So how do you know if you’re suffering a widowmaker heart attack? Pope says a widowmaker typically presents with the same symptoms commonly associated with a heart attack, including:
- Chest pain or discomfort including pain, pressure, tightness, squeezing or fullness in the chest for several minutes.
- Upper body pain or discomfort that can occur in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat
Treatment for a widowmaker heart attack typically involves the use of balloons and stents to restore the blocked blood flow, Pope says. A tiny wire is pushed through the blockage, then a balloon is used to open up the blocked area.
The balloon is removed and a stent is inserted to prop open the blockage.
“Fortunately, people are a lot better educated these days about heart attack symptoms, which means they are more quick to seek treatment,” Pope says. “Combine that with treatment advances, and we’re able to save more lives than ever before.”