Each year, an estimated 610,000 Americans have their first heart attack. Another 325,000 people will have a recurrent attack. In these life-threatening emergencies, it’s good to know that rapid, advanced expertise is in your own backyard. Carolinas HealthCare System’s Chest Pain Network has nine accredited Chest Pain Centers dedicated to rapid delivery of care for patients having a heart attack. In fact, we are 18 minutes faster than the national average at treating heart attacks.* And, when you are having a heart attack, every minute counts.
What Causes a Heart Attack?
A heart attack occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a portion of the heart is blocked. In people with coronary artery disease, a buildup of a fatty substance called plaque within artery walls leads to the development of atherosclerosis, stiffening and narrowing of the arteries. When a piece of plaque ruptures, a blood clot forms inside the artery, stopping blood flow to that portion of the heart, which then quickly begins to die . Oftentimes, if not treated immediately, this can be life-threatening or can severely weaken the heart forever.
What Are the Risk Factors?
The main risk factors for heart attack include:
While the average age for a heart attack is about 64 years for men and 70 years for women, men over age 45 and women over age 55 have an increased risk.
What Are the Symptoms?
The most common symptoms of a heart attack are sudden pain or discomfort in the chest; pain in the arms, shoulders, neck, jaw or upper abdomen; and shortness of breath. Not all heart attacks come on suddenly or with dramatic symptoms. Sometimes symptoms develop slowly over several hours, or come and go. Many women feel the pain of a heart attack in the upper body rather than in the chest.
Immediate Care When You Need It
Every second counts, and those arriving at a Carolinas HealthCare System hospital can take comfort in knowing they’ll receive the most skilled care in the fastest time possible, increasing their odds of survival and full recovery. Carolinas HealthCare System’s “door-to-balloon time” – the speed it takes to open the blocked artery, thereby providing potentially lifesaving care – averages less than 45 minutes*, well below the national 90-minute clinical guideline, and is accompanied by a 6 percent** reduction in the number of deaths from heart attack.
*Source - Mission: Lifeline Receiving Center report and ACTION Registry – Get With The Guidelines® data from Q2, 2013.