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Heart Attack

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack is when the blood supply to your heart suddenly becomes blocked. If the blood supply is not restored quickly, part of the heart muscle will die from lack of oxygen.

The technical term for a heart attack is a myocardial infarction. Over 1 million Americans have a heart attack each year.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of a heart attack can vary from person to person. If you think you may be having a heart attack but aren't certain, it is best to call 911.

Most common symptoms of a heart attack are:

  • Chest pain, either mild or severe
  • Squeezing pressure in the upper body
  • Pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Nausea or indigestion
  • Vomiting
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat

How is it treated?

There are several methods that are used to treat patients who are having a heart attack.

  • A thin catheter is inserted through a blood vessel in your thigh and threaded up to the blocked artery. A tiny balloon is then used to open up the blockage. A stent—a miniature wire tube—is then placed in the blood vessel to hold it open and allow blood to flow normally.
  • Coronary artery bypass surgery. In this surgery, a blood vessel is taken from another part of your body and used to go around—or bypass—the blocked coronary artery. This surgery is often called "open heart surgery". Coronary artery bypass surgery is often used for patients with more severe blockages or those with several blockages.
  • Clot-busting drugs. In some cases, patients may be treated with thrombolytic therapy, or clot-busting drugs. These medications are given through an IV and do not involve surgery.

What is Lee Health's approach?

The recovery from a heart attack depends upon how fast it is treated. An important measure of a heart center is its "door-to-balloon time"—the time from when a patient with a heart attack arrives in the emergency department until that person's coronary artery is re-opened with a balloon catheter.

HealthPark Medical Center, Gulf Coast Medical Center, Cape Coral Hosptital, and Lee Memorial Hospital have been recognized as fully accredited Chest Pain Centers, with "door-to-balloon time," (the time from when a patient with a heart attack arrives in the emergency department until that person's coronary artery is re-opened with a balloon catheter.), consistently beating the national standard. This level of care greatly increases a patients chance of survival from a heart attack.

Lee Health's cardiac care teams perform more 2,000 angioplasty (PTCA) per year.

At Lee Health, our Heart Attack Team is on standby 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. Our speed in treating heart attacks places us in the top 10 percent of all hospitals in the United States.

The cardiologists working in our outpatient facilities offer a multi-disciplinary approach to prevent and treat coronary artery disease.

Having chest pain?

In a life-threatening emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number. If you are unable to do so, ask someone to call for you or to take you to the nearest emergency care facility. You may go to any hospital in your area for emergency care.