Over the past decade cardiologists in Jamaica have noticed an increase in the number of patients presenting in the emergency room with a heart attack. The patients are also younger.
A heart attack occurs when the coronary arteries that feed the heart becomes clogged or blocked by fatty build up and blood clots cutting off oxygen supply to the heart, thus killing heart muscles. This is known as coronary artery disease.
The person experiencing a heart attack may complain of the following:
- Chest pain or discomfort – Something heavy sitting on the chest. The sensation may last for a few minutes then disappear only to return again
- Feelings of nausea – ‘Feel bad’, vomiting, sweating or even fainting
- Pain radiating from arm to the neck
- Uncomfortable feeling in the stomach, neck, jaw or in the arms
If you suspect that you or a loved one may be having a heart attack; DO NOT WAIT IT OUT!! Take the person to a Hospital IMMEDIATELY. Jamaicans tend to wait out pain and discomfort drinking mint or ginger tea or by taking pepper mint. If it is in the middle of the night, do not wait until morning take the patient to the hospital. Let the doctors tell you its gas, because if it is not gas but a heart attack it could mean the death of yourself or your loved one.
At the Hospital the treatment for a heart attack will take the form of medication initially as the doctors seek to alleviate the discomfort. So you can expect to get aspirin, pain killers, (anti sickness /”feel bad”) medication. Expect to do blood tests and an electrocardiogram (ECG); this usually confirms the presence of a heart attack. They will also put up a slow IV line (a drip) on you with thrombolytic medication. All this does is break down the clot in the coronary artery. The sooner this is done the better the patient’s chance of having a full recovery.
After The Emergency Room
In the days following the attack if there is complications such as abnormal heart rhythms you might have to wear a pacemaker.
Further tests will be done for the doctors to decide how much block is in the affected coronary artery. The more blocked the artery is the more narrowed it is increasing your chance for another attack. A stress test will therefore be done. This is simply exercise on a treadmill with a physician and his assistant monitoring your ECG reading and assessing how long you can go without getting chest pain or any discomfort.
If there is narrowing an angiogram will be done in the X-ray department if there is significant blockage the patient may need to undergo coronary angioplasty which is a non surgical procedure. Stents (narrow mesh tubes) are implanted in the narrowed arteries after squishing the plaque with an inflated balloon to widen the vessel. Patients will be asked to purchase the stents
Whenever there is a significant amount of plaques in the vessels or coronary arteries then the patient might have to do surgery. This procedure is known as Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), you will over hear your medical personnel refer to it as a “cabbage’. This procedure is an open heart procedure. Your physicians may ask you or your relatives to purchase the open heart kit for the procedure. A CABG involves making a new path for the blood to flow around the affected/blocked coronary artery. The surgeons essentially create a new vessel by using veins from your legs.
Patients should know that stents and open heart kits are sold external to the hospital and often times at a more reasonable cost. Therefore for an elective surgery; like anything else shop around.
CARDIOVMEDS will contact and deliver directly to your physician to ensure we get what is best for you without your family members being hassled.
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