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Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest in Men

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How are heart attacks and cardiac arrest treated?

Obviously, anyone who's having a heart attack or cardiac arrest needs emergency treatment. You need emergency help if you have symptoms such as any of the following:

  • Pain, squeezing, or discomfort in the chest
  • Pain that radiates into the arms, shoulders, neck, or jaw
  • Shortness of breath, sweating, and nausea
  • Racing heartbeat accompanied by dizziness or nausea
  • Unconsciousness

But what happens after emergency treatment? Unfortunately, if you have a heart attack, you're at higher risk of having more of them as well as having a stroke. If you have had one clot in your body, that almost certainly means that arteries elsewhere have blockages that could trigger clots. So you'll probably need ongoing treatment.

There are a lot of options. Depending on your case, your doctor might recommend blood thinners -- drugs that reduce your blood's tendency to clot. Other drugs can open up your blood vessels, easing your heart's workload. Stents can be surgically implanted to open up a clogged artery. More involved surgery, such as a bypass, can re-channel blood flow away from clogged arteries to new ones. Pacemakers can keep your heart rhythm steady, and ICDs (implantable cardiac defibrillators) can shock an abnormal rhythm back to normal.

What else do I need to know about heart attacks and cardiac arrest?

Being healthy doesn't mean you have to give up everything. You can still order a burger and fries sometimes -- you just can't do it all the time. There's even some fun stuff that may be good for you. Studies suggest, for instance, that one or two beers or glasses of wine a night could reduce your odds of a heart attack.

Second, not taking care of yourself may make your life not only shorter but a heck of a lot worse. A heart attack can start you down a bad path. It injures the tissue, which reduces the heart's ability to pump and can lead to further problems -- strokes, cardiac arrest, and more heart attacks. You could face many years of suffering and disability before you finally die. While we have good treatments for even the gravest heart conditions, it's so much better if you prevent things from getting to that point.

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