ST-elevation myocardial infarction – or STEMI – heart attacks are a serious cardiac emergency. Although all heart attacks require immediate treatment in a heart hospital ER, STEMI heart attacks must be treated more urgently to reduce damage to heart tissue. It is important to go to a heart hospital that is a designated STEMI receiving center and that meets the national guidelines for providing STEMI treatment in 90 minutes or less for the best patient outcomes.
What Is a STEMI Heart Attack?
STEMI heart attacks occur when there is a complete blockage of a coronary artery. Although all heart attacks are caused by blockages, non-STEMI heart attacks typically only involve partial blockages. In the heart hospital, doctors differentiate heart attacks using an electrocardiogram (ECG) to look for abnormalities in the heart’s electrical activity. During STEMI heart attacks, ECGs indicate ST-elevation. When this result is present, you will be diagnosed with a STEMI heart attack and treated accordingly.
What Are the Symptoms?
The symptoms of STEMI and non-STEMI heart attacks are similar. They include chest pain and pressure, fatigue, shortness of breath, and nausea. Patients may also experience cold sweats and pain in the jaw, neck, back, and one or both arms. It is not usually possible to differentiate between STEMI and non-STEMI heart attacks based on symptoms alone. As with all heart attacks, women experiencing STEMI attacks are more likely to have non-chest pain symptoms than men. As this video suggests, all instances of heart attack symptoms should be evaluated quickly.
How Are STEMI Heart Attacks Treated?
STEMI heart attack treatment focuses on restoring blood flow to the heart by unblocking the artery. The heart hospital can use a number of treatments to accomplish this goal, including percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), angioplasty and stenting, and clot-busting medications. Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) is performed in severe cases or when other treatments fail.
Riverside Community Hospital and our HeartCare Institute was the first designated STEMI receiving center in the county, and we meet the 90-minute STEMI treatment guideline for 100 percent of our patients. If you need a referral to a cardiologist or more information about our heart hospital in Riverside, please call (951) 788-3463.