Expert Insights on Preventing Another Heart Attack


Helga Van Herle, MD, MS, FACC

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Surviving a heart attack can be a wake-up call; patients need to adopt new lifestyle patterns and get used to taking medications. All this change can be challenging, but with the right information and support, you can prevent another heart attack and live a healthier life. Cardiologist Helga Van Herle, MD, MS, FACC, explains what she tells her patients about living a heart-healthy life after a heart attack.

1. Q: What happens in the body during a heart attack?

A: During a heart attack, an area of the heart muscle isn’t getting enough blood flow and is deprived of oxygen. That’s usually because there’s a blockage, or clot, inside the artery that provides blood to that part of the heart. Most of the time, people will feel chest pain and discomfort during a heart attack, although symptoms can vary. Women tend to have different symptoms than men; they might feel pain in the neck, jaw, back, and abdominal area, as well as nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and sometimes severe sweating. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, don’t hesitate—call 911 or get to an emergency clinic as soon as you can. Getting treatment in a timely fashion prevents heart muscle damage. The earlier patients are treated, the better outcomes they have.

You'll probably have a lot of questions after a heart attack. Watch this video to learn more about the recovery process.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Feb 1, 2018

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