Every year, over 700,000 people in the U.S. have a heart attack. On top of this, over 300,000 Americans have a recurrent heart attack. According the American Heart Association, heart disease — including coronary heart disease, hypertension and stroke — is the number one cause of death in the U.S.

The Medical Center of Aurora provides early heart attack care and is committed to preventing heart disease and reducing instances of recurrent heart attacks.

Signs of Heart Attack

If you or someone you know is experiencing a heart attack, call 9-1-1 and seek medical attention immediately. Do not attempt to drive yourself or the other person to the hospital.

Early signs and symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Nausea
  • Pain in one or both arms
  • Jaw pain
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Chest pain, pressure, squeezing or discomfort
  • Back pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling of fullness

While the most common heart attack symptom is chest pain, women may be more likely to experience some of the other symptoms, like nausea or vomiting, fatigue, dizziness or shortness of breath. Some women may have these heart attack symptoms without chest chain.

With the early signs of a heart attack, symptoms may come and go. These “beginnings” of a heart attack occur in over 50% of patients. If these signs are recognized early, the symptoms can be treated before heart damage occurs. In the first two hours of a heart attack, 85% of the heart damage occurs.

Important Facts about Heart Attacks and Heart Disease

In preventing cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, education is key. Here are some important facts about heart attacks and heart disease:

  • Risk factors for cardiovascular disease include smoking, physical inactivity, poor nutrition, overweight/obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
  • The average age for a first heart attack is age 65 for men and age 72 for women.
  • Coronary heart disease accounts for one in every seven deaths in the U.S.
  • Over 92 million Americans are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or the after-effects of stroke.

Early Intervention Can Increase Chances of Survival

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 92% of respondents in a 2005 survey recognized chest pain as a main heart attack symptom. However, only 27% of respondents were aware of all major symptoms and knew to call 9-1-1 if someone was having a heart attack.

The more quickly someone receives treatment for a heart attack, the greater their chances of survival. Nearly 50% of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside a hospital.

Diagnosing Coronary Artery Disease

The sooner heart disease is recognized and treated, the less likely a heart attack will occur. In addition to identifying a person’s risk factors for cardiovascular disease, there are some tests used to diagnose certain heart conditions and heart-related health issues.

Performed in the Cath Lab at the Medical Center of Aurora, a cardiac catheterization can identify diseases of the heart muscle, valves or coronary arteries. During the procedure, a cardiologist places a catheter into the femoral artery, which is located in the groin area. The catheter is then threaded up to the aorta and the heart.

A cardiac catheterization measures the pressure and blood flow in the heart. The procedure can also identify a blockage in one of the coronaries. A cardiac catheterization is typically an outpatient procedure.

A Leader in Treating Heart Disease

The Medical Center of Aurora provides personalized, high-quality care for a wide array of heart conditions, including emergency treatment for heart attack patients. Our team of heart specialists utilize a multidisciplinary approach, in an effort to reduce the occurrences of heart attacks and diagnose heart disease at the earliest stages.

Led by our experienced cardiothoracic surgeons, the Medical Center of Aurora has one of the best records for patients receiving life-saving procedures quickly — including treating heart attacks — in the U.S.