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What is a heart attack?
Most heart attacks are a result of coronary heart disease – the narrowing of the coronary arteries due to a gradual build-up of fatty material within their walls. This fatty material is called atheroma.
If the atheroma becomes unstable, a piece may break off and lead to a blood clot forming.
This clot can then block the coronary artery and the heart muscle is starved of blood and oxygen and could become permanently damaged. This is a heart attack and is sometimes known as acute coronary syndrome, myocardial infarction or coronary thrombosis.
During a heart attack, life-threatening heart rhythms may develop, which makes it a medical emergency.
If you think that you or anyone else is having a heart attack, you should call 999 immediately.
Central chest pain
The pain can spread to the arms, neck or jaw
Some people can feel feel sick or sweaty as well as having central chest pain
Some people can feel short of breath as well as having central chest pain.
A dull pain, ache or 'heavy' feeling in the chest
A mild discomfort in the chest that makes you feel generally unwell
The pain in the chest can spread to the back or stomach
Some people say that the chest pain feels like a bad episode of indigestion
Some people can feel a bit light-headed or dizzy as well as having chest pain.
An assessment of your symptoms and medical history
A physical examination including monitoring your heart rate and blood pressure
An electrocardiogram (ECG) to help diagnose your condition
Blood tests to help check for any damage to the heart muscle
Thrombolysis: a treatment that helps dissolve the clot that is blocking the artery and helps to restore the blood supply to the heart. It involves injecting a drug in to the blood stream. Thrombolysis is sometimes called a clot buster.
Coronary angioplasty: a treatment to widen the artery.
What Does a Thallium Stress Test Involve?
If you have symptoms of heart disease, or a family history that suggests you may be at risk, it is important to have tests to monitor the way that your heart is working. The thallium stress test is one technique that is useful for visualising how well the blood flows to the heart muscle and through the heart when you are exerting yourself and when you are at rest.