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Heart Attack: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Oct 29, 2021

What is the treatment?

Heart attack occurs when flow of blood to the heart gets blocked. It may be due to build up of fat, cholesterol and other substances in the arteries. You will feel extreme sensation or ache in your chest or arms, nausea and shortness of breath. One must always rush for medical help as soon as the slightest of these symptoms are felt. An electrocardiogram (ECG) is done to record the electric activities of your heart along with a blood test. The immediate medications given during heart attack are aspirin, thrombolytics, antiplatelet agents, morphine and nitroglycerin. There are surgeries like coronary angioplasty and stenting and coronary artery bypass.

What are the six signs of a Heart Attack?

Not all heart ailments come with warning signs. It is very difficult to tell what’s happening inside your heart. There are some symptoms that won’t even occur in your chest. If you are not sure about it then it is the right time to consult your doctor especially if you are more than 60 and overweight or suffering from hypertension or high cholesterol. Apart from this, there are 6 warning or red signals that indicate a Heart Attack.

  • Unusual chest pain or discomfort.
  • Pain in arms, back, neck, and jaws.
  • Heartburn.
  • Lightheadedness, nausea, shortness of breath.
  • Cold sweat.
  • Extremely tired.

Does your body warn you before a Heart Attack?

Yes, sometimes your body sends some signals to your brain 1 week before the actual Heart Attack happens. It is imperative to identify these signals to thwart Heart Attacks. Sometimes people mistook it for normal chest pain or pulled muscle. The ill-fated outcome is people wait for too long to recognize a Heart Attack. Hence, it is recommended that whenever you feel the below symptoms, quickly rush to the nearest hospital for help.

  • Nausea.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Pulled muscles.
  • Discomfort in chest.
  • Dizziness.
  • Back pain.
  • Unusual fatigue.

Is a Heart Attack painful?

When you experience a Heart Attack, every single second counts. Heart Attacks are of two types- mild and severe. Mild symptoms can last for a couple of hours while severe symptoms could be sudden and intense. There are some people, often diabetic, who have never experienced chest pain. So, it differs from one person to another.

How do they diagnose a Heart Attack?

There are certain tests (ECG) and symptoms that help in diagnosing a Heart Attack. If a Heart Attack is suspected then you will be immediately admitted to the hospital under observation.

How is the treatment done?

Aspirin helps in maintaining blood flow through a narrowed artery by reducing blood clotting. Thrombolytics dissolve the blood clot that’s blocking blood flow to your heart. Consumption of this drug in time increases your chances of surviving the heart attack. Antiplatelet agents prevent existing blood clots from becoming larger and also stop the formation of new clots. Morphine helps you deal with the pain and discomfort. Nitroglycerin widens the blood vessels thus, improving the blood flow to the heart. Medications are not enough to deal with a heart attack. In addition to medications, you may have to undergo surgeries. Coronary angioplasty and stenting is done immediately after a heart attack. A long thin tube called catheter is passed through an artery in your leg or groin to a blocked artery in your heart. To restore blood flow to the heart, a metal mesh stent is inserted into the artery to keep it open. In some cases, one may need to go for bypass surgery. Veins and arteries are sewed in a place away from blocked or narrowed coronary artery. This allows the blood to bypass the narrowed section and reach the heart. You may remain in the hospital for several days if you have a bypass surgery.

What happens if a Heart Attack goes untreated?

If not treated immediately, it can prove fatal. So, it is better to see a doctor rather than wait for the biggest nightmare of your life.

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Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

If you are going through acute chest pain, strange tightness in arms, shoulders and legs, sudden and huge amount of sweating, shortness of breath or light headedness; you must rush for medical help.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is the most common reason for chest pains. Do not confuse these pains with heart attack.

Are there any side effects?

Surgeries may have side effects like mild weakness and pain in body for a few days.

Is mild Heart Attack serious?

A mild attack generally means you still have hope. Your heart is not damaged properly. It is still beating normally. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the symptoms. Taking medical help even in mild Heart Attacks is strongly recommended. The sooner you get access to care, the lesser are the chances of your heart damage.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

You must stay away from alcohol and tobacco. Control your blood and sugar levels. Make sure that your diet is very healthy consisting of proteins, whole grains, fish and beans. Make regular appointments with your doctor to keep a check on your improvement. Maintain your body weight and exercise regularly.

How long does it take to recover?

You may have to remain in the hospital for 5-7 days. It may take a few weeks for you to resume your routine activities to the fullest.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The cost of a bypass surgery ranges from ₹150000- ₹400000. Coronary angioplasty and stenting can cost ₹100000- ₹300000.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results of the treatment are permanent if proper care is taken.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

There are no alternatives to the treatment.

Can drinking water prevent a Heart Attack?

Yes, water can prevent a Heart Attack. Before going to the bed, drink a glass of water. There are some people who don’t like to get up in the middle of the night for using the restroom. So, they prefer drinking to avoid waking up at the night. This is the concern now! A glass of drink can cause a Heart Attack while a glass of water can save you from the one.

Summary: No all-chest pains are called Heart Attacks but it is better to see a doctor first instead of waiting for the one to happen. Some Heart Attacks don’t give signals.

References

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Written ByDr. Rahul Gupta MD - Internal Medicine,MBBS,DM - Cardiology,Fellow European Society of CardiologyCardiology
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