Limiting damage key when heart attack hits
Symptoms of a classic heart attack, according to Heine, are mid-sternal chest pain that’s not usually sharp, but instead feels like heavy pressure, tightness and burning. One thing to note: The pain does not go away.
“It’s an intense discomfort … people who have pain that persists and does not go away need to go in and get evaluated,” Heine said. “Time is muscle; The quicker you get there and the quicker we’re able to resolve the blockage, the better off the patient’s going to be, and less damage can happen.”
Heine said people who go to the hospital with a heart attack frequently get taken directly to the catheterization laboratory where they try to get the vessel open.
“Once that blood flow is reestablished, the injury is interrupted,” he said. “It doesn’t resolve the injury, but it aborts it and keeps it from getting severely damaged so the patient doesn’t end up with a bad pump and heart failure, which we’re trying to avoid.”
Heine said it’s important for people to know their blood pressure, as there are usually not many symptoms associated with hypertension, or high blood pressure, until the problem already has manifested.
“Long, untreated hypertension leads to heart failure. So the initial manifestation of the hypertension may be heart failure,” he said. “Some people get kidney problems from hypertension, so you end up with kidney failure, and looking back on it, hypertension played a role in that.”
Heine said most of the time, hypertension is silent and manifests itself after it’s been present for a while and should have been treated.
People are susceptible to hypertension if they are overweight, if they have a bad diet (including lots of salt) or drink excessively. It’s also more prevalent among the African-American and Mexican-American population. Heine said people can change high blood pressure without medication if they drastically change their diets.
“A lot of this stuff requires patient effort; it’s not a quick fix,” he said.
Heine said good Internet resources for patient education include Up to Date (www.uptodate.com), the American Heart Association (www.heart.org/HEARTORG), the American College of Cardiology (www.cardiosource.org), the National Institutes of Health (www.nih.gov) and the National Library of Medicine (http://www.nlm.nih.gov).
NAME: Dr. Jon Heine
COMMUNITY CONNECTION: Practices at Memorial City Hospital
FAST FACT: Heine enjoys playing golf in his spare time.
Mark DeHaven is a freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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