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Heart Attack - Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI)

A heart attack, also known as a Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI), happens when the blood supply to a part of the heart is changed, causing damage to the heart.        

There are things that raise your risk of having a heart attack:

  • Previous heart attack or angina                                 
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Not being physically active
  • Being overweight
  • Family history of heart disease
    • Father or brother diagnosed before age 55
    • Mother or sister diagnosed before age 65

Also, women who have gone through early menopause, either naturally or because they have had a hysterectomy, are twice as likely to develop heart disease as women of the same age who have not yet gone through menopause.

Are you at risk of having a heart attack within the next 10 years?

While certain risk factors cannot be changed, it is important to realize that you do have control over many others.  Regardless of your age, background, or health status, you can lower your risk of heart disease--and it doesn't have to be complicated.  There are many resources  to help you.

Signs and symptoms of a heart attack are different from person to person , but they usually are not as obvious and dramatic as people think.  Some people feel no symptoms at all.

Some heart attack symptoms are described as:

  • An intense aching in the left side or center of the chest
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, your back,neck, jaw or stomach
  • A feeling of extreme pressure, fullness, or tightness in the chest
  • Nausea, dizziness, weakness, shortness of breath, or a cold sweat

As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

When having a heart attack the longer you wait to get treatment the more the heart muscle may be damaged. 

The best way to treat those who are having a certain type of heart attack is with clot busting drugs and artery-opening treatments .  However to get these you must get to a hospital.  Call 9-1-1!  Paramedics can provide initial medical treatment.  This is much better than trying to drive to the hospital yourself.  By calling 9-1-1, emergency personnel will come to you and will:

  • Arrive fast and start medical care;
  • Send information to the hospital emergency department before the patient’s arrival;
  • Restart or shock the heart if patient goes into cardiac arrest.

Resources in this section :

For more information about the Heart Attack/AMI Program at MaineHealth, please email Cynthia Pernice , Program Manager, or call (207) 661-7539.



Heart Attack - Acute Myocardial Infarction

Patient & Family Information about Heart Attacks and Treatments

Helpful Links

Are you at risk of having a heart attack?

Download a brochure about Heart Attacks 

Health Information

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