Ask the Cardiologist: What can I expect if I arrive at the hospital with a heart attack?

systolic blood pressureDr. Maciej Malinski is on the medical staff at Sherman Hospital. He has been kind enough to answer some frequently asked questions related to maintaining a healthy heart in his Ask the Cardiologist series. To see all posts Dr. Malinski has written, just type “Ask the Cardiologist” into the search bar on the right.

Q: What should I expect if I arrive at the hospital with heart attack?

A: Heart attack, or myocardial infarction (MI), occurs when an artery in the heart (coronary artery) is closed by a blood clot. The heart muscle cells deprived of oxygen sustain damage. Heart attacks can lead to death or permanent heart damage resulting in malfunction of the heart as the pump. This is what’s known as congestive heart failure.

Myocardial infarction is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention and treatment. Depending on the patient’s medical history, his or her symptoms, and ECG findings, MI is treated with emergent opening of the occluded vessel by performing cardiac catherization and angioplasty with stenting.

Some heart attacks are initially treated medically with medications preventing further build up of the blood clot, and a cardiologist can later decide when the patient will have catherization or if patient will be treated only with medications. At Sherman Hospital, if the patient requires an immediate opening of the occluded artery, then an interventional cardiologist and the team responsible for taking care of the patient are called in.

At Sherman, we have a very high-functioning system of cross coverage for all emergent MIs, which means excellent outcomes for patients. Guidelines allow 90 minutes from the time a patient comes to the ER to the time the occluded artery is open, and at Sherman we average well under 90 minutes. After the procedure, the patient usually stays in the hospital for at least two days while additional tests are done, doses of medications are adjusted, and a rehabilitation plan is established to plan for long term therapy and the road to recovery.

Do you have a question for Dr. Malinski? To submit your question, either post it in the comments section below or email with the subject line “Question for Dr. Malinski.” To schedule the essential (and painless) $79 Healthy Heart CT Scan, click here.

This post is published by Sherman Health to provide general health information. It is not intended to provide personal medical advice, which should be obtained directly from your physician.

About Sherman Health

Sherman Health has provided medical care to Northern IL since 1888, and is currently home to a network of over 600 physicians. The Sherman blogs are edited by me, Luke. Questions? Comments? Links? Email address is luke at shermanhealth dot com.
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