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Every year, thousands of people throughout Pennsylvania — and many more across the nation — endure unimaginable pain and fear due to the onset of a sudden heart attack. The good news is that thanks to medical advancements, the proper treatment administered in the proper timeframe can greatly reduce the risk of a heart attack causing serious or even fatal damage.
The bad news, however, is that doesn’t always happen for a variety of reasons, including unnecessary delays or even medical mistakes on the part of hospital staff.
In the interests of helping people understand and appreciate the risks posed by heart attacks and the need to secure timely treatment, the next few posts will provide some basic background information about this condition, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says affects 715,000 Americans each year.
Heart attack: A definition
In general, a heart attack occurs when the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart muscle is either reduced considerably or stopped altogether. This can be attributed to the narrowing or blocking of the coronary arteries, which supply oxygenated blood to the heart muscle.
The typical symptoms of a heart attack
In general, people experiencing a heart attack report feeling a sensation of discomfort or even outright pain in the center of their chest. This condition, known as angina, has also been described as a sort of burning, tightness or heaviness in the chest that recedes and reappears, or which lasts for quite some time.
Other reported symptoms include pain and/or discomfort in other areas of the body (left shoulder, neck, etc.), shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness and irregular heartbeats to name only a few.
It is worth noting that women sometimes experience different heart attack symptoms that are somewhat more vague or atypical, including bouts of fatigue, upper back pain, jaw-related pain and light-headedness.
In our next post, we’ll discuss why it so imperative to secure treatment as soon as possible if you believe you are having a heart attack and why people sometimes delay doing this
Consider speaking with an experienced and dedicated attorney if you believe that you or a loved one suffered irreparable harm because of the misdiagnosis of a heart attack.
Sources: The Cleveland Clinic, “What are the symptoms of a heart attack?” Accessed September 22, 2014; The American Heart Association, “About heart attacks,” Accessed September 22, 2014