What Is a STEMI Heart Attack?


Quick Answer

A STEMI heart attack occurs when there is a complete blockage of a coronary artery, which prevents the flow of blood to a large portion of the heart, explains The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions. STEMI stands for ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction. This is one of the most dangerous types of heart attacks.

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Full Answer

A STEMI heart attack requires immediate emergency medical attention, states McLaren Health Care. Patients who suspect they are experiencing this type of heart attack should never attempt driving to the emergency room by themselves or have someone drive them. Rather, they should dial 911 and allow an ambulance to transport them to the emergency room because access to emergency medical services while en route to the hospital significantly increases the chances of surviving a STEMI heart attack.

Symptoms of STEMI heart attacks do not usually appear instantaneously, according to McLaren Health Care. They typically appear gradually over the course of several minutes, and patients may notice warning signs up to one month before the attack happens. Typical symptoms include chest pain, pressure or squeezing; heart burn; loss of consciousness; weakness; and shortness of breath. Other common signs are nausea, heavy sweating and dizziness. Women are less likely to experience chest pain and more likely to have shortness of breath, numb fingertips, stomach pain, exhaustion and weakness.

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