Introduction:

A heart attack usually occurs when the heart’s blood flow is blocked or reduced due to fatty substances and cholesterol. It is also known as myocardial infarction. These fatty substances have deposits like plaque in it which cause blockage in the arteries of the heart. Some of this plaque can rupture and form a clot that reduces or blocks the blood flow of the heart and damage the heart muscles. Proper medication and treatment on time help to save a person from death.

Causes:

Some of the common causes of heart attack are the following:

  • Coronary artery disease: Coronary artery disease is a problem in the heart usually caused when the blood vessels narrow, and there is difficulty in supplying blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the heart. This disease is generally caused due to build-up of fatty material(plaques) in the wall of arteries. A heart attack usually happens due to decreased or partial blockage of blood flow in the heart plaques. 
  • Spontaneous coronary artery dissection(SCAD): An emergency usually occurs when a tear forms in the heart’s artery, which causes blocked or slow blood flow that ultimately leads to a heart attack.
  • A coronary artery spasm: 
  •  It is a temporary tightening of the blood vessels that causes reduced or blocked blood flow in the heart, ultimately resulting in a heart attack. 
  • Certain infections: Covid 19 and many other viral infections can also cause damage to the heart and become the reason for heart attacks or heart diseases.  

Symptoms:

Though heart attacks strike suddenly to a person, some people have warning signs for days or weeks before a heart attack. The symptoms of heart attack vary from condition to condition and person to person. Some people have mild symptoms of heart while others have severe. In some cases, the patient feels no symptoms during a heart attack. Some of the common symptoms of heart attack are the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Cold sweat
  • Severe pain chest
  • Tightness of chest
  • The discomfort of pain on the left side of the body that spreads to the back, jaw, neck, arm, or upper belly
  • Shortness of breath
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Angina
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

When to see a doctor:

You need to see a doctor if your heart is beating irregularly, either too fast or too slow or skipping a beat. Take immediate medical help when you feel shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, fainting, or chest pain. A decrease in blood pressure also results in a heart attack or heart failure. If not reaching the hospital on time, the patient’s death can also occur.

Diagnosis:

To diagnose a heart attack, emergency workers may ask about the symptoms of the person who took you to the hospital and then order immediate testing. Echocardiography is usually recommended in this condition. Echocardiography takes place with the help of an echocardiogram that checks the heart muscle thickness and blood flow in the heart. Other diagnostic tests may include:

  • Electrocardiogram(ECG): 
  • It records the electrical activity of the heart.
  • Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Test to get an image of the heart using a powerful magnetic field and computer processing 
  • Cardiac Catheterization: Test to get an image of blocked arteries for treatment
  • Stress tests: A treadmill or radionuclide test to check the areas of the heart having the risk of heart attack
  • Blood tests: Different blood tests to diagnose a heart attack and observe heart damage and blood flow in the heart 
  • Angiogram: A test used to detect blood flow by injecting a dye-like substance into vessels

Treatment:

Some of the treatment methods for heart attack are the following:

Medications:

The medications that help to treat Heart attacks may include calcium aspirin, beta-blockers, pain relievers, antiplatelets, anticoagulants, blood pressure medication, nitroglycerin, and antiarrhythmics. These medications are helpful in the proper functioning of the heart and in treating a heart attack.

Surgical processes: 

Surgical processes used to treat heart attack are the following:

  • Balloon angioplasty: Balloon angioplasty is a process that is used to widen the narrowed or obstructed arteries and veins through a wire with a tiny balloon to treat heart disease.
  • Coronary artery bypass graft: This surgical process restores the blood flow to the heart area that is not receiving adequate blood supply due to the blockage in arteries. In this process, a surgeon uses a vessel from other parts of your body to create a graft that allows blood flow in the heart.
  • Pacemaker: This small device controls irregular arrhythmias and helps the heart beat at an average rate. It is usually recommended for people having a slow heartbeat rate.
  • Heart transplant:

The doctor may suggest a heart transplant when the patient has permanent heart tissue death. During this process, the deceased heart of a patient is replaced with a healthy heart.

