Heart attacks, also known as anginas, are a fairly common type of chest pain resulting from less than adequate blood supply to the heart muscles. A common mistake in the assessment and treatment of heart attack patients is mistaking chest pain for heartburn or acid reflux. This malpractice mistake can have traumatic effects: heart attack patients require urgent life-saving treatment and care NOT provided to patients suffering from heartburn or acid reflux.
Common causes of heart attacks include various forms of coronary artery disease, such as aortic stenosis, hypertension, and hypertrophic cardiomopathy. However, even those with normal coronary arteries can suffer heart attacks.
Do you believe your heart attack was misdiagnosed? Contact our medical malpractice lawyers immediately for your complimentary case review. If you would prefer to speak with someone regarding your case, please call our offices at anytime: 1-800-Attorney (1-800-288-6763)
What happens in a heart attack?
The heart muscle regularly expands and contracts, pushing blood through the body - this is the heart beat. When the muscle expands, blood flows into the heart; when the muscle contracts, blood is pushed out of the heart. This muscle is ordinarily very flexible, but as the muscle ages, it loses its flexibility. Additionally, a film of plaque may build up along the inside of the arteries, decreasing muscle flexibility. As the muscle loses flexibility, the heart can no longer take in and push out an adequate supply of blood, causing low blood oxygen levels and poor circulation throughout the body.
This inability to adequately pump blood through the body leads to the common form of a heart attack. Most people experience pain with a heart attack, usually behind the sternum, radiating through the left shoulder and arm. This type of pain is felt in terms of a burning, pressing, aching, or strong pressure, similar to the pains of gas or indigestion.
Duration of a heart attack can vary from a few minutes to more than fifteen minutes. Longer attacks may ocur after experiencing an extreme emotional outburst, eating a large meal, or by placing extreme stresses on the cardiovascular system.
Heart attacks are often accompanied by several other physical signs, including:
- Difficulty Breathing
- Pale Skin
- Heart Palpitations
- Digestive Disturbances
How are heart attacks diagnosed?
If a heart attack or angina is suspected, a doctor may choose to use blood tests or x-rays to properly evaluate the condition of the heart muscles. An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a heart-monitoring test to measure the strength of the heart beat. An angiogram is an x-ray test to identify blocked arteries. Several other tests are available to evaluate the health and strength of the heart muscle.
Are there different types of heart attacks?
Several types of heart attack diagnosis are possible:
- Stable Angina
- Unstable Angina
- Prinzmetal's Angina
- Nocturnal Angina
- Intractable Angina
- Post-Infarction Angina
How are heart attacks treated?
Four main goals must be addressed in treating heart attacks:
- Relieving acute attacks
- Preventing future attacks
- Preventing coronary artery disease
- Resolving attacks before muscle damage occurs
In treating anginas, medications, lifestyle changes, and regular check-ups are combined into a full treatment plan. Nitroglycerine, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, and antiplatlet drugs may be prescribed for angina patients; lifestyle professionals such as nutritionists and gym trainers may be recommended; and a doctor may enroll a patient weight-loss, smoking cessation, and other healthy living programs.
Where can I find more information?
The internet is a great resource for information about anginas and heart attacks:
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