Heart Attack | Loyola Medicine

Heart Attack

Expert and Rapid Diagnosis and Treatment of Heart Attacks

Heart attack is one of the many coronary conditions diagnosed and treated by the highly skilled cardiologists and interventional cardiologists at Loyola Medicine. Our multidisciplinary team of doctors provides an integrated approach to the diagnosis and treatment of heart attacks, and our patients receive comprehensive care from the onset of an attack to recovery and rehabilitation.

Heart attack, also called myocardial infarction, occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to your heart muscle is reduced or stopped. Over time your coronary arteries, which supply your heart muscle with blood, can become narrow with plaque buildup. When the plaque breaks inside your artery, a blood clot can form around the plaque (thrombosis), thereby restricting or blocking blood flow. Decreased blood flow to your heart, or ischemia, that causes damage or death to part of your heart muscle is a heart attack. 

While a heart attack can cause permanent heart damage or heart scar, fast and proper treatment from skilled doctors can prevent extensive damage and cardiogenic shock—and can improve your chances of resuming normal activity and lifestyle.

 

How is a Heart Attack Diagnosed?

Doctors at Loyola are experts in diagnosing a heart attack and rapidly implementing treatment that can save your life. The initial steps to diagnosis are often based on heart attack symptoms. 

One of the most common heart attack symptoms is chest pain or angina. While some patients exhibit stable angina, which does not mean a heart attack, unstable and variant angina are strong indicators that a heart attack could occur.

In addition to chest pain, there are several heart attack symptoms, which can include:

  • Feeling dizzy
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Pain or discomfort in your arms, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath

In some instances, you may be experiencing a heart attack without any of these symptoms, which is called a silent heart attack. 
 
Regardless of the presence of symptoms, your doctor will take into consideration your complete medical history and a physical exam. If a heart attack is suspected, further tests may include:

What are the Common Types of Treatment for Heart Attack?

Immediate heart attack treatment can increase blood flow and improve heart function. If your doctor suspects a heart attack you will likely receive:

  • Aspirin to reduce further blood clotting
  • Medicines to improve blood flow and relieve your heart muscle from working too hard
  • Oxygen therapy

Once a heart attack has been confirmed, your doctor will take prompt action to restore blood flow and prevent further heart injury. Treatment may include:

Heart attack treatment may also include preventive measures to reduce your risk of recurrence. These treatments may include:

  • Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors to control blood pressure
  • Anti-clotting medication
  • Arrhythmia medication
  • Blood thinners
  • Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs, commonly known as statins

Heart Attack Risk Reduction and Prevention

While there is no guarantee that you will not have a heart attack in your lifetime, there are several steps you can take to reduce heart disease risk and prevent heart problems:

  • Control your diabetes
  • Implement good nutrition
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Lower your cholesterol
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce your stress

Learn more about reducing your risk of heart disease.