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Heart attack - what to ask your doctor

What to ask your doctor about your heart attack

 

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a part of your heart is blocked for a period of time and a part of the heart muscle is damaged. It is also called a myocardial infarction (MI).

Angina is pain or pressure in the chest. It occurs when your heart muscle is not getting enough blood or oxygen. You may feel angina in your neck or jaw. Sometimes you may notice that you are short of breath.

Below are some questions you may want to ask your health care provider to help you take care of yourself after a heart attack.

Questions

 

What are the signs and symptoms that I am having angina? Will I always have the same symptoms?

  • What are the activities that can cause me to have angina?
  • How should I treat my chest pain or angina when it happens?
  • When should I call the doctor?
  • When should I call 911?

How much activity is ok for me?

  • Can I walk around the house? Is it ok to go up and down stairs? When can I start light housework or cooking? How much can I lift or carry? How much sleep do I need?
  • Which activities are better to start with? Are there activities that are not safe for me?
  • Is it safe for me to exercise on my own? Should I exercise inside or outside?
  • How long and how hard can I exercise?

Do I need to have a stress test? Do I need to go to a cardiac rehabilitation program?

When can I return to work? Are there limits on what I can do at work?

What should I do if I feel sad or very worried about my heart disease?

How can I change the way I live to make my heart healthier?

  • What is a heart-healthy diet? Is it ok to ever eat something that is not heart healthy? How can I make heart-healthy choices when I go eat out?
  • Is it OK to drink alcohol? How much?
  • Is it OK to be around other people who are smoking?
  • Is my blood pressure normal?
  • What is my cholesterol? Do l need to take medicines for it?

Is it OK to be sexually active? Is it safe to use sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra), or tadalafil (Cialis) for erection problems?

What medicines am I taking to treat angina?

  • Do they have any side effects?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?
  • Is it ever safe to stop taking any of these medicines on my own?

If I am taking a blood thinner such as aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), can I use medicines such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) for arthritis, headaches, or other pain problems?

 

 

References

Anderson JL. St segment elevation acute myocardial infarction and complications of myocardial infarction. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 73.

Morrow DA, Boden WE. Stable ischemic heart disease. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 10th ed. Philadelphia PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 54.

Smith Jr SC, Benjamin EJ, Bonow RO, et al. AHA/ACCF secondary prevention and risk reduction therapy for patients with coronary and other atherosclerotic vascular disease: 2011 update: a guideline from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology Foundation endorsed by the World Heart Federation and the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011;58(23):2432-2446. PMID: 22055990 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22055990.

 
  • Coronary artery disease

    Coronary artery disease

    Animation

  •  

    Coronary artery disease - Animation

    The coronary arteries supply blood to the heart muscle itself. Damage to or blockage of a coronary artery can result in injury to the heart. Normally, blood flows through a coronary artery unimpeded. However, if the inner wall of a coronary artery becomes damaged, cholesterol plaque can build-up, progressively narrowing the available pathway through which blood can flow. Clotted blood attempting to traverse the blood vessel may find it tortuous and too narrow for passage, and the artery may become completely constricted or blocked-off. The blocked artery results in a lack of oxygen, or ischemia, to the part of the heart muscle that the artery supplies. The result is a heart attack.

  • Acute MI

    Acute MI - illustration

    A heart attack or acute myocardial infarction (MI) occurs when one of the arteries that supplies the heart muscle becomes blocked. Blockage may be caused by spasm of the artery or by atherosclerosis with acute clot formation. The blockage results in damaged tissue and a permanent loss of contraction of this portion of the heart muscle.

    Acute MI

    illustration

  • Coronary artery disease

    Animation

  •  

    Coronary artery disease - Animation

    The coronary arteries supply blood to the heart muscle itself. Damage to or blockage of a coronary artery can result in injury to the heart. Normally, blood flows through a coronary artery unimpeded. However, if the inner wall of a coronary artery becomes damaged, cholesterol plaque can build-up, progressively narrowing the available pathway through which blood can flow. Clotted blood attempting to traverse the blood vessel may find it tortuous and too narrow for passage, and the artery may become completely constricted or blocked-off. The blocked artery results in a lack of oxygen, or ischemia, to the part of the heart muscle that the artery supplies. The result is a heart attack.

  • Acute MI

    Acute MI - illustration

    A heart attack or acute myocardial infarction (MI) occurs when one of the arteries that supplies the heart muscle becomes blocked. Blockage may be caused by spasm of the artery or by atherosclerosis with acute clot formation. The blockage results in damaged tissue and a permanent loss of contraction of this portion of the heart muscle.

    Acute MI

    illustration

A Closer Look

 

Talking to your MD

 

Self Care

 

Tests for Heart attack - what to ask your doctor

 

 

Review Date: 1/1/2017

Reviewed By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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