Each year, more than 600,000 deaths are attributed to heart disease—making it the number one cause of death in the United States. “Genetics do play a huge component. However, I would say a lot of it is lifestyle,” said Dr. Tushar Gupta, an emergency medicine physician with Lee Health.
Dr. Gupta encourages patients to have a primary care physician to monitor their health throughout the year. “It all comes down to sitting down with the patient and getting a good history and physical,” he said.
The common symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, and sweating. “Ideally, we would like to see the patient as soon as they develop some of these symptoms. However, there are also other disease processes that also give you similar symptoms, so it’s very, very hard to tease out,” said Dr. Gupta.
If a patient comes to the emergency department with symptoms of a heart attack, doctors will first work to determine the cause. “Everybody gets an EKG, that’s kind of our first diagnostic tool to really clue the clinician in whether your patient is at an increased risk of having a heart attack or not,” he explained.
If a patient has risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, or a history or heart disease, they’re at an increased risk of having a heart attack. “Many times our business is mostly reassurance and kind of teasing out what patients are at high risk for having a heart attack, and which ones disease process is due to other things such as pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, anxiety, stress,” Dr. Gupta said.
Knowing the risk factors, having regular visits with your doctor, and recognizing the symptoms early can all help patients get the immediate medical care they need.