AP NEWS

Two tests could help your heart health; take action when experiencing chest pains

February 15, 2018

SHREVEPORT, La. - One of the most important things to know are the warning signs of a heart attack, and those heart attack warning signs are different for men and women.

The most common heart attack symptom in both men and women is chest pain or discomfort. But women can have other symptoms including the following:

Discomfort in other areas of the upper body like both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomachShortness of breathBreaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness

Panic attacks have a lot of the same indicators as a heart attack, but knowing the difference should be left up to a professional

If you have any chest discomfort that lasts for a while, call 9-1-1 , get the hospital and get it checked out by a professional. Time is important and could save your life. While you are waiting on an ambulance, chew a regular strength aspirin. It reduces blood clotting, which can help blood flow through a narrowed artery that caused a heart attack. Don’t take an aspirin if you’re allergic to them, have bleeding problems or take another blood thinning medication.

If you have already had a heart attack, you have probably been prescribed nitroglycerin. Take is as prescribed. But most important, never give your nitroglycerin to anyone else.

There are also a couple of important tests. The first called Myocardial Perfusion Imaging Test (MPI Test) or simply a nuclear stress test. It is a non-invasive imaging test that shows how well blood is flowing through your heart muscle. It can show areas that are not getting enough blood flow. It also shows how well your heart is pumping.

Someone who has chest discomfort would undergo an MPI Test. Doctors can see whether the discomfort comes from a lack of blood flow to the heart muscle caused by narrowed or blocked arteries. It can tell your doctors if and how many arteries are blocked. Someone who cannot do a stress test is also likely to take an MPI. A person will be given medication to increase blood flow to the heart as if you were exercising. The test uses radioactive tracers that mix with your blood and then a camera takes pictures to show the flow

A nuclear stress tests can show the following:

a lack of blood flow during exercise or stress but normal at rest, it could mean that an artery is blocked or narrowed.a lack of blood flow during exercise and stress, and while at rest, it could mean that your heart muscle suffered some damage, possibly from an earlier heart attack.

This helps doctors diagnose your treatment whether it is bypass surgery, a stent, or something else.

There is also a test that helps doctors see the blood flow to your brain; it’s called carotid ultra-sound. Doctors say everyone over the age of 50 should undergo to make sure our brain is getting enough blood, because problems with blood flow to your brain could lead to a stroke.

Everyone has two carotid arteries. Each is located on the side of your neck and they deliver blood from your heart to your brain. The ultrasound tests for blocked or narrowed carotid arteries, which can increase your risk of stroke. The arteries are usually narrowed by a build up of plaque, from fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances in the blood stream.

People who have TIA’s, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, family history of stroke or heart disease, coronary artery disease should undergo the painless test. Pictures are produced using sound waves. A small probe is used and some ultrasound gel placed on the skin. There is no radiation exposure. This procedure is great because it captures images in real time so it can show blood flowing.

If doctors find plaque build up in the carotid, often times it is a lifestyle change of diet, quitting smoking and exercise that can shrink and stabilize it. It is a simple test that could prevent you from having a stroke.