What is a Heart Attack?
A heart attack occurs when the coronary arteries cannot deliver oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This often happens because the coronary arteries have developed a buildup of plaque deposits, which cause the arteries to narrow. When the heart is deprived of this much-needed blood, it becomes starved of oxygen and the heart muscle begins to die.
Heart attack patients often need an emergency procedure to reopen the arteries and allow for normal blood flow. Learn more about coronary artery disease and coronary revascularization.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack
See all 20 of our heart healthy video tips from UMMC experts.
Chest pain is the most obvious symptom of a heart attack. However, not everyone experiences chest pain. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack so you can get the help you need. If you feel any sort of chest pain, call 911 immediately. Do not drive yourself to the hospital.
Women often experience heart attacks differently than men do. Learn more about heart care for women in our Women’s Heart Health Program.
Symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Discomfort or heaviness in chest, arm or below the breastbone
- Discomfort in your back, jaw, throat or arm
- A feeling like heartburn
- Sweating, nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeat
Diagnosing a Heart Attack
Time is (heart) muscle, so our heart team works quickly to diagnose a heart attack in order to begin treatment right away. The sooner we begin treatment, the better the outcome for your heart’s function. We use advanced cardiac technology to tell us:
- How much damage occurred
- Where the damage occurred and if any heart structures were damaged
- When the heart attack started
- If medications are working or if we need to perform a catheterization procedure
Learn more about cardiac diagnosis.
Treating Heart Attack at the University of Maryland
At the University of Maryland Heart and Vascular Center, we provide comprehensive, rapid and effective heart care for patients experiencing a heart attack.
Our University of Maryland ExpressCare transport system brings critical care patients to our center for rapid, life-saving care. We are in communication with the ExpressCare team during the transport, so we are ready to deliver treatment the moment you come through the door.
Our heart team has received the Platinum Award for the second year in a row for its sustained excellence in treating heart attack patients. Read about the award and what our team has been doing to to continue to provide fast, excellent care in timely situations.
Watch cardiologist Mark Vesely, MD, explain how your heart functions similarly to a house:
Our heart specialists provide the full spectrum of heart attack treatment. From catheterization procedures to surgery, we offer comprehensive and personalized care. We provide ongoing follow-up care as well, so we can reduce the likelihood of another heart attack or cardiac event. Learn more about:
For more information or to make an appointment, please call 1-800-492-5538.