When the flow of blood to your heart blocks, it can result in a Heart Attack.
The blockage can be due to fat buildup, cholesterol, and other substances causing plaque in the arteries that feed the heart or coronary arteries.
In some cases, a plaque in your arteries can rupture and form a clot that blocks the blood flows.
This interruption of the blood flow can damage or destroy some part of your heart muscle.
Heart Attacks or Myocardial Infractions have certain warning signs.
People report chest pain. sweating, nausea, and trouble breathing among other warning signs.
A heart attack is a serious medical emergency and one should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Let’s learn more about the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment in this guide.
Causes of Heart Attack
The arteries are responsible for that the oxygenated blood from your heart to the rest of the body.
However, if one or more of your coronary arteries are blocked, then it can result in a heart attack.
The buildup of fatty deposits over time forms substances, plaque, which also includes cholesterol.
It can narrow down your arteries and is termed Coronary Heart disease or Coronary Artery Disease
One of the most common causes of heart attack is the buildup of fatty acids in your arteries.
While you undergo a heart attack, a plaque can rupture and spill cholesterol and other substances in the bloodstream.
A blood clot forms as a result at the site of rupture. If it is large in size, it can book the blood flow, stopping the oxygen supply to your heart and other nutrients.
In certain cases, when a clot blocks oxygen it can cause a stroke.
High blood pressure can also cause a heart attack.
Moreover, if this results in the death of muscle cells of the heart, it can also lead to more permanent damage.
You might face a partial or complete blockage of the coronary artery which takes us to its two types,
- ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI)
- Non-ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (NSTEMI)
Causes of heart attacks also include a spasm in the coronary artery.
This restriction of arteries and contraction can turn into an on and off mechanism for your heart thus cutting off the supply of blood to your heart.
It is also termed Ischemia.
Moreover, in case you have chronic health conditions, your blood oxygen level may fall outside of the normal range.
This includes people with asthma, heart disease, etc.
Symptoms of Heart Attack
The signs and symptoms of heart attack are chest pain or discomfort, pain in the neck jaw, nausea, sweating, shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue.
Some people might not even face signs and symptoms before it while on the other hand, it can result in a sudden cardiac arrest.
It can also feel like having acid reflux, heartburn, or indigestion.
Moreover, the symptoms even differ in severity from one person to another.
Some face less pain during a heart attack while others find it unbearable, according to American Heart Association.
These can also be different in men and women. Unlike men, women may also experience other than these common symptoms.
Diagnosis of Heart Attack
During a regular physical screening and examination, your doctor is better able to identify factors that could lead to a heart attack.
They will ask about the symptoms you might be feeling, examine your blood pressure, pulse, and temperature in emergency cases.
Moreover, to monitor your heart, they will connect a heart monitor and have tests to diagnose it in an emergency room.
Certain tests to diagnose a heart attack are:
ECG, Electrocardiogram: This test records electrical signals as they travel through your heart.
Sticky patches (electrodes) are attached to your chest and limbs. Signals are recorded as waves displayed on a monitor or printed on paper.
As injured heart muscle doesn’t conduct electrical impulses normally, the ECG may show that a heart attack has occurred or is in progress.
Blood Tests: Certain heart proteins slowly leak into your blood after heart damage.
In case of emergency, your doctor will check your blood for these proteins or enzymes.
In case you had or is having a heart attack, your doctors will take immediate steps to treat your condition.
They may also order the following tests:
Echocardiogram: Sound waves or ultrasounds create images of your moving heart.
This test shows the chambers of your heart and valves pumping blood.
It can help identify whether there is damage to your heart or not.
X-ray: A chest X-ray can help your doctor to check the size of your heart and its blood vessels, and also allows them to look for fluids in your lungs.
Angiogram: Angiogram or Coronary Catheterization is a process in which your doctor puts a liquid dye into the arteries of your heart or through a long, thin tube catheter,
It feds through an artery, usually in your leg or groin, to the arteries in your heart. The dye makes the arteries visible on X-ray, revealing areas of blockage.
