Heart Attack Prevention and Treatments

If you think you or a loved one is experiencing a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Do not attempt to drive to the hospital.

At CHI Saint Joseph Health, we know what’s at stake during a heart attack. That’s why we’ve brought together the most advanced emergency heart care technology and a dedicated team ready to respond at a moment’s notice.

You and your family can take comfort knowing many of our emergency rooms throughout central Kentucky are nationally certified Chest Pain Centers or ACE-accredited facilities. These distinctions mean we provide fast, effective care at the first signs of a heart attack, when preserving heart muscle is crucial. Through seamless coordination between our emergency physicians and paramedics at the scene, we dramatically reduce the time to treatment—saving many more lives along the way.

Know the Warning Signs of Heart Attack

Around 85% of heart damage occurs within the first two hours of a heart attack, so acting fast when you first notice symptoms is critical. Common symptoms include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort, like pressure, squeezing, burning, aching or tightness
  • Sweating or lightheadedness
  • Pain that travels down your arm(s)
  • Fatigue and/or anxiety
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Shortness of breath

Heart attack symptoms for women can vary from those in men, and may be harder to recognize, including jaw and back pain, as well as nausea and other flu-like symptoms. While more than half of patients experience warning signs, heart attacks can also strike without notice.

There is good news, too. 80 percent of heart-related events can be prevented when you know and control your risk factors. Learn more and how we can help you take control.

Treating Heart Attack

As soon as we determine that it is a heart attack, we start immediate treatment. The specific treatment you receive varies based on several factors, including the type and severity of the attack and other health considerations. It may include on or more of the following:

Medications: You may receive drugs such as anticoagulants, ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, cholesterol-lowering medications, diuretics or vasodilators

Thrombolysis: Doctors inject a clot-dissolving agent into your blood to help reduce blockages and restore blood flow.

Catheterization and balloon angioplasty: Performed in our state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization labs, these procedures use an inflatable balloon-type tool to compress plaque against your artery walls, so blood can flow more freely. 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 via balloon angioplasty, your doctor places the stent in the newly opened artery. The stent helps hold the artery open, allowing blood to flow more freely and reduces the chance that plaque will block the artery again in the future.

Fast Care for STEMI, the Most Severe Heart Attacks

The heart attack specialists at CHI Saint Joseph Health work closely with local paramedics to provide coordinated, rapid-response care to people with signs of the most severe heart attack, known as STEMI (ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction). Our ER receives EKG results sent wirelessly while patients are on the way to the hospital, providing the vital data our physicians need to make a diagnosis. If a patient requires intervention, we can activate our cardiac catheterization team immediately. 

Comprehensive Care After a Heart Attack

CHI Saint Joseph Health’s cardiac rehabilitation programs support a smooth recovery after a heart attack. We provide individualized treatment plans that include exercise, lifestyle modification, education and support so you build up your strength and get your life back to normal.