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Heart Attack

Definition/Discussion

A heart attack occurs when one or more of the arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle become blocked.  If the blood flow to a section of the heart is not restored quickly it will become damaged from a lack of oxygen and will begin to die.  The once healthy heart tissue will be replaced by scar tissue.

It is crucial that you get help immediately if you believe you are having heart attack.  Treatment, as listed below, is most effective when started within one hour of the first symptom.

Causes

The arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart sometimes become blocked by a buildup of cholesterol.  This cholesterol buildup is also known as plaque.  The plaque impedes the flow of blood and can lead to a heart attack.

During a heart attack, one of the plaques can rupture.  This causes a blood clot to form on the site of the rupture.  If this clot is big enough it can block the flow of blood through the artery.  When the coronary arteries have narrowed due to a buildup of plaque the condition is known as coronary artery disease.  Coronary artery disease is the major cause of heart attacks.

A heart attack is usually the culmination of several hours of cardiac distress.  The sooner you recognize the signs of a heart attack and seek help the better off your heart will be.

Signs/Symptoms

If you believe you are having a heart attack please call 911 immediately.  The sooner you get help the better your chances of survival and recovery are.  

Heart attacks sometimes strike suddenly, without warning, but often they are preceded by mild pain and discomfort.  It is crucial that you pay attention to any possible signs before a full blown heart attack occurs.  The following are the most common signs and symptoms of a heart attack:

  • Chest discomfort- Discomfort will be felt in the center of the chest and last more than a few minutes. The feeling may also go away and come back. This can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing or pain.
  • Discomfort in the upper body- Pain or discomfort may be felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath- This may occur with or without chest discomfort or pain.
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness may occur as well.

Treatment

Treatment will begin in the emergency room and will focus on diagnosing the heart attack and working to remove the blockage.  Once a diagnosis has been made you may be treated in the following ways:

  • Administration of medications
  • Surgical procedures (angioplasty, stenting or bypass)
  • Rehabilitation to possibly include:    
    • Blood pressure management
    • Lipid management
    • Blood sugar management
    • Tobacco cessation
    • Exercise and diet prescriptions
    •  Stress management

If you have had a heart attack or suffer from cardiovascular disease you may qualify for disability benefits.  Please contact a Florida disability representative at Disability Help Group today for your free consultation.