Baptist Health Louisville: Detecting and Preventing Myocardial Infarction
Cardiologist WILLIAM DILLON, MD, explains ways that can help prevent heart disease and describes the common symptoms people may feel when having a heart attack.
Detecting and Preventing Heart Attack
William Dillon, MD, Cardiology
A heart attack is when a blockage or a narrowing in one of the coronary arteries, the arteries that supply blood to the heart, breaks open and suddenly goes from maybe 30-, 40-, 50-percent narrowed, to 100 percent narrowed — a clot forms there. Everywhere beyond where that clot is does not get blood or oxygen, and that area of the heart starts to die. The things you can do to prevent heart attacks are exercise every day, don’t smoke — that’s really the most critical thing. Keep your weight in the ideal range, a high quality diet with lots of fruits and vegetables — those are things that are under your control. The symptoms of a heart attack are of course chest discomfort which is often classically described with somebody putting their fist on their chest, shortness of breath, sweatiness, fatigue, nausea, sometimes the discomfort can radiate up into the neck or the jaw and into the left arm. Those are the traditional symptoms we see when people are having problems with blockages in the arteries to the heart. So, if somebody suspects that they are having a heart attack, it’s imperative that they call 911. Have the medics come see you, and they will check you out and often bring you to the hospital, where we can do some testing to make sure that you’re OK.