A heart attack, also known as myocardial infarction, occurs when the blood flow to the heart muscle gets blocked and it cannot receive enough oxygen. There can be several reasons for blockage. When this condition is left untreated for a long time, it can cause severe damage to the heart muscle.
Symptoms of Heart Attack
The symptoms of heart attack vary from one person to another. The common symptoms include:
- Chest discomfort: You may experience pressure, discomfort, tightness, or pain in the chest and it may extend to the jaw, neck or back. Chest discomfort occurs at the centre or on the left side of the chest. It can last for a few minutes or until some treatment is given. At times, there may not be much time from the onset of pain and some catastrophic event like death.
- