Treatment options have improved greatly over the past decade, and many people live long, healthy lives following a heart attack. Your cardiologist or heart doctor in New York City Michael Ghalchi of Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates offer a healthy treatment plan which includes medication and lifestyle changes to reduce the plaque buildup and strengthen your entire cardiovascular system.
You may experience a heart attack, clinically called a myocardial infarction, when the flow of blood to your heart is completely or near-completely blocked. Blockage typically occurs when you have a build-up of cholesterol, fat and other substances in the arteries surrounding your heart.
These plaques can sometimes become unstable, suddenly blocking blood flow to the heart muscle. Once the flow of blood is interrupted, you can be left with a damaged heart or parts of the heart muscle destroyed. A heart attack can be fatal too.
According to the cardiovascular doctors at American Heart Foundation, someone in the United States has a heart attack approximately every 34 seconds. And every 60 seconds, someone in the U.S. dies from a heart-related condition. Close to 720,000 people have a heart attack in the country every year. And of those, 515,000 happen for the first time.
A heart attack is deemed a dire emergency. If you or someone you know appears to be having one, call 911 or cardiovascular doctor, heart specialist immediately for help. Signs of a heart attack can include:
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
- Pain and tightness in your chest that feels like something is squeezing you hard
- Chest pain that radiates down your arm or in your neck
- Sudden dizziness or feeling lightheaded
- Unexplained onset of fatigue
- Abdominal discomfort in the form of nausea, heartburn or indigestion
Different Symptoms for Different People
The symptoms vary widely among different individuals — they can range from sudden and severe to mild pain that builds slowly over time. And women experience heart attack symptoms differently than men. In addition to breaking out in a cold sweat and feeling nauseous, women may experience slightly different signs.
Signs of heart attack in women:
- Have pain only their arms, jaw, back or neck
- Get short of breath without any chest discomfort
- Feel an uncomfortable pressure in the chest that lasts for a couple minutes, dissipates, then returns
- Dismiss the pain as irrelevant or “just part of getting older”
Risk Factors Vary Too
Just as not all heart attacks look alike, so the risk factors that lead to heart attacks vary in origin as well. The blocked arteries are the cause of the event, but it’s the various conditions left untreated that lead to the eventuality of an emergency heart attack. These conditions include:
- Smoking, a very high risk factor. Inhaling second-hand smoke counts just as much.
- Age, especially women over the age of 55 and men older than 45. If you fall into these categories, you’re more likely to have a heart attack than younger people.
- Diabetes, which is so highly associated with coronary artery disease most diabetics are assumed to also have CAD
- High blood pressure. The damage of a constant force pumping through your blood vessels leads to atherosclerosis. When combined with obesity, high blood pressure puts your risk factors higher.
- High cholesterol, which damages your arteries by clogging up the walls and hampering the easy flow of blood to your heart.
- Stress – for many, this is one risk factor that is difficult to control
- Inactivity, because when your heart isn’t accustomed to pumping hard, it becomes weak.
- Family history. If your siblings, grandparents or parents have had an early heart attack, it makes you susceptible to the same.
Prevention as Cure
Treatment options offered by your NYC cardiologist or cardiovascular specialist have improved greatly over the past decade, and many people live long, healthy lives following a heart attack. But part of a healthy treatment plan includes medication and lifestyle changes to reduce the plaque buildup and strengthen your entire cardiovascular system.
In fact, studies show that anywhere from a half to 80 percent of all heart-related events like heart attacks can be avoided through lifestyle changes. The drill doesn’t change much when it comes to your overall health and reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack. The most prevalent and desirable changes that greatly lower your risk of having a heart attack include:
- Stopping cigarette smoking
- Losing weight
- Making healthier nutritional choices that includes fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and fewer saturated fats
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy blood pressure
- Lowering your cholesterol levels
- Managing stress
Know the warning signs, as well as your risk levels, for a heart attack so that you can take precautions. For example, if your father, several aunts and uncles and one or more grandparent died of a heart attack, your risk factors are greatly increased. Healthy lifestyle choices and regular checkups are vital for you. Additionally, your heart doctor or NYC cardiologist at Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates may prescribe some medications used to prevent heart attacks. Follow the directions and continue with regular cardio follow-ups, and your prognosis will be excellent.
Checking It Out
When you have an increased risk of a myocardial infarction, your heart doctor will want to run some tests to examine your heart more closely. Most heart tests are non-invasive and painless. Blood tests can verify your blood lipid levels, but other tests can provide a good picture in real time of what’s really going on:
- Electrocardiogram, or EKG, measures the electrical connections and activity taking place in your chest. Electrodes lightly stuck to your body receive electrical signals from your heart, which are then transmitted to a nearby machine. Your heart doctor can read these impulses as they happen.
- Stress test is commonly referred to as an exercise test because you’re monitored while you ride a stationary bike or run on a treadmill. Your heart doctor can see, in real time, how your heart responds to the extra stress placed on it when you exercise rigorously.
- Echocardiogram, sometimes used in tandem with a stress test, is an ultrasound procedure that’s performed with a wand that runs over a bit of gel applied to your skin. The sound waves of your heart are translated to a machine that gives your heart doctor an up-close, in-person look at your heart’s activity.
Treatment after a Heart Attack
Once you’ve had a heart attack, there are a number of treatments you may undergo, in addition to mandatory lifestyle changes. Your cardiovascular doctor may instruct you to take an aspirin daily. You may also receive:
- Blood-thinning medicine
- Antiplatelet drugs
- Clotbuster drugs
- Beta blockers
- Statins or other cholesterol medications
- ACE inhibitors
When the damage is severe, you may require emergency surgery. Your cardiologist also may recommend a procedure to prevent future heart attacks, such as:
- Coronary artery bypass surgery, which may take place immediately. Most heart doctors, though, prefer to let your heart rest some before performing the procedure. It requires them to insert veins or arteries in your body to replace damaged blood vessels.
- Coronary angioplasty and stenting, which is sometimes performed on an emergency basis, where a mesh stent can be placed at the location to open the blockage.
Don’t wait for a heart attack to take preventive measures that can save your life. Come into Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates to see a doctor to get your heart checked. Contact us today for an appointment.
Dr. Michael Ghalchi, Cardiologist (Cardiologist NYC, Midtown)
New York, NY10010
(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
☎ (212) 686-0066