Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. This happens because coronary arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood flow can slowly become narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances that together are called plaque. This process is known as atherosclerosis. This increases the likelihood that a blood clot will form. Blood clots can block the blood flow through the heart muscle causing parts of the heart muscle to be starved for oxygen, 

Heart attack diagram

causing tissue damage or death. When damage or death of part of the heart muscle occurs, it is called a heart attack. Damage increases the longer an artery stays blocked. Once that muscle dies, the result is permanent heart damage.

Heart Attack Warning Signs:

The warning signs of a heart attack vary from person to person.  You may have just one symptom or a combination. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. A person experiencing a heart attack may not even be sure of what is happening. It's important to know the signs of a heart attack because people often misdiagnose or ignore the symptoms of a heart attack because they don’t think it could happen to them.

If you experience any of these symptoms, you may be having a heart attack:

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  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or intense pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.

  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, fatigue, nausea vomiting or lightheadedness.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these signs or symptoms:

Do not wait to call for help.

Call for an ambulance
Call 811 for T&T's ambulance service. Make sure to follow the operator’s instructions.

Early treatment can decrease the potential damage to your heart. Even if you're not sure if something is wrong, you should get to a hospital if you experience symptoms of a heart attack. 

Women may experience any of the heart attack warning signs. However, they can sometimes experience heart attacks slightly differently to men. Learn more about women's heart attack symptoms.

Common Risk Factors for Heart Attack

  • Obesity

  • Unhealthy Diet

  • Alcohol

  • Stress

  • Depression

Recovery:

 

The heart muscle begins to heal soon after a heart attack however, scar tissue may form in the damaged area, which does not contract or pump as well as healthy muscle tissue. The degree of loss of function depends on the size and location of the scar tissue. Heart attack survivors have to make important lifestyle changes and possibly take medication to prevent a future heart attack and lead a full, productive life.

Lifestyle changes are important steps in preventing  another heart attack, these include:

  • Quit Smoking 

  • Physical Activity 

  • Healthy eating 

  • Maintaining a healthy weight

  • Taking Medication as prescribed

Track your journey to a healthier heart. Work with your doctor to formulate a heart health plan.