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What is a heart attack?
A heart attack happens when blood stops flowing to your heart. Most heart attacks are caused by coronary artery disease. This is a gradual build-up of fat that has formed in the coronary arteries. The arteries deliver the blood to the heart muscle.
Symptoms and diagnosis
Is it a heart attack?
Pain that spreads from your chest to your arm
Neck and jaw pain
Dizziness or feeling light-headed
Shortness of breath
Nausea, vomiting, indigestion
The deadliest type of heart attack is a STEMI. This is a total or near total blockage of a coronary artery. Our heart team works with EMS and referring hospitals to transport patients quickly to open these blockages.
If you think you are having a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Emergency care providers will ask you about any symptoms you are having, take your blood pressure, pulse and temperature and then connect you to a heart monitor.
Tests used to diagnose a heart attack include:
Electrocardiogram (ECG) to show changes in your heart activity
Blood tests can show higher levels of certain proteins and enzymes during a heart attack
Angiography using contrast dye to make x-ray pictures of your coronary arteries leading to your heart
Swift treatment to protect your heart
Early treatment of a heart attack is important. Restoring blood flow to the heart muscle can prevent or limit damage.
If you have heart attack symptoms call 911 rather than driving yourself to the hospital. This will get you the fastest access to care for your heart.
Common treatments for a heart attack can include a stent which can be inserted into a blocked passageway to keep it open or a coronary bypass graft surgery which which redirects blood flow around the blocked portion of the artery.
Learning for the future
At UW Health, one of our greatest strengths is the research we are involved in and the clinical trials we offer to our patients. We offer hope to patients with advanced heart disease.
Meet our team
Experts who care
Our team includes:
Cardiovascular medicine doctors
Care close to home
Patient and support services