The three biggest lies about heart attacks in Kingston, New York.

Misconceptions are plentiful on almost every topic you can imagine, and that is especially so when it comes to medicine. The three biggest lies (you might call them "misconceptions") about heart attacks might prevent you from getting medical treatment that you need to avoid a heart attack.  Ignore the "three big lies" at your peril.  Here they are.

Big Lie #1 about Heart Attacks

There are three big, fat lies about the warning signs of a heart attack. Let's begin with big, fat lie #1: "I am feeling much better now."  You think that just because you are feeling better after an episode of chest pain that you have nothing to worry about and you might even delay going to the doctor.  Au contraire, my friend!

Feeling better means nothing when you have coronary artery disease (a blockage of the arteries that supply blood to your heart).  Here's how coronary artery disease works: fatty substances known as "plaque" build up over years on the inner lining of the arteries leading to your heart. The plaque on the inner lining of your arteries is the build up of cholesterol.  As the inner lining of your arteries narrows, it becomes more difficult for blood to pass through them.

Plaque can break off the inner lining of your artery and the dislodged plaque can get stuck in your coronary artery to make the opening even more narrow.  When there is a 99% blockage of the blood flowing through the coronary artery, there is virtually no blood supplied to the heart from that artery and that can lead to temporary chest pain.  When this occurs, you can have chest pain or heaviness that sometimes radiates to your jaw and left arm. The sensation of heaviness feels as though you have a weight sitting on your chest and is often accompanied by shortness of breath.

Often, the plaque breaks free from the inner lining of your coronary artery and your artery is temporarily cleared of the blockage.  This relieves your pain...at least for the moment.  You suddenly return to your usual state of great health and think you have little to worry about.  Don't get caught in this lie!  You are the proverbial ticking time bomb just waiting to explode. 

As soon as another piece of the plaque is dislodged from the inner lining of your artery, you may have another 99% blockage of the artery and this time the plaque might not come free on its own. Now, you've done it!  You are facing "acute coronary syndrome", a fancy term meaning the sudden onset of a heart attack (acute myocardial infarction), which can lead to death.

How do you avoid BIG LIE #1?  Just because you are feeling better after an episode of chest pain does not mean anything.  Don't buy into this lie!  Get checked out immediately at a hospital.

Big Lie #2 about Heart Attacks

Some health care practitioners (not good one's) believe that a normal set of vital signs at an office visit is a sign that you are not at risk of having a heart attack.   Don't buy into this lie!

Vital signs consist of your blood pressure, pulse (heart rate), respiratory rate and temperature.  When you have an episode of chest pain or heaviness, your pulse rate will quicken and you will breath rapidly.  It's not tough to tell you're having a bad day at the office.  You look like a mess when chest pain hits.

But what happens when your chest pain goes away?  You got it--your vital signs return to normal.  It means nothing that your vital signs are normal when you visit your doctor after an episode of chest pain.  Your vital signs will remain normal until your next episode of chest pain and by then, it could be too late for you.  

If you are feeling fine and your vital signs are normal after an episode of chest pain, you're not okay.  Don't buy into big, fat lie #2.

Big Lie #3 about Heart Attacks

What if your doctor tells you that your EKG is normal?  Should you still worry about a heart attack?  It is normal for your EKG to return to normal after an episode of chest pain--in fact, it would expected to return to normal. 

The fact that your EKG is normal does not mean you can go home and put on a happy face.  An EKG will reveal the signs of a heart attack when you are having the heart attack, but it is often normal after an episode of temporary chest pain.  Don't be fooled!  A normal EKG is not a basis to rule out coronary artery disease or that you will not have a heart attack.

What you can do to avoid the big lies about heart attacks

The best thing you can do if you have chest pain or heaviness that is unusual or unexpected is simple: call 911 or go to the nearest hospital right away!  Time is the enemy.  Better safe than sorry (enough platitudes). The hospital care-providers can give you medications that you will almost immediately open your coronary arteries and reduce the demands of your heart for oxygenated blood.

At the cardiac catheterization lab of a hospital, you can have a stress test performed to check the flow of blood to your heart. But be careful!  There is a 10% false-negative rate with stress tests.  If necessary, you can undergo a cardiac catheterization as an even better way of checking for blockages of the arteries leading to your heart.

If you have questions, I welcome your phone call

If you want more information or have question, I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 866-889-6882 or you can send me an e-mail at [email protected] . You can always request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.