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Know the Signs of a Heart Attack

  • Category: Blog
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  • Written By: Kirby Medical Center

Man holding his chest

Identifying the Signs of a Heart Attack

While most of us picture someone clutching their chest as a warning sign of a heart attack, there's more to it. The health experts at Kirby Medical Center are here to give you some additional insight on how to identify this cardiac event and what you should do if you suspect it.

What is a Heart Attack?

Your heart is a muscle that needs oxygen in order to function properly. A heart attack is a cardiac event that happens when the blood flow that delivers oxygen to your heart is obstructed. This obstruction significantly decreases the amount of oxygen getting to your heart or even cuts it off altogether.

This can happen when your coronary arteries (arteries that supply blood to the heart) are compromised due to a buildup of cholesterol, fat, and plaque. This process is called atherosclerosis.

Once the blood flow to the heart muscle is blocked, the heart stops getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs to survive. This causes ischemia, which is the damage or death to part of the heart. Once part of the heart is damaged, a heart attack happens.

Heart attacks can be brought on by a sudden spasm of the coronary artery.

Signs & Symptoms

The most common symptoms that point to a heart attack include:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Feeling weak or faint
  • Pain or discomfort in the back (most commonly your upper back) or neck
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms
  • Shortness of breath

Although the previously mentioned symptoms can affect anyone, there are a unique set of symptoms that affect women differently. These symptoms can include:

  • Pressure or squeezing sensation in the chest
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw or stomach
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness

What to Do if You Suspect a Heart Attack

If you think that you or someone around you is having a heart attack, dial 9-1-1 immediately. In the event of a heart attack, it is imperative that you act fast; the more time passes without treatment, the more extensive the damage can be to the heart.

Contact Kirby Medical Center

At Kirby Medical Center, we are dedicated to helping our community learn how to stay healthy and safe. If you are concerned about your health risks and the types of vaccines that are right for you, contact Kirby Medical Center at 217-762-2115 to learn more about how we can assist with all your healthcare needs.