caused by a blood clot that gets stuck in a narrow part of an artery to the heart. Clots are more likely to form where atherosclerosis has made an artery more narrow.

In Matters of the Heart, Men and Women Are Very Different

It�s not always easy to tell if you or someone else is having a heart attack. Some people grab their chest due to extreme pain, while others may have milder, more subtle pain or symptoms. If heart- attack warning signs occur, call 9-1-1 or get to the nearest emergency room. Or go to the Chest Pain Center at St. Vincent, the first and only accredited Chest Pain Center in Arkansas.

Common Heart Attack Warning Signs for Men:

� Feeling of pain in the chest that may spread to the arm, neck, teeth, jaw or back.

� Tightness, burning, squeezing or heaviness in the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back

� Chest discomfort with fainting, lightheadedness, nausea, shortness of breath or sweating

Other Warning Signs of a Heart Attack:

� Unusual chest, abdominal or stomach pain

� Dizziness, nausea, trouble breathing, jaw or arm pain without chest pain

� Fast or uneven heartbeat or pulse

� Sweating for no reason, pale, gray or clammy skin

� Any new or worsening chest pain of increased length or frequency

Women may have different heart attack symptoms than men. These symptoms may be disregarded as indigestion or attributed to an illness such as the flu. If these warning signs occur, call 9-1-1 or get to the nearest emergency room. Or go to the Chest Pain Center at St. Vincent, the first and only accredited Chest Pain Center in Arkansas.
Common Heart Attack Warning Signs for Women:

� An uneasy feeling in the chest

� Unexplained or extreme anxiety

� Unusual fatigue or weakness

� Fluttering heartbeat

� Severe indigestion that doesn�t go away with antacid

Other Warning Signs of a Heart Attack:

� Feeling of pain in the chest that may spread to the arm, neck, teeth, jaw or back

� Tightness, burning, squeezing or heaviness in the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back

� Chest discomfort with fainting, lightheadedness, nausea, shortness of breath or sweating

Unusual chest, abdominal or stomach pain

� Dizziness, nausea, trouble breathing, jaw or arm pain without chest pain

� Fast or uneven heartbeat or pulse

� Sweating for no reason, pale, gray or clammy skin

� Any new or worsening chest pain of increased length or frequency

What are the risk factors for a heart attack?

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Increasing age--83% of people who die from heart disease are 65 years of age or older
  • High cholesterol level
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of heart attack
  • Race--African Americans, Mexican Americans, Native Americans and Native Hawaiians are at greater risk.
  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress
  • Obesity
  • Sex--More males have heart attacks, although heart disease is the leading cause of death for American women.
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