Heart Attack Expertise

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Heart attack care at UVA Health includes:

  • 24/7 on-site care to help ensure you receive care as quickly as possible
  • Physicians who open blocked arteries 13 minutes faster than the national average time*
  • A 50% lower mortality rate than the national average*
  • 28 beds for cardiovascular emergencies
  • Five specialized procedure rooms for heart attack patients 
  • Surgical staff and five operating rooms in case you need open-heart surgery
  • A Chest Pain Center for rapid heart attack assessment and treatment that also conducts research on innovative techniques for evaluating and diagnosing acute, emergent chest pain 

Heart Attack Recovery: Get Extra Support

Recovery and healing after a heart attack takes time and patience. At UVA, we offer a special Heart Attack Recovery Clinic. A week after leaving the hospital, you meet with a team of specialists. You get personal, one-on-one time with a cardiologist, exercise physiologist, pharmacist and dietitian.

You don't have to readjust to normal life on your own. With personalized guidance on what to eat, how to exercise, we help you map out your journey to health. 

*Source: American College of Cardiology National Cardiovascular Data Registry Percutaneous Coronary Intervention/Catheterization Registry (ACC NCDR PCI/Cath Registry) April 2015 - March 2016


US News Heart Attack High-Performing badge

Nationally Recognized Heart Attack Care

U.S. News & World Report has named 4 of our cardiovascular treatments and procedures as "high performing," including our heart attack care. That means our heart attack care ranks higher than the national average.
See How We Rank

Diagnosis & Treatment at UVA Health

We can diagnose you by using these tests:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Echocardiogram
  • Stress test 
  • Nuclear scanning
  • Electron-beam computed tomography (EBCT)
  • Coronary angiography

Within the first six hours after a heart attack, we may give you medication to break up blood clots in the coronary arteries. If you have severe blockages, you may need immediate surgery, such as:

  • Balloon angioplasty, with or without stenting
  • Atherectomy
  • Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG)

What Causes a Heart Attack?

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart muscle is interrupted. Oxygen can't get to the heart muscle, which causes tissue damage or tissue death.

A heart attack may be caused by:

  • Thickening of coronary arteries
  • Accumulation of fatty plaques in the coronary arteries
  • Narrowing of the coronary arteries
  • Spasm of the coronary arteries
  • Development of a blood clot in the coronary arteries
  • Embolism that affects the coronary arteries

A STEMI heart attack is a type of heart attack where the coronary artery is completely blocked by a clot. 

Your doctor can diagnose a STEMI heart attack through a particular pattern that appears on an electrocardiogram (EKG).

Heart Attack Symptoms

The severity of heart attack symptoms may vary and can easily confused for something else. A quick diagnosis and treatment are essential to your survival. You may be having a heart attack if you feel:

  • Squeezing chest pain behind your chest, especially if you're:
    • Exercising
    • Feeling very stressed
    • In cold weather
    • Having a large meal
  • Pain or numbness in you left arm or jaw
  • Trouble breathing
  • Sweating
  • Nauseous
  • Feeling weak
  • Feeling like you'll pass out (or passing out)
  • Feeling anxious, especially with a sense of doom or panic without reason

If you experience signs of a heart attack, call 911 immediately. 

STEMI Heart Attack Treatment

STEMI heart attacks are blockages of the coronary artery, which require rapid treatment. UVA's team is ready 24/7 to open the blockages and minimize damage to the heart. View STEMI transcript.