If you think you or a loved one is experiencing a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Do not attempt to drive to the hospital.
Each year, about 800,000 Americans have a heart attack, which happens when the blood supply to your heart is cut off. Having a heart attack is a frightening experience, but the good news is about 85 percent of people survive if treated quickly.
At Central Maine Healthcare, we provide fast, life-saving emergency care if you experience the symptoms of a heart attack. Also, if you suffer a heart attack, our full range of rehabilitation care can help restore your quality of life and reduce the chances of having another heart attack.
But we also know the best cure is prevention. As part of our commitment to cardiac and vascular health, we sponsor wellness and prevention programs throughout the region.
Around 85 percent of heart damage occurs within the first two hours of a heart attack, so be sure to call 911 right away if you or someone you’re with shows symptoms of a heart attack.
Certified for Rapid Response: CMMC’s Chest Pain Center
We are proud of the fact that our CMMC Chest Pain Center, which is part of our Emergency Department in Lewiston, is certified for its rapid-response care. If you come in with chest pain, the emergency professionals in our Chest Pain Center provide the immediate care you need. We treat all patients with chest pain as potential cardiac patients until we determine a definite diagnosis.
If you arrive at our Emergency Department with chest pain or other heart attack symptoms, you will be immediately connected to a cardiac monitor, receive oxygen and started on intravenous lines so that life-saving drugs can be administered quickly if needed. Our experienced emergency professionals conduct diagnostic testing to determine what’s causing your symptoms and once your condition is stable, we connect you with one or more cardiologists for possible follow-up care.
Know the Warning Signs of Heart Attack
It’s important to be aware of the signs of heart attack so that if you or someone you’re with is having a heart attack, you can get emergency care as rapidly as possible. Warning signs include:
- Chest pain or discomfort that occurs in the center or left side of the chest; it may last for a few minutes or more or it may come and go
- Pressure or a feeling of squeezing or fullness in the chest
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or your back, neck, stomach or jaw
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat
- Nausea (with or without vomiting)
- Light-headedness or fainting
The signs of heart attack may look different in men than in women. Although men and women may both feel chest pain or pressure, women often don’t have chest pain with a heart attack. Instead, they may have other symptoms, such as shortness of breath or dizziness, that are less commonly associated with heart attack.
Keep in mind that your chance of having a heart attack goes up if you have risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes or if you smoke or have had a previous heart attack or stroke.
Learn How We Provide Diagnosis
To determine whether you’re having a heart attack, our chest pain specialists may conduct one or more of the following tests:
- Blood tests: These tests measure certain enzymes in your blood. For example, high levels of an enzyme known as troponin in the blood can indicate a heart attack has taken place.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG): A test that measures heart rate, monitors the heart’s electrical system and provides images of the heart’s structures, assessing heart and valve health and blood flow.
- Chest X-ray: X-rays may show whether the heart muscle has been damaged.
- Echocardiogram: An ultrasound test that uses sound waves and the echoes they produce to obtain highly detailed images of the walls and chambers of the heart.
- Cardiac stress test (also known as a treadmill test or exercise EKG or ECG): A test that measures how your heart performs in response to exercise or stress. This test monitors blood flow and oxygen levels as your heart beats faster and works harder.
- Nuclear stress test: A test that assesses the blood flow to your heart by taking two sets of pictures of your heart: one set while you’re at rest and the second while your heart is being stressed by exercise, medication or a combination of both. Radioactive material is injected into your vein to highlight healthy and damaged tissue in the pictures.
Get Access to a Range of Treatments
Heart attack treatment varies based on several factors, including the type and severity of the attack and other health considerations. After we determine that you’re having a heart attack, we may provide one or more of the following treatments:
- Medications: Depending on the type and extent of your heart attack, as well as any other health conditions you have, your doctor may prescribe drugs such as anticoagulants, ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, cholesterol-lowering medications, diuretics or vasodilators.
- Thrombolysis: A procedure in which a clot-dissolving agent is injected to restore blood flow in a coronary artery.
- Catheterization and balloon angioplasty: A test in which an inflatable balloon-type tool is used to compress plaque against artery walls, allowing increased blood flow. Balloon angioplasty is performed during a catheterization.
- Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI): Also known as angioplasty and stent treatment, PCI implants a tiny mesh tube in an artery to prevent plaque from blocking the blood vessel. After clearing blockage in an artery, your doctor uses a catheter to place the stent in the newly opened artery. The stent helps hold the artery open and reduces the chance that plaque will block the artery again.
- Coronary artery bypass grafts (CABG): Also known as heart bypass surgery, this procedure is open-heart surgery requiring general anesthesia. During bypass surgery the surgeon removes a piece of a healthy blood vessel from your leg, arm or chest wall to use as a graft to create a new path for blood flow around a blocked artery. One end of the healthy graft is sewn to the blood vessel just below the blocked artery. The other end of the graft is sewn above the blocked artery. Blood can then flow around the blocked area. After bypass surgery, blood moves more freely through the coronary arteries, lowering the risk of heart attack.
Recover with Cardiac Rehabilitation
If you have a heart attack or any other heart conditions, we offer cardiac rehabilitation as part of our Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program. Our cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program that helps you recover with an individualized plan that provides evaluation and instruction on physical activity, nutrition, stress management and other health-related areas as needed. Cardiac rehabilitation can make a significant difference in your quality of life after a heart attack.
- Coronary artery disease
- Coronary artery angioplasty or stents
- Open heart surgery such as coronary bypass or valve surgery
- Heart failure
- Heart transplantation
As a heart attack survivor, you will also be invited to join Mended Hearts™, a patient-run support group affiliated with the American Heart Association that offers support and encouragement through its visiting program, monthly meetings and educational forums. To learn more, call 207-795-8230.