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 the patient enters 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, even if you are not sure, 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 Maine Medical Center (MMC) AMI Perfuse program is a regional system for STEMI heart attack care that involves 14 Maine hospitals and emergency medical responders in the communities they serve. When someone calls 911 with heart attack symptoms, paramedics with advanced training in heart attack care are dispatched and begin treatment and testing in the ambulance. They may perform an electrocardiogram (ECG) to measure the heart’s electrical activity, and send the results to the MMC emergency department. If the patient is actually having a heart attack, the MMC 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 MMC, 94% of patients receive this lifesaving treatment within 90 minutes or less. This fast, coordinated, heart attack response system is truly saving lives.

Mark's Story

Mark is a lobsterman who spends the winter months clearing snow. But one day, his shoveling was interrupted by chest pain. That's when he learned about a coordinated system of care that is dramatically reducing the number of Mainers dying of heart attacks.

Heart Attack Symptoms May Start Slowly

Symptoms may start slowly with 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 or stomach
  • Losing your breath
  • Feeling sick to your stomach
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Cold sweat

Are you at higher 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
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Not being physically active
  • Early menopause
  • Being overweight
  • Family history of heart disease, including father or brother diagnosed before age 55, or mother or sister diagnosed before age 65.       

Lowering your heart attack risk
Lifestyle changes can make a difference and lower your risk for heart attack. Lifestyle changes can include quitting tobacco, getting regular exercise and eating healthy fods.

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