Heart attack

What is a heart attack

Myocardial infarction, also called a heart attack, is necrosis of the myocardium – the heart muscle.

Arteries deliver oxygen-rich blood so that the heart muscle contracts and pushes blood to the rest of the body.

When the blood flow is not sufficient, the heart muscle begins to suffer from the lack of oxygen. And when blood flow is completely blocked due to blood clotting, then the heart muscle begins to necrose.

What are the symptoms of a heart attack

If you think you have the following symptoms of a myocardial infarction, seek emergency medical help immediately and call 112:

  • Chest pain accompanied by shortness of breath;
  • Profuse sweating;
  • Nausea.

The pain in the chest feels like tightness, heaviness or pressure.

Unfortunately, however, most people do not experience these classic symptoms of a myocardial infarction. Other possible symptoms of a heart attack can be:

  • Indigestion;
  • Jaw pain;
  • Pains and numbness in the shoulders or hands;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Nausea or vomiting;

This heart attack symptom list is not complete, as many times a myocardial infarction occurs with almost no or minimal symptoms.

In women and the elderly, the symptoms can be so vague that they are easily missed. The only complaint may be excessive muscle weakness or fatigue.

The pain usually starts in the direction of the chest towards the neck, jaw, shoulder or back and is accompanied by shortness of breath, nausea and sweating.

What are the causes

Myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack, is a serious illness that can have serious health consequences and even be fatal.

We have already mentioned that hypertension and high cholesterol are two of the main reasons for the development of atherosclerosis and, hence, heart attack. Uncontrolled hypertension can place additional stress on the heart muscle, putting it at greater risk of damage.

Essentially, a myocardial infarction represents a critical moment in this process of damaging the heart and disrupting normal blood flow.

To understand in more detail what happens during a myocardial infarction, let’s look at the steps of the process:

  1. Atherosclerosis: Uncontrolled cholesterol and high blood pressure are factors that promote the accumulation of atherosclerotic plaque in the coronary arteries. These plaques are formed from cholesterol, blood cells and other substances.

  2. Narrowing of the artery: Over time, atherosclerotic plaque enlarges and narrows the internal diameter of the coronary artery. This makes it difficult for blood to reach the heart, which can lead to symptoms such as chest pain with exercise or stress.

  3. Thrombus Formation: Narrowing of the artery can lead to disruption of the plaque surface, which can activate blood clotting and thrombus formation. This thrombus can block the artery completely or partially.

  4. Ischemia: When an artery is blocked by a thrombus, blood flow to part of the heart is cut off. This region begins to suffer from a lack of oxygen and nutrients, which creates the conditions for tissue calcification known as ischemia.

  5. Necrosis of the heart: If blood flow is not quickly restored, heart tissue begins to die due to lack of oxygen and nutrients. This process is called necrosis of the heart and is characteristic of myocardial infarction.

  6. Symptoms and Treatment: Myocardial infarction is manifested by symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, heart rhythm disturbances and even loss of consciousness. Emergency medical attention is essential, and treatment may include blood thinning, artery stenting, or even coronary bypass surgery.

  7. Consequences and rehabilitation: After a heart attack, patients often need physical rehabilitation, medication and lifestyle changes. This includes regular physical training, a low-cholesterol diet and monitoring by a cardiologist.

Treatment of a heart attack

If the electrocardiogram detects a myocardial infarction, the goal of treatment is to open the blocked artery as soon as possible and restore blood supply to the heart muscle.

If you are at home and notice that you are having symptoms of a myocardial infarction, the first thing you should do after first calling 911 is to take an aspirin, which will dilute little blood and thus will prevent further clogging of the artery.

The second thing to do is to remain in a state of complete rest, because when a part of the heart is not functioning, the body is not well supplied with blood. When making physical efforts, damage to other organs and additional complications are possible.

Most hospitals have created an organization that allows, if a heart attack is suspected, the electrocardiogram to be done 10 minutes after the patient’s arrival in intensive care.

After that, the administration of medication begins, with the help of which an attempt is made to restore blood flow to the heart muscle. Intravenous nitroglycerin is given, which dilates the blood vessels. Heparin or enoxaparin is used to thin the blood. If the pain is too strong, he can resort to morphine. Antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel or prasugrel are also recommended.

Invasive treatment of a myocardial infarction consists in performing a coronary angiography and at the same time coronary angioplasty is performed – placement of a stent in the area of ​​the blockage of the artery.

As with angiography, after local anesthesia is applied, a catheter with an X-ray tip is introduced into the femoral artery or into the branchial artery in the elbow to determine the location of the blockage of the artery.

In coronary angioplasty, which is performed at the same time as angiography, a catheter is inserted to suck out the substances, usually cholesterol, that have blocked the coronary artery.

After completing this procedure, another tip applies pressure to the artery. It is dilated and a stent is placed at the site of the blockage to avoid future thrombus formation in the same place.

Prevention and appropriate treatment are essential to reduce the risk of heart attack and keep the heart healthy.

A healthy lifestyle, regular medical check-ups, and changes in dietary and physical habits according to doctor’s recommendations can help prevent this dangerous event.

Myocardial infarction serves as a reminder of the importance of heart care and the need for caution to preserve health and quality of life.

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