Heart Attack | Acute Myocardial Infarction
The MaineHealth network of regional hospital systems works in partnership with emergency medical responders to deliver fast treatment for heart attack care. Our goal is to achieve the best possible outcomes, no matter where you enter our system of care.
What is a heart attack?
A heart attack (acute myocardial infarction or AMI) is a medical emergency that happens when blood flow is blocked to the heart. When the heart is unable to get oxygen from the blood, there is a high risk for heart tissue damage or death. Getting help quickly can be a lifesaver. Learn the heart attack signs. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, call 911 immediately.
Heart Attack Care/AMI Perfuse Program
A STEMI (segment elevation myocardial infarction) is a type of heart attack in which a coronary artery is blocked by a blood clot that obstructs blood flow to the heart. When a STEMI strikes, the faster the artery can be opened (reperfused), the sooner blood flow can be restored, reducing the chance of damage to the heart muscle, or death. The MaineHealth AMI Perfuse program is a regional system for STEMI heart attack care that involves 14 Maine hospitals and emergency responders across the state. When someone calls 911 with heart attack symptoms, paramedics with advanced training in heart attack care are dispatched and can begin treatment and testing in the ambulance.
For example, they may perform an electrocardiogram (ECG) to measure the heart’s electrical activity, and send the results ahead to the emergency department of the closest participating hospital. If the patient is having a heart attack, the hospital response team is ready to perform angioplasty as soon as the patient arrives at the hospital. The national goal is for at least 75% of patients to receive balloon angioplasty within 90 minutes or less after arriving at the hospital door. At Maine Medical Center, 94% of patients receive this lifesaving treatment within 90 minutes or less. This fast, coordinated, heart attack response system is truly saving lives.
How will I know if I'm having a heart attack?
Symptoms may start with mild discomfort. Because people are not sure about what’s happening, they may wait too long to get help. Other heart attack symptoms include:
- Chest discomfort (pressure, squeezing, fullness) that goes away and comes back
- Pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, shoulder or stomach
- Losing your breath
- Feeling dizzy
- Cold sweat
- Nausea or vomiting
- Feeling overly tired
If you are having heart attack symptoms, call 911 and get medical help right away.
Am I at risk for a heart attack?
Some people are at a higher risk of having a heart attack. These heart attack risk factors include:
- Previous heart attack or angina
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Not being physically active
- Early menopause
- Being overweight
- Family history of heart disease, father or brother diagnosed before age 55, mother or sister diagnosed before age 65.
Lifestyle changes such as quitting tobacco, getting regular exercise, and eating healthy foods, can lower your risk for heart attack.