Internal Medicine & Family Medicine located in Fairfax, VA, South Riding, VA & Merrifield, VA
Heart attacks are one of the most commonly discussed and well-known medical emergencies. They are a very serious and life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical care. As such, knowing how to prevent and deal with a heart attack is very important, especially as you age. The team of doctors and nurse practitioners at Prima Medicine in Fairfax and South Riding, Virginia, provide their patients with knowledgeable and timely care to help prevent heart attacks and care for their patients after a heart attack has occurred. Call or go online today to schedule your appointment to learn more.
Heart Attack Q & A
What is a heart attack?
Just like the rest of your body, your heart muscle requires a constant supply of oxygen to continue functioning. Normally, this is not a problem. However, in patients that develop fatty plaque buildups on their coronary arteries, called coronary heart disease, this oxygen delivery system can malfunction.
A blood clot can form in the artery, cutting off blood and oxygen supply to the portion of the heart that the artery serves. This oxygen-deprived portion of the heart dies, forming scar tissue in place of healthy and functional tissue. This process is what is called a heart attack.
What are the symptoms of a heart attack?
Since a heart attack presents an immediate and life-threatening emergency, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack right away. These symptoms include:
- Discomfort, pain, pressure, or heaviness in the chest, below the breastbone, or in the arm
- Indigestion or feeling of fullness
- Discomfort radiating to the back, arm, throat, or jaw
- Nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular or rapid heartbeats
In addition, it is possible to have a heart attack with no symptoms, called a silent MI – myocardial infarction.
How is a heart attack treated?
The most important thing to do if you suspect you or someone else is having a heart attack is to get medical care as quickly as possible. Rapid treatment by a professional is important to reduce the damage that is done to the heart and increase the chance of survival.
Medical professionals have a variety of treatments available to them that aim to restore the supply of blood to the heart. Some of these include:
- Anti-clotting medications
- Clot-busting medications
More serious situations can require more in-depth procedures, such as:
- Stents to keep the arteries open
- Bypass surgery
While these treatments can be very effective at addressing the situation in the moment, further follow-up care by a medical professional is important to prevent future heart attacks from happening.
What can be done to prevent heart attacks?
Fortunately, steps can be taken to reduce your risk of having a heart attack, or, if you have had a heart attack, reduce your risk of having another heart attack. These include:
- Losing weight
- Reducing cholesterol
- Eating healthy
- Exercising appropriately
- Reducing high blood pressure
- Controlling stress
In addition, certain medications that reduce the risk of blood clots and lessen the work of your heart can be taken to further prevent heart attacks.
Call or go online to schedule your appointment with the team of expert doctors and nurse practitioners at Prima Medicine to learn more about how you can protect yourself against heart attacks.
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