A heart attack occurs when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked, most often by a build-up of fat, cholesterol and other substances in the coronary arteries. The interrupted blood flow can damage or destroy part of the heart muscle. Restoring blood flow quickly is vital to surviving a heart attack and preventing permanent damage.
While some heart attacks are sudden and intense – and unmistakable – most start with mild pain or discomfort that can easily be mistaken for fairly benign conditions. People often dismiss a heart attack as indigestion or even a muscle pull and delay vital treatment.
Listen to your body. Early detection can prevent a heart attack or the heart muscle damage that goes along with it. The most common symptoms are:
Don’t let more than five minutes pass if you suspect a heart attack. An ambulance is almost always the fastest and safest way to get to the hospital, and emergency medical services (EMS) can begin tests and life-saving treatment, such as clot-busting drugs, as soon as they arrive. But to be most effective, these treatments must be given within one hour of the first symptoms.
If you go to the hospital in an ambulance, treatment will begin en route to restore blood flow and limit damage to the heart. You may be given:
At the hospital, you may receive:
The biggest risk factor for a heart attack is coronary artery disease. By living a heart-healthy lifestyle, you can help slow or prevent coronary artery disease, lowering your risk of a heart attack.
His status as a former professional athlete and amateur baseball hall of fame member could not protect Pat Bone from a “widowmaker” heart attack. His faith and his infamous competitive nature pulled him through. Now he is on a crusade to spread the message of heart health.
At Mercy, we offer comprehensive testing services to diagnose conditions and injuries, including:
At Mercy, we offer compassionate care for a variety of treatment services, including:
Mercy's nationally recognized heart experts offer screenings to keep hearts healthy. Request A Screening.
Discover how you can participate in a research study. Learn more.