CT or MRI: These tests create high-resolution images of your heart and chest.
Both of these tests help to diagnose heart problems including the extent of damage from heart attacks.
A heart attack is a serious condition and one should seek immediate medical attention.
With time, there have been changes in the treatment options and many people survive due to this reason.
However, if you delay the treatment it can lead to serious complications and can be life-threatening.
Thus, an individual should call 998 or 911 as soon as they notice any of the warning signs and symptoms.
The treatment options include medical surgery and certain medications.
Let’s discuss these as follows:
If you undergo a heart attack, your doctor may recommend either a surgical or non-surgical procedure.
These can help relieve pain and even prevent another heart attack from occurring.
Common procedures are as follows:
Stent: It is a wire mesh tube that your doctor will insert into the artery to keep it open after angioplasty.
Angioplasty: It opens the blocked artery by using a balloon or by removing the plaque buildup.
Bypass Surgery: In this surgery, your doctor reroutes the blood around the blockage.
Heart Valve Surgery: In this, the leaky vales are replaced to help your heart pump blood.
Pacemaker: A device that your doctor implants beneath the skin and helps to maintain a normal rhythm of your heart.
Heart Transplant: In severe cases, your doctor will perform a heart transplant.
This is because of the permanent tissue death to most of the heart.
The following medications can help prevent a heart attack. These include:
Asprin: It reduces blood clotting and helps to maintain blood flow through the narrowed artery.
Antiplatelet Agents: This medication helps to prevent the formation of new clots and keep the existing ones from getting large.
Thrombolytics: Also called Clotbusters, they help to dissolve a blood clot that is blocking blood flow to your heart.
Blood Thinning Medications: Medications like heparin makes your blood less sticky thus inhibits the formation of clots.
Beta-Blockers: These medications help to relax your heart muscle, slow your heartbeat and decrease blood pressure.
Moreover, they limit the amount of heart muscle damage and also prevent heart attacks in the future.
Other medications include ACE inhibitors, Statins, Nitroglycerin, Pain relievers, etc.
The recovery process can take a long time and it depends on the severity of the heart attack and other related factors.
It may include,
- Cardiac rehabilitation involves the restoration of health and prevention from another heart attack.
- Leaving a sedentary lifestyle is possible with the help of a healthcare professional providing you suitable activity plan.
- Psychotherapy, counseling, and support groups are very helpful as many people get into depression after a cardiac attack
- Going back to work solely depends on the severity of your heart attack and the nature of your job.
- Driving permission also varies from person to person.
You can take certain steps to keep your heart healthy.
You should avoid smoking as it is a leading cause of heart attack. start taking smoking cessation programs to help reduce the risk.
Maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise, yoga, adding pumpkin seeds, avocado to your diet, and reducing alcohol intake can help reduce the risk.
Moreover, if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, make sure to take medications and check your blood sugar levels regularly,
If you have a heart condition, consult with your doctor and take your medications.
It is important to identify the risk factors in order to take preventive measures. These may include,
- High blood pressure
- Extremely high levels of cholesterol or triglycerides in the blood
- Diabetes mellitus
- Family history of cardiac diseases
- Lack of physical activity
- Stress and anxiety
There are several complications that can form due to a heart attack.
When you undergo a heart attack, it disrupts the normal rhythm of your heart. These are called Arrhythmias.
Moreover, when your heat stops getting blood supply, some of the heart tissue can die. This weakens your heart and can cause life-threatening conditions like heart failure.
Heart attacks can also affect your heart valves and cause leaks.
The time it takes to receive treatment and the area of damage will determine the long-term effects on your heart.
Heart attacks can be dangerous to your heart and certain lifestyle habits can make them worse.
You should take measures as a young adult or even at an old age to prevent heart attack, thus regular checkups and screening can help you identify factors that you might be developing.