Chest pain is one of the most common symptoms of a heart attack and one of the most common reasons people visit the emergency room. Each year more than one million Americans have a heart attack, and nearly half of those heart attacks are fatal. Emergency room physicians will tell you that for a heart attack to be treated effectively, the treatments must start within 30 minutes from when the symptoms start.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack
When it comes to heart attacks, knowing the symptoms and getting prompt medical attention can make a huge difference in the outcome. Here are the symptoms of a heart attack:
Women are more likely to experience less common symptoms such as feeling short of breath, nausea or vomiting and pain in the back and jaw.
If you or someone you know has any symptoms of a heart attack, it’s very important that you seek immediate emergency treatment. Call 9-1-1 for emergency care instead of driving to the hospital in the midst of a heart attack.
Heart Attack Treatments
The main heart attack treatments are thrombolytic or clot-busting drugs, aspirin, nitrates and beta blockers. Aspirin is now given to all patients who arrive at the hospital with a suspected heart attack because it helps thin the blood and reduce the size of the clot blocking one of the blood vessels in the heart.
There are a number of special procedures available that doctors can use to treat heart attacks. Coronary angioplasty uses a very small catheter that is threaded through an artery (usually from the groin area) into the narrowed artery. At the end of the catheter is a tiny balloon that is opened and closed in the narrowed area to stretch it out. Doctors also can insert a tiny mesh tube called a stent to help keep the artery open.
For blocked arteries, doctors may need to perform a bypass. In a coronary artery bypass graft operation, doctors take a healthy section of artery and use it to route around the blockage.
Improving Heart Attack Care
Fountain Valley Regional Hospital’s Chest Pain Center is the only Orange County hospital accredited by the Society of Chest Pain Centers, which means that FVRH meets or exceeds quality-of-care measures associated with diagnosing and treating heart attacks.
As an Accredited Chest Pain Center, Fountain Valley Regional Hospital has demonstrated its commitment to providing quality cardiac care and has the resources available to rapidly diagnose and treat patients.
A study published in the July 2008 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology found that hospitals accredited by the Society of Chest Pain Centers perform better on the heart attack measures established by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as compared to non-accredited facilities. These core measures represent best practices in the care for heart attacks.
“We have an obligation to provide the finest care possible to our community,” said interventional cardiologist Arthur Calick, M.D., Medical Director of the Chest Pain Center at FVRH. “It’s about saving lives.”
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