In this article, you’ll learn and discover how to diagnose a heart attack.
A heart attack occurs when an artery supplying blood to the heart is blocked by a blood clot, causing the death of a segment of the heart’s muscle. The blockage of the artery can either be partial or complete. Identifying the symptoms and getting a timely diagnosis might increase one’s chances of survival and recovery.
The signs of an impending heart attack usually vary from one person to the other. In some, there may be clear tell-tale signs of the condition, and in others, it may be very subtle and barely noticeable, easily confused with indigestion. The most unfortunate ones have no symptoms at all until they experience loss of heart function (cardiac arrest).
There will often be warning signs hours or even days in advance. The most notable sign is recurrent chest pressure that comes and goes in waves. In extreme cases, especially with activity, it becomes a sudden, sharp pain in the chest called angina.
Other common signs of a heart attack include:
- nausea and vomiting
- a sudden feeling of lightheadedness
- a strange pain starting from the chest and radiating down the left side of the body
- sudden development of gasping or choking while asleep
- heart palpitations among others
According to a cardiologist in Frisco, TX, any of these symptoms should be examined by an experienced cardiologist in your area. Do not waste time. Make sure you see a doctor immediately.
The physical examination and lab tests carried out are not only meant to diagnose the heart attack but also discover the level of severity. According to an expert cardiologist in Frisco, TX, some of the tests carried out by a cardiologist include cardiac biomarkers, electrocardiograms, and imaging studies. When the heart is stressed or damaged, cardiac biomarkers are released into the bloodstream.
These substances act as measurable indicators of the heart’s level of functionality and depending on the timing and the amount in the blood, it can confirm a heart attack. Some of the blood tests used to test for a heart attack include:
Creatinine Kinase (CK-MB) Test
This test measures an enzyme specific to the heart
This test is the most sensitive blood test for detecting a heart attack, among others
The electrocardiogram (ECG) is a device used to measure the electrical activity of the heart. It produces a graph of the voltage generated by the heartbeat. Electrical nodes, each reading something specific are placed on a patient’s chest and limbs, where changes in the normal ECG pattern are recorded and depending on the affected impulses, are used to identify the specific cardiac abnormality. The ECG can not only confirm the diagnosis but also inform the cardiologist which kind of heart attack one is having.
The different techniques of imaging can describe the extent of the heart damage in detail and even the nature of the blockage. The chest x-ray will produce a two-dimensional image of the heart and blood vessels and an echocardiogram will create video images, enabling cardiologists to study the pumping actions of the heart and the flow of blood. A CT scan combines two-dimensional images of the heart to form a three-dimensional output, while an MRI scan though similar to the CT scan is much more powerful capturing even the soft tissues.
There are many ailments and diseases that can be mistaken for a heart attack. In some, the difference is so subtle that a series of tests are required to tell them apart. This systematic process of elimination is referred to as a differential diagnosis. Some ailments that require differential diagnosis include panic attacks, aortic dissection, costochondritis, and pneumonia among others.