Preventing and Treating Heart Attack

Heart attacks don’t always happen like you see in the movies. You may not experience sudden, crushing chest pain. In fact, sometimes—especially for women—you may not experience any chest pain at all. For the sake of your heart, familiarize yourself with common heart attack symptoms so you can seek help immediately.

The most common symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Any upper body pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath

Other symptoms may include jaw pain, fatigue, nausea, sweating and sudden dizziness. Studies have shown that heart attack symptoms in women often differ from those in men.

Heart attack symptoms: Time is muscle

A heart attack means that something is blocking the flow of blood and oxygen to and from your heart. If you or a loved one may be having a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Do not attempt to drive to the hospital. By calling 911, the hospital can better prepare for your arrival by activating a team that can reestablish flow to your heart muscle quickly. The sooner you seek medical help, the higher the chances of a successful treatment.

Studies have shown that opening up the blockage within 90 minutes reduces damage to the heart muscle. Our cardiologists are able to open the blockage within 90 minutes on almost 100 percent of our patients.

Heart attack treatment: What to expect

Here’s what you can expect at the hospital. We will:

  1. Take you to a specially equipped room called a cardiac catheterization suite, where you’ll be treated by an interventional cardiologist, a heart specialist who treats patients having a heart attack or are at high risk for one.
  2. Study your vascular health (blood vessels) using thin tubes called catheters and imaging to determine if you have blocked arteries.
  3. Decide whether to perform a further procedure called an angioplasty. An angioplasty uses a balloon to open the blocked arteries supplying blood to your heart. We may also insert a stent to help the arteries stay open.
  4. Refer you to a cardiac surgeon, if necessary. Learn more about heart and chest surgery.

Heart attack prevention

Whether you’ve had a heart attack or you’re at high risk, prevention is crucial to preserving your heart muscle and function:

  • Live a heart-healthy lifestyle, including following a healthy diet, losing weight, staying active and quitting smoking. Learn more about our ongoing support and resources, designed to promote optimal heart health.
  • Manage related conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Find a cardiologist near you

From Burien and Tacoma to the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas, you’ll find a CHI Franciscan cardiologist who’s right for you. Find a cardiologist near you.