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Heart Attack Care

Expert Heart Attack Care in Anderson

A heart attack is a medical emergency that requires immediate care. The chances of surviving a heart attack increase dramatically if you get medical help when symptoms first appear. Yet most people wait three hours to go to an emergency room after symptoms flare up.

Taking a wait-and-see attitude instead of rushing to the emergency room can seriously damage the heart muscle – or even lead to death. It’s vital to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack and seek prompt emergency care. 

At AnMed Health, a multi-disciplinary group of specialists work together to fast-track heart attack patients. This team works closely with EMS to diagnose heart attacks from the field. When patients reach our doors, the Heart Attack Alert Team institutes protocols to confirm the diagnosis and treat patients with the appropriate medication immediately. 

This cooperation between EMS, Emergency Services and the Heart and Vascular Center is one reason AnMed Health's door-to-balloon time – the time from a patient's arrival in the Emergency Department to their treatment in the heart catheterization lab – is consistently well below the American College of Cardiology's 90-minute benchmark. Most heart attack patients have a door-to-balloon time of 60 minutes or less.

Heart Attack Symptoms

  • Pressure in the center of your chest: It might feel like there’s a tight, painful band squeezing your chest. It may also feel like heartburn.

  • Pain radiating to your shoulders, neck, or arms: It may be constant, or it may come and go in waves. You could also feel numbness and tingling in your arms, especially the left one.

  • Sweating: You might break out in a cold sweat with lightheadedness and shortness of breath.

  • Nausea: Nausea is sometimes accompanied by vomiting.

  • Fainting or Weakness: Women and older adults may feel weakness and fatigue. 

  • Mental confusion: Older adults may become disoriented.

Heart Attack Emergency Care in Anderson

If a friend or family member is experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, quick action on your part is critical. The first step is to help them sit down and to loosen any tight clothing so they can breathe freely. Then, ask if they take heart medications such as nitroglycerin. If they do, help them take it right away.

If the symptoms don’t improve after the person has begun to rest – or within three minutes of taking the nitroglycerin – call 911 and ask for an ambulance. Your family member may try to convince you the symptoms are insignificant, but don’t give up. When it comes to a heart attack, it’s far better to overreact than to underreact. Don’t leave them alone, except to call for help.

When to Call 911 Immediately

You need to dial 911 right away if:

  • The person is not responding to your questions or is unconscious.

  • The person is not breathing.

  • There is a sudden onset of massive pain in the chest.

In these cases, seek heart attack emergency care by calling 911. Then begin CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). 

Causes of a Heart Attack

Heart attacks are usually caused by a buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries. Plaque is a hard, fatty substance that clogs the arteries, leading to coronary artery disease. During a heart attack, the plaque ruptures, forming a blood clot. If the clot is large, it can disrupt the blood flow to your heart, starving it of oxygen. At some point, heart cells begin to die.

The trigger for a heart attack may be a sudden shock to the heart, like going outside on a cold day or dealing with a stressful situation. But it can also start for seemingly no reason — in the middle of the night when you’re asleep, for instance.

Risk Factors for a Heart Attack

Some risk factors for a heart attack are beyond your control. If you’re a man 45 or older or a woman 55 or older, you’re more likely to have a heart attack. A family history of early heart attacks may increase your risk as well. Medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or autoimmune disease can also increase heart attack risk.

Other risk factors include:

  • Obesity: Obesity is directly linked to high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and diabetes, which can lead to coronary artery disease.

  • Metabolic syndrome: This is a triple threat that happens when you're obese and have high blood sugar and high blood pressure. This condition makes you twice as likely to have heart disease.

  • Sedentary lifestyle: There’s a clear link between a lack of exercise and heart disease. More than a third of deaths from coronary heart disease are caused by inactivity. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. If you don’t exercise, it leads to higher cholesterol and obesity. 

  • Tobacco or illegal drug use: The chemicals in tobacco can damage your blood cells and reduce heart function. Stimulants like methamphetamine can trigger a spasm in your coronary arteries that leads to a heart attack.

How to Prevent a Heart Attack

Eating a heart-healthy diet and exercising regularly are the two main ways to keep your heart in prime condition. For instance, the Mediterranean diet limits foods that are bad for the heart, such as animal fats, sugar, and fried foods. Instead, try a rainbow of fruits and vegetables along with healthy proteins like fish.

Regular exercise helps your heart work more efficiently, making blood flow more easily. This keeps your blood pressure low and your arteries clear so your heart doesn’t need to work as hard. 

Exercise also helps you lose weight. You don’t have to be spandex-slim to see an improvement in your health, however. Losing 10% of your body weight can lower the risk of a heart attack. 

Other preventive measures include:

  • Taking medications: Your doctor can prescribe medications to lower your cholesterol. Medications can also reduce the risk of a second heart attack if you’ve already had one.

  • Limiting alcohol: Too much alcohol can raise blood triglycerides. 

  • Keeping stress in check: Stress can lead to heart disease. When you’re stressed, your body releases the so-called "stress hormone" cortisol that can raise blood pressure and cholesterol. Manage your stress by avoiding situations that trigger negative feelings. Make time for fun and relaxation, strolling through nature or taking restful vacations.

Emergency Heart Care in Anderson

The AnMed Health emergency services are the gateway to a wide array of expert services and medical specialties, provided by more than 400 staff physicians. Our emergency heart care in Anderson uses the latest training and technology for the best outcomes. Should you experience a cardiac emergency in Anderson, call 911 and let our health professionals provide the expert care you deserve. 

At AnMed Health, each of our Emergency Department doctors is board-certified in emergency medicine, and our doctors and emergency room nurses are certified in Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support. This means that when a potential heart attack patient arrives in the Emergency Department, they are quickly evaluated and diagnosed by highly-trained staff. Our cardiologists work closely with Emergency Department physicians so that you receive the best care from your arrival in the Emergency Department, your treatment and your follow-up care.