Can You Survive a Heart Attack?

Reviewed on 1/26/2022

Man clutching his heart as a woman holds him upright
Most people hospitalized with a heart attack survive, but the risk of dying from a heart attack increases if a person has had a previous heart attack.

A heart attack (also called myocardial infarction or MI), happens when blood flow from the coronary arteries to the heart is reduced or blocked completely. When this occurs, the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen and nutrients, causing damage to the heart. 

Each year in the United States, about 805,000 people are hospitalized with a heart attack, and most of them — 90 to 97 percent — survive. 

However, the risk of dying from a heart attack increases if a person has had a previous heart attack. The greatest risk of an early recurrent heart attack tends to occur in the first two weeks following the initial heart attack. 

What Are Symptoms of a Heart Attack?

A heart attack is a medical emergency. If you think you might be having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. Do not drive yourself to the hospital.

Symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain (angina
    • May be sudden 
    • Lasts for more than a few minutes
    • May go away and come back
    • May feel like 
      • Squeezing or fullness
      • Mild chest pressure or discomfort
      • Heartburn
  • Pain, tingling, or discomfort in other areas of the body
    • One or both arms
    • Back
    • Neck
    • Jaw
    • Stomach
  • Shortness of breath (may occur with or without chest pain)
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Cold sweats/clammy skin
  • Racing or irregular heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Belching
  • Heartburn
  • Back or jaw pain

The most common symptom of a heart attack in both men and women is chest pain, however, women are more likely to experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

How Is a Heart Attack Diagnosed?

If a heart attack is suspected, it is diagnosed with a patient history and physical exam along with diagnostic tests such as:

What Is the Treatment for a Heart Attack?

A heart attack is a medical emergency. If you have symptoms of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital’s emergency department immediately. Do not attempt to drive yourself. 

A heart attack is treated in a hospital’s emergency department and treatment may include:

A coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) is a surgical treatment for a heart attack in which a blocked coronary artery is bypassed using a healthy blood vessel from another part of the body. 

QUESTION

In the U.S., 1 in every 4 deaths is caused by heart disease. See Answer

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Reviewed on 1/26/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/warning-signs-of-a-heart-attack

https://www.heart.org/en/news/2021/08/02/dangers-of-life-threatening-second-heart-attack-may-be-highest-soon-after-the-first

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/heart-attack-the-basics?search=What%20Are%20The%204%20Signs%20of%20An%20Impending%20Heart%20Attack%3F&source=search_result&selectedTitle=2~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=2

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/what-can-go-wrong-after-a-heart-attack-the-basics?search=What%20Are%20The%204%20Signs%20of%20An%20Impending%20Heart%20Attack%3F&topicRef=15786&source=see_link

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5459400/

https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

https://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(10)00736-9/fulltext

https://www.wjgnet.com/1949-8462/full/v9/i5/407.htm