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Warning Signs: What Your Heart Is Telling You

What is a heart attack?

heart attack occurs when the muscle of the heart is damaged. The medical term for a heart attack is a myocardial infarction. All muscles in the human body require oxygen to function. A heart attack/myocardial infarction occurs when the heart muscle does not get enough oxygen.

The coronary arteries are responsible for the delivery of oxygen to the heart muscle. When these arteries become severely blocked or narrowed, they restrict the flow of oxygen to the heart. The result may be a heart attack.

What are the symptoms of a heart attack?

The symptoms of a heart attack vary, but are most commonly described as a squeezing, burning, tightness, fullness, or pressure across the chest. This discomfort may radiate to the shoulder, arms (especially the left), neck, jaw, teeth, earlobes, as well as the upper back between the shoulder blades. Numbness or tingling in the arms or hands may occur. Other symptoms include nausea and vomiting, sweating, palpitations, dizziness, and perhaps loss of consciousness.

Can changing my diet reduce risk of a Heart Attack?

Your dietary habits affect your risk of heart disease. Modifying your diet to control weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels is a critical component of a healthy heart lifestyle.

Can exercise help prevent heart disease?

Exercise is a proven combatant of certain coronary risk factors and a critical part of a successful recovery from open heart surgery. Our healthy heart exercise program takes you step-by-step through a typical post-operative exercise program, both within the hospital and without. Included are diagrams of exercises and activity timetables to help ensure an intelligent and beneficial program. An examination of exertion levels needed for various activities and instructions on taking your pulse are helpful for anyone, regardless of the health of your heart.

What are the warning signs of heart problems after surgery?

You should call your doctor immediately if you notice any of the following which may be signs of heart problems:

  • Weight Gain – You gain more than 3 pounds in one day or 5 pounds in one week. Weigh yourself every day.
  • Chills or Fever – You have chills, sweating, or a fever over 100 degrees for more than a day.
  • Irregular Heart Beats – Your heart seems to be beating fast or slow, or skipping beats.
  • Trouble Breathing – You have shortness of breath while resting.
  • Chest or Shoulder Pain – You have pain or tightness in your chest or shoulder that worsens with deep breathing or coughing.
  • Swelling around Incision – You have swelling, redness, oozing, or tenderness around your chest incision.
  • Bleeding – You have unexplained bruising or bleeding.

What about sex after heart surgery?

Unless your doctor advises otherwise, you can resume having sex as soon as you feel comfortable. Try to avoid positions that put pressure on your breastbone or upper arms until your breastbone heals. For more information, see the Post-Operative Information page.

Texas Surgical Associates