Heart Attack

Heart failure is a very common condition. About 5.7 million people in the United States have heart failure, and it results in about 300,000 deaths each year.  

What is a Heart Attack?

When blood flow to the heart stops or is severely reduced, a heart attack occurs. Often, a heart attack is caused by the buildup of a fat-like substance called plaque in the arteries. That’s why it’s important to learn if you have heart disease early and work with your doctor to combat it before it causes a heart attack.

When a heart attack happens, it’s important to call 9-1-1 and get medical attention immediately. Without treatment, a heart attack is fatal. And the longer it takes to get medical care, the greater the risk of permanent damage to the heart muscle.

Common heart attack symptoms include:


  • Chest discomfort    
  • Discomfort or pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach  
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness

Not sure if it’s a heart attack? Don’t take the risk. Call 9-1-1 and get to the nearest emergency room.  

Treatment Options for Heart Attack

When you arrive in the emergency department, a cardiologist will confirm whether you’re experiencing a heart attack. Then, interventional cardiologists will step in to stop the attack. Heart attack treatments include:          

  • Medication. You may be given aspirin or clot-busting drugs to dissolve a clot that’s preventing blood from getting to your heart. Sometimes, nitroglycerin is administered to open up the blood vessels. There are also medications to treat your pain and to relax the heart so it doesn’t have to work so hard.
  • Angioplasty and stenting. Using special instruments, a tiny balloon is inserted into the coronary arteries. The balloon is then inflated to widen the blocked blood vessel. This procedure typically requires an overnight stay and may be combined with a stent implantation as well. A stent is a wire mesh tube that is inserted into the artery. The device is permanent and keeps the artery open. In more severe cases, other surgical options may be explored.          

After a heart attack, cardiovascular rehabilitation is essential. Cardiac rehab combines education and exercise to slowly restore and strengthen the heart muscle to help prevent a future heart attack.  

Why Parrish Medical Center

At Parrish Medical Center, we know that during a heart attack, time is muscle. That’s why PMC’s heart emergency team’s “time to treatment” is 60 minutes or less—meaning that within 60 minutes of arriving at the emergency department, patients will receive a cardiac catheterization in PMC’s state-of-the-art catheterization lab. The national best-practice goal is 90 minutes.

During a cardiac catherization, an interventional cardiologist uses special X-rays to examine the heart’s blood vessels. A thin, hollow tube called a catheter is used to inject dye into the vessels so the cardiologist can see what’s happening inside the heart. Parrish Medical Center has specially trained nurses and physicians to recognize and care for heart failure patients. Its cardiovascular care program also has earned The Joint Commission Disease-Specific Care Certification Gold Seal for excellence in heart attack treatment A free monthly heart failure support group is available to help people cope with their diagnosis and live fuller, healthier lives.  

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