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Symptoms of heart attack Chest pain during a heart attack Does the heart ache during a heart attack? What should be taken into consideration after a heart attack? What should be taken into consideration after a heart attack?

Symptoms of heart attack may vary

Heart attack is the most common cause of death not only in our country, but also at global scale. Although efficient treatments have emerged, number of heart attack cases and death is ever increasingly climbing. However, a healthy lifestyle and health check-up at regular intervals may reduce the death secondary to heart attack by >50 percent.


Symptoms of heart attack

Principal symptoms of heart attack are chest pain, chest tightness, labored breathing, shortness of breath and rhythm disorder. These principal symptoms may be associated by sweating, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fainting and sudden-onset altered mental status. The pain usually lasts more than 20 minutes and it may refer to the jaw and the left arm. On the contrary to the common belief, diagnostic value of numbness in the left arm alone is low. Nausea, vomiting, hypotension and rhythm disorder are likely in heart attacks that involve the lower part of the heart. Cold sweating is also associated with chest pain. Other accompanying symptoms are dizziness, fainting, pallor and fatigue. Patients with medical history of heart attack should immediately present to the facility, where they are followed up, if they experience the symptoms that are similar to the signs of the first heart attack. Symptoms may be ambiguous in women. A detailed examination may help the risk of missing the diagnosis in women who present with superficial and atypical complaints.

Complaints may vary according to the occluded blood vessel, watershed zone of the blood vessel and the severity of the occlusion in the heart attack. The pain gradually worsens in a typical heart attack it usually lasts longer than 20 minutes. The risk of heart attack is low for the chest pain at same severity that lasts 24 hours, but a long-term pain is also likely in the heart attack that is caused by the partially occluded blood vessel, although severity of the pain fluctuates. In other words, a chest pain that lasts for several days and is induced by exercise may be the alarming sign of a heart attack. However, a heart attack does not last for days. The heart is usually damaged in 6 to 12 hours after the onset of the heart attack. The complaints that emerge beyond this interval are rather pains secondary to the damage, palpitation and shortness of breath.

Chest pain during a heart attack

Similar to all other physical pain, the chest pain is a clinical condition that leads to serious fear. It is a frightening condition, as it may be the herald of an underlying heart disease. Although chest pains mostly arise out of the musculoskeletal system, it is rational to visit a cardiology clinic regarding a heart disease for persons who are at risk.

The chest pains with muscular origin are caused by tiredness and stress. These pains vary enormously. They may emerge while you are at rest or doing exercise. They may develop within several seconds or the muscle pain may last for days. Transient, referring (to chest and back), local and sharp pains or pains that are induced by movement, deep breathing and cough do not usually point to a heart attack.

Chest pain secondary to gastric disorders and indigestion is also common. These pains usually refer from the umbilical zone to the chest. Gastrointestinal reflux should be considered for the chest pain that develop especially in the bed at night.

The chest pains with cardiac origin do not necessary arise out of a heart attack. They may also be caused by pericardium, heart valve disease and inflammatory diseases of myocardium.

Sudden-onset occlusion of coronary arteries may lead to a heart attack, also called myocardial infarction. In this case, the chest pain is usually severe, long-standing and compressive. It may refer to the left arm, the neck and the jaw. The pain may be associated with nausea, vomiting, cold sweating, gradually worsening anxiety, dizziness, shortness of breath and fatigue.

The chest pains that are caused by heart attack may refer to the abdomen, jaw, back and arms. The most common symptom is numbness or abnormally difficult motion in the left arm. However, heart attacks characterized by numbness and pain in the arm alone are very rare. The numbness in the arm is usually accompanied by chest pain or chest tightness and shortness of breath. Referral to the right arm is very rare. The heart points to the right side of the chest cavity in one of every 10 thousand person in the population. The chest pain shall rather refer to the right arm in such people.

Does the heart ache during a heart attack?

The heart is an organ that is located inside the chest cavity. The pains originating from visceral organs are usually manifested as referred pain. In other words, the pain is, in fact, originating from the chest zone, when a person complains of a heart ache. The pain may vary especially in elderly people, women and diabetics. The heart attack may be manifested by shoulder and arm pain, jaw pain and abdominal pain rather than a chest pain. Abdominal pain or nausea-vomiting may be the sole sign in the heart attacks that involve the lower part of the heart. The risk of heart attack should necessarily be screened with electrocardiography in these people.

