Heart Attack

A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction, occurs when an area of heart muscle dies or is permanently damaged due to an inadequate supply of oxygen to that area. At MedStar St. Mary's Hospital, we partner with MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute to enhance cardiac and vascular care for patients by offering a seamless continuum of care. This means efficient communication among all members of your team, including doctors, nurses, and support services professionals. The result is comprehensive care for you.

If you or someone you love is believed to be having a heart attack, please stop what you are doing and call 9-1-1 or travel to your nearest Emergency Department as soon as possible.


  • Chest pain or other pain, which radiates from the chest to the arms or shoulder; neck, teeth, or jaw; abdomen or back. The pain can be intense and severe or quite subtle and confusing and can feel like:
    • Squeezing or heavy pressure
    • A tight band on the chest
    • An elephant sitting on your chest
    • Bad indigestion
    • Anxiety
  • Cough
  • Fainting
  • Feeling of impending doom
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating, which may be profuse

Note: Women may experience different symptoms than men. Read more about our Women’s Heart Program.

Diagnostic Tools

  • Angiography
  • ECG
  • Echocardiogram
  • Stress Test

Treatment Options

Both medication and surgery are options for treating heart attack patients.

MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital works closely with the MedStar Heart and Vascular Institute to ensure patients needing the highest level of care are quickly transported to MedStar Washington Hospital Center or the new Nancy and Harold Zirkin Heart & Vascular Hospital, a state-of-the-art cardiovascular care hospital offering expert cardiovascular services utilizing the latest medical technology.