A heart attack (also called myocardial infarction) happens when a blood clot or fatty buildup in a coronary artery blocks the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. This can cause permanent damage to the heart, resulting in disability and or death.
In some cases a heart attack may be caused by a severe artery spasm that can narrow the artery, bringing on a heart attack, but this type of heart attack is much less common.
Find a cardiologist or call The University of Vermont Medical Center at 802-847-4600.
Heart Attack: What You Need to Know
Living a healthy lifestyle can help prevent a heart attack, and it's never too late to start - even if you already had one. Take charge of your health! Lifestyle changes include:
- Quit smoking. The UVM Medical Center offers a quit smoking program.
- Controlling conditions known to contribute to heart attack, such as:
- Being physically active
- Eating healthy foods, such as:
- Lean proteins - fish, chicken, beans
- Keep at a healthy weight
- Minimize and control stress
Partnership saves lives. We developed a regional network to provide advanced care for patients who have suffered a severe heart attack known as an ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). Our STEMI Program is part of the reason that Vermont is among the top five states in the nation for heart attack survival.
The UVM Medical Center is a leader in heart (also called cardiac) care. Fast, effective and scientifically proven care means better outcomes for heart attack patients - and longer, healthier lives for you and those you love. Our highly trained physicians and surgeons have years of experience in the field, and a strong commitment to personalized care.
Experienced, Trusted Expertise
If you or a loved one is having a heart attack, every second counts, and you want to be sure you are in the care of skilled hands. We are Vermont's only tertiary, or advanced-level care center, and a referral center for the region that partners with community hospitals in Vermont and northern New York. We are proud to offer new and groundbreaking treatments, including the use of the gene therapy to treat chest pain caused by coronary artery disease, backed by the latest scientific research, and provided by internationally known experts.
What is a Heart Attack?
Patients suffering from heart attack need emergency, life-saving treatment to open up blockages in their arteries. Each minute the heart is deprived of oxygen increases the chance of disability and death.
Several factors can increase your risk of having a heart attack, including:
- Age: men who are 45 or older and women who are 55 or older
- Smoking (Want to quit smoking?) or breathing secondhand smoke long-term
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol or triglyceride levels
- Family history: brother or sister, parent or grandparent who've had a heart attack
- Physical inactivity
- Use of illegal drugs that stimulate such as cocaine or amphetamines
Signs of a Heart Attack
The signs of a heart attack may be different depending on whether you're a man or woman.
Signs of a heart attack in men:
- Moderate to severe chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Radiating pain in the arms and chest
Signs of a heart attack in women:
- Pain in the:
- Possibly no chest pain
- Shortness of breath
It is also surprisingly common for people to experience no symptoms at all. This is especially true of diabetics and those over the age of 75. We recommend that these individuals visit their family physician and/or cardiologist on a regular basis to continually monitor their health.
Do not ignore the signs of a heart attack. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1 because it is quite possibly signaling a heart attack.
Heart Attack Diagnosis and Treatment
You and your primary care physician should be keeping an eye on your heart attack risk factors. However, if you have a heart attack, or think you're having one, you're most likely going to be diagnosed in an emergency situation.
We lead the nation in the rapid treatment of severe heart attack with life-saving treatment. The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend that patients with severe heart attack receive treatment to open blocked arteries - such as balloon angioplasty or stenting in a cardiac catheterization lab - within 90 minutes of first arriving at a hospital. The time between when the patient first arrives at the community hospital's emergency room and their blocked arteries are opened is known as "door-to-balloon" time. Our average door-to-balloon time is 65 minutes, which means we save more patients than the national average.
The UVM Medical Center's physicians are highly trained in diagnosing and treating heart attacks. Our knowledgeable doctors perform approximately 4,300 cardiac catheterization lab procedures annually.
Learn more about heart attack treatment.
Request an appointment online with a cardiologist at The UVM Medical Center, find a physician or call 802-847-4600.
Partnerships Save Lives
The UVM Medical Center's STEMI Program is part of the reason that Vermont is in the top 20% in the country for survival after a heart attack.