• Surviving the widow maker heart attack

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    February 28, 2023
    With a 12 percent survival rate, experiencing a widow maker heart attack can be terrifying and, with time playing a huge role in the survival rate, ensuring you get medical attention can be lifesaving. Cardiologist at the MercyOne Clinton Medical Center, Dr. Ali Albaghdadi, shares the role a bystander plays in the response rate and how early heart attack care saves lives.
    What is the widow maker heart attack?
    “There are three arteries in the heart; one feeds the front wall, one feeds the left wall, and one that feeds the right wall. A widow maker heart attack happens when you have a full blockage in the biggest artery in your heart, the block prevents blood from moving through your left artery, which provides about 66 percent of your heart muscle's blood supply,” he said.
    What are the symptoms?
    “A heart attack and a widow maker heart attack have very similar symptoms:
    • Chest pain,
    • Dizziness, and
    • Shortness of breath.
    “If you are experiencing sudden chest pain that you didn't notice before, shortness of breath or if you were previously able to do physical activities and suddenly it's more difficult, those are cause for concern and you should see your cardiologist to investigate further. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911 and wait for the ambulance. Don’t wait to see if the pain goes away. That's not a great idea because you’re having acute heart attack, call 911 and let the paramedics on the scene start providing care for you,” he said.
    A bystander’s role
    “If you see someone, and it seems that they are having a heart attack, the first thing you should do is call 911 to get them medical attention as soon as possible. If you can, lay them down, make sure they are breathing and feeling well, at least as much as they can be. You're not going to be able to help them very much by giving them aspirin, so your best bet is calling 911,” he said.
    Early heart attack care
    “You can experience heart attack symptoms days and weeks before the actual attack so the primary goal of early heart attack care is to recognize the early signs of a heart attack so that you can act quickly and get treated before the heart is damaged.
    “Do as much as you can to modify your risk factors before you have a heart attack. We want to make sure you know your numbers, keep your blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol regulated. Monitoring your weight is also something you can do to reduce your risk factors along with quitting smoking, eating right and working out,” he said.
    Find out how healthy your own heart is by taking our heart health assessment quiz.
    About MercyOne
    MercyOne is a connected system of health care facilities and services dedicated to helping people and communities live their best life. MercyOne’s care providers and staff make health the highest priority. The system’s clinics, medical centers, hospitals and affiliates are located throughout the state of Iowa and beyond. Headquartered in central Iowa, MercyOne is a member of Trinity Health (based in Livonia, Michigan) – one of the largest not-for-profit Catholic health systems in the nation. Learn more at MercyOne.org

    C. Pamela Glennon, Eastern Iowa Communications Lead
    pamela.glennon@mercyhealth.com, (563) 589-8112