  • Stent: Stents are tiny, expandable metal mesh coils inserted into the lumen of an anatomic vessel or duct to keep the passageway open. Stenting is the placement of a stent. This procedure is used in all angioplasty procedures. 
  • Heart valve surgery: During this process, the doctor repairs or replaces the leaky valve of the heart and usually helps the heart to pump blood.

Risk factors:

The risk factors for heart attack are the following:

  • Age:

There is more chance of suffering from a heart attack if the patient’s age is more than 50. High blood pressure is most common in men aged about 45 and most common in women older than 55.

  • Family history:

Suppose many people in your family suffer from heart disease or high blood pressure. In that case, your risk of developing this problem is increased because high blood pressure disease tends to run genes that ultimately lead to a heart attack.

  • Metabolic syndrome:

It is a group of disorders that attack the human body, such as an enlarged waist, abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride level, and high blood sugar. There is a greater chance of heart disease if the person already suffers from metabolic syndrome.

  • Overweight:

The more blood, oxygen, and nutrients you need to supply to your tissues, the more your weight increases. Being overweight is linked with diabetes, bad cholesterol, and high blood pressure in the human body.

  • Inactive lifestyle:

People with inactive physical life have more chance of developing heart attacks because they have an inactive lifestyle and their heart rate is very high. The more their heart rate is, the more complex their hearts need to work, and the stronger force put in their arteries. 

  • Use of Alcohol and tobacco:

Having tobacco and drinking too much alcohol damage your heart. Having more than two drinks per day can seriously affect your blood pressure, and chewing tobacco increases your blood pressure and damages the lining of your artery wall. Try to avoid both of them as much as possible.

  • Chronic conditions:

Chronic conditions increase the risk of heart attacks, such as kidney disease, sleep apnea, and diabetes.

  • Stress:

A high-stress level can increase the risk of heart disease or heart attack. The primary reason behind this issue is eating more and using tobacco and Alcohol. Adopt healthy habits to avoid stress.

  • High blood pressure:

It results in the hardening and thickening of arteries, leading to a stroke or heart attack.

  • Pregnancy:

If a woman is pregnant, there is more risk of developing high blood pressure than non-pregnant ones, which results in the patient suffering from a heart attack.

Complications:

Some of the complications caused due to heart attacks are the following:

  • Arrhythmias: Arrhythmia or Cardiac Rhythm Disturbances interrupt your heart’s electrical signals and cause your heart to beat either too slow or too fast or in an abnormal way which can be deadly for the patient
  • Heart Failure: 
  •  If the heart pumps the blood against the high pressure in your vessels, this causes the wall of the chambers thickens. Eventually, the thickened muscles have difficulty pumping enough blood to meet their bodily needs, resulting in heart failure.
  • Cardiogenic shock: In this condition, the heart is suddenly or abruptly unable to pump blood to the body.
  • Cardiac arrest: 
  • Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating without warning or symptom. 
  • Pericarditis: 
  • It is an inflammation or swelling of sac-like tissues around the heart. 

Preventions:

Lifestyle changes that prevent the risk of heart attack are the following:

  • Taking a heart-healthy diet
  • Staying physically active
  • Avoid smoking and Alcohol
  • Manage your blood pressure and cholesterol level
  • Control your diabetes
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Limiting caffeine in the body
  • Reducing stress and anger in life
  • Using medication according to the prescription by a doctor

References:

  • https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heart-attack/#:~:text=A%20heart%20attack%20(myocardial%20infarction,you%20suspect%20a%20heart%20attack. 
  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-attack/symptoms-causes/syc-20373106
  • https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/heart_attack.htm
  • https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/heart-disease-heart-attacks
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/heart-attack
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/151444
  • https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16818-heart-attack-myocardial-infarction

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