What is a Heart Attack?
Heart attack, also known as myocardial infarction, is where the heart doesn’t receive oxygenated blood due to blockage of the artery that transports blood to the heart. This blockage leads to tissue damage which will lead to tissue death when blood is not supplied for quite a while.
What Causes of Heart Attack/ Myocardial Infarction?
It occurs when the blood vessels that supply the heart with blood becomes blocked and the tissue dies due to lack of oxygen supply, lack of glucose supply for energy thus leading to an accumulation of toxic substances in the heart cells. This happens due to the continuous deposition of fatty deposits such as cholesterol on the walls of the coronary arteries over a period of time. This narrowing is known as atherosclerosis. The blockage can be due to a clot that cannot pass through the narrowed artery.
The coronary arteries can be either be partially or completely blocked. If it is ;
- Complete blockage of the artery means you suffered STEMI heart attack (ST-elevation myocardial infarction)
- While Partial blockage means NSTEMI heart attack (non ST-elevation myocardial infarction)
What are the risk factors leading to a heart attack/ myocardial infarction?
There are some factors that might increase the chances of one having a myocardial infarction:
- High blood pressure.
- Diabetes mellitus.
- High cholesterol specifically the low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
- Tobacco use.
- Old age.
- Excessive alcohol intake.
- High levels of stress.
- Eating food with high-fat content.
- Male sex.
- Genetics and family history.
- Autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
What are the signs and symptoms of heart attack/ myocardial infarction?
Signs and symptoms that one might experience due to myocardial infarction:
- There is shortness of breath.
- Extrem chest pains/tightness/pressure for some minutes (angina) mostly on the left side of the chest.
- Abdominal pain.
- Sudden dizziness.
- Cold sweat.
- Irregular heartbeat.
- Left-sided chest pain.
- Pain that you will feel jaw or throat pain.
Note: some of these signs and symptoms can be present in other diseases and thus it is important to seek the physicians/doctor’s advice.
Diagnosis of heart attack /myocardial infarction
once you start experiencing such signs and symptoms it is advisable to visit your physician/doctor. These are some of the things that you might expect from your physician/doctor:
- The physician/doctor will first take into account: age, overall health, medical history, and family history.
- The physician/doctor will take your temperature, blood pressure and pulse rate.
The physician might send you to the lab for the following diagnostic tests:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
- Chest X-Ray
- Blood tests
- Cardiac catheterization
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Cardiac computed tomography (CT)
Treatment for heart attack/ myocardial infarction
In case of any myocardial infarction signs or symptoms, it is advisable to seek medical attention as early as possible to prevent any more damage from happening to the heart. If your doctor/physician suspects any occurrence of myocardial infarction, treatment is started immediately. The physician/doctor has to confirm first what kind of a heart attack. It can be either First This may be done by:
- You may be given aspirin which will percent blood clotting in case of any damage to the vessels.
- Oxygen therapy would be done so as to increase the amount of oxygen supply to the cardiac tissues.
- Nitroglycerine might be given to improve your blood flow to the cardiac tissues that may be damaged
- Will be given some medication to relieve you from the chest pain that you may experience
- In case of a clot blocking the coronary artery, the national guidelines recommend that surgery should be done within 90 minutes for a better outcome.
Medication for heart attack/myocardial infarction
Your physician/doctor can prescribe the following medication for you. It is quite crucial that you should follow the prescription and the advice in order to prevent any more damage and reduce the chances of having a myocardial infarction again. If there some suspicion of a myocardial infarction you can be started on some of these medications:
- Antiplatelet agents such as aspirin.
- Digitalis medication such as digoxin.
- Anticoagulants such as warfarin and heparin.
- Beta-Blockers such as propranolol, labetalol and metoprolol
- Calcium Channel Blockers such as Nifedipine, Amlodipine and Amlodipine.
- ACE Inhibitors such as Enalapril, Captopril, Benazepril and Quinapril.
- Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers such as Iosartan, Varsatan and Ilmesatan.
- Cholesterol-lowering medications such as niacin, Cholestyramine and Simvastatin.
Prevention for a heart attack/myocardial infarction
- Reduce or stop smoking.
- Control of underlying conditions
- Having a balanced diet
- Avoidance of excessive drinking.
- Avoidance of excessive stress
- Regular exercises
- Avoid foods with high cholesterol intake especially with low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
Complications for a heart attack/myocardial infarction
- Irregular heartbeats
- Chest pain
- Heart rapture
- Difficulty in breathing