What should be taken into consideration after a heart attack?

The principal treatment of a heart attack includes angiography, balloon dilatation and stent implantation as soon as possible after the onset. Many patients get healthy again, after a stent is implanted, but they usually ignore the regular follow-up. However, stent implantation does not definitely eliminate the condition. Stents are at risk of re-stenosis especially within the first year. The risk of re-stenosis in the first year is 10 percent for the highest-quality stents even if the optimal treatment is ensured and a healthy lifestyle is maintained. If these factors are ignored, the risk may increase up to 50 percent. In other words, a new episode of heart attack may develop even if a stent is implanted.

Therefore, patients with a stent should pay attention to following issues to avoid recurrence of the disease.

  • Medications should be taken regularly. Significant number of drugs is prescribed for patients especially after the post-implantation period; and sometimes, these patients may think that they take too many medicines and do not comply with the treatment. If blood thinners are not properly used especially in the early period, an early re-stenosis is likely.
  • Smoking should be avoided. Since complaints alleviate and disappear after a stent is implanted, patients may continue smoking. Smoking increases the risk of stenosis in the stent by two folds.
  • Diabetes mellitus should be regulated well. Re-stenosis of stents is more likely in diabetics. For patients with history of stent implantation, blood glucose should be closely monitored and necessary medication treatment should be planned.
  • Regulation of blood pressure affects the long-term patency of the stent. For patients with poorly regulated blood pressure, the risk of re-stenosis especially at either ends of the stent is high. Therefore, salt-poor diet and proper use of antihypertensive agents are important.
  • It is necessary to avoid fat-rich foods. The adverse effect of the high blood cholesterol concentration on the stent is already demonstrated. Patients with history of stent implantation should avoid fatty foods, saturated fat and fried foods. Concentration of LDL (bad cholesterol) below 70 favors the patency of the stent.
  • Regular exercise protects the vascular structure and ensures the long-term patency of the stent. Although patients fear that exercise may cause dislocation of the stent, it has no rational ground.

What should be taken into consideration after a heart attack?

The principal treatment of a heart attack includes angiography, balloon dilatation and stent implantation as soon as possible after the onset. Many patients get healthy again, after a stent is implanted, but they usually ignore the regular follow-up. However, stent implantation does not definitely eliminate the condition. Stents are at risk of re-stenosis especially within the first year. The risk of re-stenosis in the first year is 10 percent for the highest-quality stents even if the optimal treatment is ensured and a healthy lifestyle is maintained. If these factors are ignored, the risk may increase up to 50 percent. In other words, a new episode of heart attack may develop even if a stent is implanted.

Therefore, patients with a stent should pay attention to following issues to avoid recurrence of the disease.

  • Medications should be taken regularly. Significant number of drugs is prescribed for patients especially after the post-implantation period; and sometimes, these patients may think that they take too many medicines and do not comply with the treatment. If blood thinners are not properly used especially in the early period, an early re-stenosis is likely.
  • Smoking should be avoided. Since complaints alleviate and disappear after a stent is implanted, patients may continue smoking. Smoking increases the risk of stenosis in the stent by two folds.
  • Diabetes mellitus should be regulated well. Re-stenosis of stents is more likely in diabetics. For patients with history of stent implantation, blood glucose should be closely monitored and necessary medication treatment should be planned.
  • Regulation of blood pressure affects the long-term patency of the stent. For patients with poorly regulated blood pressure, the risk of re-stenosis especially at either ends of the stent is high. Therefore, salt-poor diet and proper use of antihypertensive agents are important.
  • It is necessary to avoid fat-rich foods. The adverse effect of the high blood cholesterol concentration on the stent is already demonstrated. Patients with history of stent implantation should avoid fatty foods, saturated fat and fried foods. Concentration of LDL (bad cholesterol) below 70 favors the patency of the stent.
  • Regular exercise protects the vascular structure and ensures the long-term patency of the stent. Although patients fear that exercise may cause dislocation of the stent, it has no rational ground.