Life-saving heart attack treatment close to home

Heart attack—the words alone are frightening. If you or a loved one had a heart attack or you have been told you’re at risk, the right care at the right time can save your life and help prevent further damage.

Five of our Kansas City hospitals are accredited by the Society of Chest Pain Centers. This means that our hospitals use cutting-edge technology and a proven team-based approach to provide efficient, effective and coordinated care for the best possible outcomes.

At our chest pain centers, interventional cardiologists from the HCA Midwest Health Heart & Vascular Institute and cardiac catheterization lab, along with emergency personnel team up to offer a level of care that is unmatched in the region. In fact, no one in the area opens clogged arteries faster than our Kansas City cardiology team. That’s a life-saving difference.

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Heart Attack Symptoms

Heart attacks don’t always feel the same. Symptoms can be mild or severe, and can strike suddenly or build over time. The most common symptom in both men and women is chest pain, but not everyone who has a heart attack experiences it. And, chest pain can feel different for different people. Many people think they have indigestion or some other minor ailment. Signs of a heart attack can include:

  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Pain in the back, jaw, and other areas of the upper body (The pain might go away and come back)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach or throwing up)
  • Anxiety or a sense of dread
  • A cough
  • Dizziness
  • A fast heart rate

It’s not uncommon for women to have no chest pain. Many women have more subtle symptoms such as:

  • Pain in the jaw or upper back
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Light-headedness

Life-saving Emergency Heart Care

What percent of all heart attack victims delay getting help by more than two hours?

What percent of heart attack patients put off medical attention by six hours or more?

A heart attack is an emergency. And treatment is time sensitive. Your chance of survival dramatically increases if the blockage is cleared within 90 minutes. That’s why it is so important to recognize the signs of a heart attack and call 911 (so treatment can begin on the way to the hospital) or head to the closest ER. Trying to self-diagnose can be dangerous and very costly.

HCA Midwest Health has 10 emergency rooms and the largest network of accredited chest pain centers in the KC area. That means you are never far from life-saving care. Being treated at one of our chest pain centers increases your chance of surviving a heart attack by more than 35 percent. None of the other Kansas City heart hospitals open up clogged arteries faster than we do. And that’s important when minutes count to avoid heart damage.

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Heart Attack Treatment

At the hospitals and ERs of HCA Midwest Health, we believe that each and every patient deserves the best possible care. That’s why we use proven chest pain management procedures and best practices to save time and ensure all our patients receive quality and timely cardiac care they need.

Our five chest pain centers offer emergency heart care 24/7. Our top interventional cardiologists perform life-saving angioplasties in our state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization labs. An angioplasty is a catheter based procedure where a tiny balloon is expanded to open narrowed/blocked arteries in your heart and improve blood flow. The balloon and catheter are then removed. In many cases, the doctor will also place a stent (a small mesh-like device made of metal) to support the artery and keep it open. Our Kansas City chest pain centers routinely exceed the national quality goal of a door-to-balloon time under 90 minutes.

Depending on your condition, other immediate treatments may include:

  • Clot-busting medicines – Also called thrombolytic medicines, clot busters dissolve a blood clot blocking an artery
  • Bypass grafting – Commonly called a bypass, this procedure uses an artery or vein from another part of your body to go around the blockage

Recovery and Follow-up Care

After emergency heart attack treatment is complete, patients will usually receive any necessary medications and undergo additional tests to measure the extent of damage. Your Kansas City cardiologist may prescribe:

  • Anticlotting (antiplatelet) medicines – to help keep blood from clotting in the artery and the stent
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) – to help reduce blood pressure and the stress on the heart (especially if it is weaker from the heart attack)
  • Beta-blockers – to help reduce blood pressure and slow heart rate to assist healing
  • Statins – to help lower cholesterol and prevent plaque from forming

Our inpatient cardiac rehabilitation specialists will explain their procedure and provide education about lifestyle changes and medications. Depending on severity, patients are usually discharged within two days. Patients will likely be referred to a cardiologist (if you don’t have one already) and outpatient cardiac rehabilitation for two to four weeks. During outpatient cardiac rehab patients will learn heart attack prevention, exercises and lifestyle skills.

Learn more about Cardiac Rehab in KC  

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Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack?

Most heart attacks are the result of cardiovascular disease, the build-up of a fatty substance called plaque in your heart’s arteries. When plaque builds up in any artery in your body, it’s called atherosclerosis. Plaque can block an artery over time, or a piece could break off and cause a blood clot that blocks the artery.

You might be at risk for a heart attack if you:

  • Are older than 45 for men or 55 for women
  • Have a family member who has had a heart attack
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Eat a lot of salt or fat, especially saturated or trans fat
  • Are overweight
  • Don’t get much exercise
  • Use tobacco
  • Use cocaine or other illegal drugs
  • Are under great stress
  • Have high blood sugar or diabetes

If you have any of these risk factors, your doctor can help you take steps to prevent heart problems.

5 Heart Attack Risks You Rarely Hear About