Most women know the symptoms of a heart attack -- squeezing chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea. But as it turns out, these symptoms are more typical for males. Female heart attacks can be quite different -- and it’s important for all women to learn the warning signs.
Rhonda Monroe's story is a cautionary tale. She was mystified when strong pain struck her left breast and left arm. Monroe, who was a 36-year-old mother of three, didn’t know it at the time, but she was having early symptoms...
What are the results of testing (stress EKG test, stress echocardiography, thallium scan) so far?
These tests measure how the heart responds to increased oxygen
demand (stress test) and how effectively the heart pumps blood, which may help
determine what treatment would be most effective.
The following test results suggest that there is adequate blood
flow to the heart muscle and that medicine may be enough to control symptoms.
Surgery or angioplasty with stenting may be an option but may offer no
additional benefit over medicine and may involve more risk.
The function of
the left ventricle is normal (ejection fraction is greater than
Cardiac perfusion scan results show that blood
to the heart muscle is normal or mildly abnormal (no cold spots or just a
single, small cold spot).
The following findings suggest that the heart muscle is not getting
enough blood or oxygen. Treatment may be needed to prevent permanent heart
muscle damage and reduced heart function.
Exercise stress test results are abnormal
(especially if the person cannot exercise very long).
of the left ventricle is reduced.
Thallium scan shows one or more
large areas of heart muscle that are not getting enough blood (cold
If test results show that large areas of the heart muscle have
already been permanently damaged, surgery or angioplasty with stenting to
restore blood flow may not be needed or helpful.
Treatment also depends on the number of arteries in the heart that are blocked and which arteries are blocked.
Significant blockage in the left main coronary
artery may need bypass surgery.
If 2 to 3 heart arteries are blocked, the
type of treatment will depend on the location and severity of the blockages,
how they are affecting heart function, and how severe a person's symptoms
If only one artery is blocked, medicine or angioplasty may be the best choice.
What are your personal choices about treatment?
Another important consideration is your personal choice. People who
can get information from their doctors about the risks and benefits of their
treatment options are able to make better decisions.
Some people may feel intimidated or afraid to question their
doctor. However, it's very important to understand why your doctor is
recommending a certain treatment and the risks and benefits of that
Other factors that affect the decision include:
Age. Older people, especially those with other
long-term health problems, are at increased risk for surgical
Health status. People with other lifelong health
conditions (such as diabetes or lung or kidney disease), those who have
impaired mental function, and those whose nutritional status is poor also have
a higher risk of surgical complications.
Occupational status. People whose work involves
public safety or responsibility for others' lives may be more likely to get
surgery because it more rapidly lowers their risk of heart attack than medical
treatment, thereby allowing them to resume their work safely.
Primary Medical Reviewer
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology
May 10, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
May 10, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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