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Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to the heart is blocked. This blockage is most likely to a build-up of fat, cholesterol, and other substances, which form a plaque in the coronary arteries. A heart attack also called a myocardial infarction. It can be fatal and leads to death.

Causes of a heart attack:

There are some cardiac conditions that may cause a heart attack. Plaque is one of the most common causes of heart attack, the plaque builds up in the arteries that restrict the blood from getting to the heart muscle.

The cause of heart attack is also a blockage in one or more coronary arteries. The blockage can be partial or complete:

STEMI– ST-elevation myocardial infarction- caused by a complete blockage in the coronary artery.

NSTMI– non- ST-elevation myocardial infarction- caused by a partial blockage in the coronary artery.

Another cause for heart attack can be blood clots, a heart attack caused by blood clots or blood vessel spasm are less common.

Infection-related to Covid-19 may result in the damage of your heart walls and can cause a heart attack.

Symptoms of heart attack

Symptoms of the heart include:

  • Chest pain and discomfort
  • Squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that can spread to your neck, jaw
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness and Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heartburn, indigestion or abdominal pain

Heart attack symptoms may vary

Not all the people experience same signs and symptoms or the severity of who has a heart attack. Few people may have a slight pain, while other people have more severe pain, while others may have more severe pain. However, some people have no symptoms, but for others, the first sign they experience may be a cardiac arrest. 

Some heart attack strike suddenly, but in most cases, people have warning signs and symptoms before hours, weeks, or days in advance. The earliest sign might be recurrent chest pain or angina (pressure) that is triggered by physical activities and relieved by rest.

Risk factors for heart attack

There is a number for factors that can put you at the risk of having a heart attack. Certain elements add to the undesirable development of fatty deposits (atherosclerosis) that narrows arteries throughout your body. You can improve or dispense with a considerable lot of these hazard elements to lessen your odds of having a first or another respiratory failure.

Risk factors of a heart attack include:

Age: Men older than 45 years and women older than 55 years are more likely to have a heart attack than younger men and women.

Tobacco: Includes smoking and long-term exposure to secondhand smoke.

High blood pressure: High blood pressure can damage arteries that lead to your heart, over time. High blood pressure that occurs with other conditions like obesity, increased cholesterol levels, or diabetes may increase your risk even more.

High blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels: A high level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (bad cholesterol) is most likely to shrink artery, and an increased level of triglycerides (a type of blood fat) also increases your risk of a heart attack. However, good cholesterol i.e. high-density lipoprotein may lower your risk of a heart attack.

Obesity: Obesity is related to high blood cholesterol levels, high triglycerides levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Just by losing 10% of your body weight may lower the risk of a heart attack.

Diabetes: Rising in blood sugar levels may increase your risk of having a heart attack.

Family history: If your family members (siblings, parents, and grandparents) have had early heart attacks (by age 55 in men and 65 in women), you might be an increased risk of having a heart attack.

Lack of physical activity: Being inactive put up your blood cholesterol levels high. People who exercise daily for 40 minutes have better heart health, including lower blood pressure. 

Stress: Taking more stress may increase your risk of having a heart attack.

Diagnosis for heart attack

First, your doctor will perform a physical examination after that they recommend some diagnostic tests. These diagnostic tests include:

Electrocardiography (ECG): An ECG is done to diagnose a heart attack by recording electric signals in your heart. ECG may show a heart attack has occurred or is in progress because the heart muscle doesn’t conduct electrical impulses normally.

Other additional diagnostic tests include:

  • Chest x-ray
  • Echocardiogram
  • Coronary catheterization (angiogram)
  • Cardiac CT or MRI

Treatment for heart attack

After the diagnosis of a heart attacks your doctor will use a variety of treatments, depending on the cause.

Your healthcare provider may order you a cardiac catheterization. In this process, a probe inserted into your blood vessels through a catheter (soft flexible tube). It allows your healthcare provider to view areas where plaque may have built up. The doctor may also inject contrast media into your arteries through the catheter and take a radiograph (X-ray) to see the blood flow and another blockage.

Surgical and other procedures:

Coronary angioplasty and stenting: This procedure is also known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), in this procedure doctors guide a long, thin tube called a catheter through an artery in your groin to a blocked artery in your heart. This procedure is done immediately after a cardiac catheterization if you had a heart attack.

The catheter contains a special balloon that inflates to open a blocked coronary artery. A metal meshes stent almost into the artery to keeps it open for a long time, restoring the blood flow to the heart.

Coronary artery bypass surgery: In a few cases, doctors perform an emergency bypass surgery at the time of the heart attack. However, you might have bypass surgery after your heart has had time about 3-7 days to recover from a heart attack, if possible.

Heart valve surgery: In this procedure, doctors replace your leaky valves and helps the heart to pump.

Pacemaker: A pacemaker is a device that is implanted under the skin. It maintains the normal rhythm of the heart.

Heart transplant: A heart transplant is performed in rare cases, in which the heart attack causes permanent tissue death to most of the heart.

Medications

Mediations for treating a heart attack include: 

  • Aspirin
  • Drugs to breakup clots
  • Painkillers
  • Nitroglycerin
  • Blood pressure medication
  • Blood thinning medications- Antiplatelet and anticoagulant
  • Thrombolytics
  • Nitroglycerin
  • Beta blockers
  • ACE inhibitors
  • Statins

Complications

A heart attack may damage your heart and may lead to:

Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias): electrical short circuits in your heart may lead to abnormal heart rhythms, in some cases it may result in death.

Heart failure: A heart attack might damage your heart tissue so much, that the remaining muscles can’t able to pump sufficient blood to the heart. Heart failure may be temporary or it may be a chronic condition resulting from extensive and permanent damage to the heart.

Sudden cardiac arrest: In some cases, the heart stops due to an electrical disturbance that causes an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia), without warning. A heart attack increases the risk of sudden cardiac arrest, which may lead to death without any immediate treatment. 

Prevention

  • Medication
  • Lifestyle factors
  • Stop smoking
  • Regular checkup of blood sugar levels in case you have diabetes

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