A heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart muscle becomes blocked. The muscle doesn’t receive enough oxygen, which can damage or kill it. The medical term for heart attack is myocardial infarction.
An ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is the most dangerous type of heart attack. It happens when blood flow to the heart is completely blocked. STEMI is sometimes called a “full-blown” heart attack.
Aurora Health Care provides fast, expert heart attack and STEMI care. At 15 locations throughout eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, we treat heart attacks and put you on the road to recovery.
Some people confuse heart attack with sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), but they have different causes. SCA means the heart stops beating because of an electrical problem such as arrhythmia or atrial fibrillation. Heart attack, on the other hand, happens when blood stops flowing to your heart.
Learn more about sudden cardiac arrest.
At Aurora, you can count on personalized, compassionate care from experts in preventing, diagnosing and treating heart attacks.
Some heart attacks are intense and happen suddenly. Others come on slowly.
Receiving treatment as soon as possible for a suspected heart attack can save your life. If you think you may be having a heart attack, call 911 right away.
Some people have a silent – or symptomless – heart attack. This is more likely to happen to people who are elderly, female or diabetic. In these cases, you may not even know you’ve had a heart attack until your doctor discovers it during a routine exam.
Men and women may experience a heart attack differently. The most common heart attack symptoms include:
A heart attack happens when something prevents blood from reaching the heart through one or both of your coronary arteries.
The coronary arteries are the main blood vessels that wrap around the outside of your heart. They supply the heart muscle with oxygen-rich blood.
Several potential problems can cause blood flow to slow or stop:
Many factors can increase your risk of heart attack. Some of them you can’t control, but others you can work to prevent.
Risk factors you can’t change include:
You may be able to control other heart attack risk factors. Talk with your doctor about managing:
When you have a heart attack, everything may seem to happen very quickly. Afterward, you might feel uncertain about all the tests that were performed. These tests help doctors determine what kind of heart attack you had and how severely it affected your heart.
Even before your full diagnosis, we may begin some treatments. Getting care as soon as possible can improve your prognosis. Learn more below about fast treatment for heart attack.
To diagnose a heart attack or STEMI, we might use:
Learn more about heart and vascular diagnosis and testing at Aurora.
If you’ve had a heart attack or warning signs of an approaching heart attack, your doctor can work with you on a treatment plan to protect your health and your future.
After a heart attack, your treatment might include:
After a heart attack, or if you are at risk for a heart attack, your doctor might discuss ways to improve your health, including:
We also offer the largest cardiac rehab program in Wisconsin, available at 14 locations, to get you on the road to recovery in your community. Learn more about cardiac rehabilitation.