Emergency Services: Heart
During a medical emergency, time is of the essence, quick and effective treatment is vital. At the FrontLine ER doctors are highly skilled in treating and caring for patients experiencing cardiovascular emergencies.
A heart attack occurs when blood flow in a coronary artery to the heart muscle is blocked. This is a life-threatening situation and medical treatment is urgently needed at this time. FrontLine ER has prepared this article to help you understand what a heart attack is; learn about the warning signs and its treatment.
Know the Symptoms
You may have heard that heart attacks are often symbolized by a sudden crushing chest pain. However, it is good to understand that some people may not experience any symptoms at all. It can happen when you are active or resting and can come along with mild pain and discomfort. The severity will depend on your gender, age, and some medical conditions. Some of the symptoms may include:
• Chest discomfort that feels heavy or full and lasts for more than a few minutes and is recurring
• Unexplained fatigue and shortness of breath, nausea or lightheadedness, indigestion, anxiety, and cold sweats
• Pain and discomfort in other parts of your upper body like the arms, back, neck, abdomen, and jaws.
What to do
Naturally, your instincts would urge you to drive yourself or the victim to the hospital, when faced with a life-threatening situation like a cardiovascular attack. The symptoms aren’t always well defined so it may be hard to tell if it’s a heart crisis or just heartburn.
• Unless you have an allergy to aspirin or have been directed by the doctor not to chew and swallow an aspirin tablet.
• If you believe that you’re having a heart attack or you had been previously prescribed nitroglycerin, take it as instructed. Do not share or take somebody else’s nitroglycerin, because you may risk an overdose.
• If the person you are with has lost consciousness, its best to begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Inform the 911 emergency medical specialists’ on call. If you have no clue about CPR, FrontLine ER recommends performing chest compressions. The dispatcher can instruct you over the phone on the proper procedures until the ambulance arrives.
What happens in the ER?
Upon arrival at the FrontLine ER, the emergency physicians will first screen you to ascertain risk factors that can lead to a heart attack. You’ll be asked to explain your symptoms while your blood pressure, pulse, and temperature are being checked to see if you’re having a heart attack. Some additional tests include:
• Electrocardiogram (ECG) records the electrical activity of your heart through electrodes attached to your skin. The impulses are recorded as waves and are displayed on a monitor.
• After a heart attack, there are certain proteins that gradually leak into your blood. Blood Tests are done to check the presence of these enzymes.
• Chest X-ray images help your doctor to check the size of your heart, its blood vessels and the presence of fluid in your lungs.
• Echocardiogram uses sound waves from a transducer that is held on your chest to provide video images of your heart. It helps to identify whether there is a part of your heart that has been damaged or isn’t pumping normally.
• An angiogram is a process whereby a liquid dye is infused into the arteries of your heart through a catheter that’s usually fed into your leg or groin. The dye enables the arteries to be visible on X-ray, thus exposing the blocked areas.
• CT Scan and Cardiac MRI. These tests can be used to diagnose the extent of damage from heart attacks. Cardiac CT scan involves you lying on a table inside a machine as it rotates, an X-ray tube within collects images of your heart and chest. On the other hand, in a cardiac MRI, the long machine produces a magnetic field that aligns with atomic particles in your cells.
• Clot-busters, like Aspirin, reduce blood clotting while Thrombolytics dissolve a blood clot thus helping maintain blood flow to your heart.
• Antiplatelet agents or platelet aggregation inhibitors help to prevent new clots from forming and existing clots from getting bigger.
• Nitroglycerin is used to treat chest pain (angina) and can help improve blood flow to the heart by dilating the blood vessels.
• Beta-blockers relax the heart muscle, slows your heartbeat, and decrease blood pressure. They can also limit heart muscle damage and prevent future cardiovascular attacks.
• ACE inhibitors are used to lower blood pressure while Statins helps to control your blood cholesterol.
• Coronary angioplasty and stenting involve inserting a catheter through an artery in your wrist or groin to a blocked artery in your heart to help in finding blockages.
• Coronary artery bypass surgery can be performed at the time of a heart attack or a few days after recovery. The surgery involves sewing veins in place beyond a blocked or narrowed coronary artery, thus allowing blood flow to bypass the narrowed section to the heart.
FrontLine ER is open 24 hours; please visit us today for swift and professional emergency care.