NV Cardiologist Gives Heart Health Reminders During American Heart Month
Tuesday, February 14, 2023
In addition to Valentine's Day, February is also American Heart Month, and heart experts want you to know what to do if you think you are experiencing a heart attack or cardiac arrest.
Dr. Jeffrey Levisman, interventional cardiologist at MountainView Hospital in Las Vegas, said one can think of a heart attack as more of a "plumbing issue." He said if the arteries supplying oxygen-rich blood become blocked, it can lead to muscle death and manifest itself as chest pain.
Levisman explained cardiac arrest occurs more because of an electrical problem of the heart. Cardiac cells have electrical impulses which coordinate the heart's pumping efforts.
"When there is a failure in that system and the heart can stop pumping, or it can go into a rhythm that doesn't allow it to pump," Levisman noted. "Then that manifests itself as a cardiac arrest where someone just essentially passes out with the heart not pumping anymore."
Levisman emphasized those who experience cardiac arrest would not be conscious to identify the issue. He added the mortality rate for cardiac arrest is extremely high. He said a person experiencing a heart attack would likely feel chest pain and shortness of breath; symptoms a person can identify.
Levisman stressed while a heart attack may cause cardiac arrest, the two medical emergencies are not the same.
Dr. Ravi Johar, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare, said in both instances you want to start CPR immediately to try to get blood circulating again. He added with a heart attack, you are trying to pump to get blood flow through the heart, while with cardiac arrest you are trying to get the cardiac rhythm reestablished.
"And that's why an automatic defibrillator that you see in so many buildings, and everywhere now, is much more effective with a cardiac arrest," Johar explained. "Because it's sending an electrical impulse to get the heart started again."
Both doctors encouraged preventive heart care such as regular checkups with your physician, getting screening tests done and looking at cardiac risk factors. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are also important.
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