I thought my sickness was a remnant of a stomach ailment – I had vomited twice two days earlier – but when the pressure started to build up in my chest, I thought, “Oh, is this my heart?” thought. My father died of a sudden massive heart attack many years ago. So even though I didn’t feel too bad, I went to the emergency room. “I’m sure it’s nothing,” I said shyly to the triage nurse, feeling like a hypochondriac.
Less than an hour later, I was rushed by helicopter to a hospital with a cardiac catheterization lab. Doctors can then identify potential blockages and, in some cases, reopen blocked arteries.
“Most people will say, ‘I was sick and had indigestion a few days ago.’ There’s usually something wrong,” says Alan Cardiologist and electrophysiologist at Bethesda’s suburban hospital. Schneider says. , where he was treated. “It doesn’t have to be crushing pain.”
Upper body pain is a lesser-known but common heart attack sign. “Anything between your navel and your forehead could be a heart-related condition,” says cardiologist, immediate past president of the American Heart Association and director of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Department of Preventive Medicine. says Donald M. Lloyd Jones of
Gen Xers like me (I’m 57) may remember Fred Sanford having chest-wrenching heart attacks.sanford and son’ But the pain isn’t always dramatic. In my case, it felt like a weight on my ribs, or like my chest was overfilled with air.
“The typical symptom is an elephant sitting in the middle of the chest, a heavy, crushing pressure in the middle of the chest,” Lloyd-Jones said. “Never ignore it. It’s the most common warning sign.”
Other possible warning signs include arm pain (usually on the left side), abdominal pain, and even gum or jaw pain. Consider calling 911 if your discomfort is accompanied by other symptoms such as sweating, shortness of breath, dizziness, or fainting. For women, heart attack symptoms can be more widespread or vague, such as sudden arm pain, neck or jaw pain, and nausea. Vomiting. Dizziness. Feeling unusually tired.
And, as the Mayo Clinic explains, heart attack symptoms can appear “hours, days, or weeks before.” website.
Dr. Lloyd Jones’ advice is, “When symptoms come on often with exercise and get better with rest, that’s a red flag for any doctor. ‘Take me to the hospital and see what’s going on.'” I say.”
One thing is not Predictable heart attack warning signs: elevated blood pressure. My blood pressure was high (156/84 before going to the ER), but “some heart attacks can make it very low,” says Lloyd-Jones.
Other lessons learned from my experience are:
My approach to health issues is usually “Well, I’m sure it’s nothing.” But when you find that many of your symptoms match, Mayo Clinic Warning SignsI went to the ER.
Within an hour of my arrival, cardiologist Yuri Daychuk had an electrocardiogram (EKG) of my heart at home, diagnosed a blockage in the coronary arteries leading to my heart, and unblocked my arteries. I set up a catheterization team at a suburban hospital to do this.
“Time is a muscle,” Daychuck later told me, a phrase often used among cardiologists. To prevent heart cell death, doctors must quickly restore blood flow and oxygen levels. Their goal is that within 90 minutes of symptom onset, he will take the patient to the catheter lab and insert a stent (a small, expandable coil of metal mesh that holds the artery open once inserted). That’s it.
As one of my nurses learned, procrastination can be deadly. She shared the story of a 49-year-old friend who showed signs of a heart attack. Her friend called her GP that night, but she decided to see if her symptoms improved overnight. By morning he was dead.
Call 911, not Uber (or a friend)
i made a mistake. I asked my friend to drive me to the emergency room. Experts say it’s smarter than driving yourself, but you should have called 911. If his heart had stopped while he was driving, paramedics could have treated him immediately. They have a defibrillator to restart the heart, an electrocardiogram machine to check the heart rhythm, life-saving drugs, and which hospitals have the proper equipment to treat heart problems. I know. A friend took me to the nearest hospital, which did not have a catheterization unit, so I ended up having to be taken by helicopter to a hospital with a catheterization unit.Catheterization is essential to clear arterial blockages
The New Jersey-based Atlantic Health System found a heart attack patient who called 911. Received treatment 30 minutes early On average than those who drove themselves. But many patients, like me, do not make such calls. My symptoms seemed mild, so 911 felt extreme and could cost an ambulance depending on the situation.
Some heart attack patients choose ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft.a 2017 survey Uber found a 7% drop in ambulance usage in the cities in which it operates. But the driver’s sedan probably doesn’t have an EKG or defibrillator, so riding in his Uber for a heart attack is no safer than riding with a friend.
Daychak said he remembered having a sudden experience with a patient arriving at the hospital via Uber. ventricular fibrillation (Cardiac arrhythmia, the most common cause of sudden cardiac death). If the driver had arrived five minutes late, she could have died.
“You want paramedics to keep an eye on you,” says Lloyd-Jones. “If something happens, we can respond immediately.”
Having a heart attack is stressful. In her ER at the first hospital, an alarm was heard by the voice of a nurse who had read my ECG report. I could see the worried faces of the helicopter crew who drove me to the helipad. In the catheterization lab, staff rushed around the room, shaving the parts of me that shouldn’t be shaved, inserting catheters into arteries, and injecting dye to detect blockages on the screen. (“It gets hot,” said the technician. Yes, the dye burned on my arms and chest.)
But to my surprise, the overwhelming emotion I felt was not fear, but gratitude. In my life-or-death rush, I was grateful for the people I love, the people who love me, and the team who care for me. That calm feeling may have eased the burden on my heart.
For patients who are understandably frightened and upset, “Anxiolytics are one of the most common treatments we have in the emergency room,” Lloyd-Jones said. “If you can keep your heart rate low and your blood pressure moderate, your heart will work less and less cardiomyocytes will die.”
I immediately had another reason to be grateful. The team expected to find a large blockage after threading the catheter through my arm to my heart. But my arteries looked fine. what happened?
Doctors plaque Cholesterol and other substances built up fat in the walls of the arteries, causing them to rupture and clot, allowing the hardened plaque to pass naturally. I was incredibly lucky.what if the clot is bigger did not Did you pass? In some cases, even a minor heart attack can “jump” a patient’s heart rhythm, Daychuk said.
Instead, less than 36 hours after my heart attack, I was in my hospital room holding an IV pole ready for discharge. Scans showed no damage to the myocardium. I was lucky.
Lloyd Jones said I had one heart attack and was likely to have another. It is clear that plaque can form in arteries. I feel mostly fine, but the worst part was the pain in his wrist and arm from the catheter that lasted him two weeks. For several weeks after the heart attack, my ECG readings were irregular and I had occasional heart palpitations, sometimes three to five times a day. But it’s been almost 5 months since my visit to the cath lab and fortunately everything is back to normal.
My long-term prognosis is also good, Schneider said. I just finished cardiac rehab (imagine a gym where everyone wears a heart monitor and gets a blood pressure check). It has helped me lose 7 pounds and lower my blood pressure. I also take new heart medications, such as platelet inhibitors and daily aspirin, to reduce my risk (I was already on statins and beta-blockers). Even before my heart attack, I was more likely to eat salads than hamburgers, but my doctor suggested reducing my daily salt intake, and making some sacrifices for it, including my favorite pizza. became.
But from my current position, there is value in preventing a return visit to the ER.
“This was a shot over the bow,” Schneider said. “You may die, but instead you live here.”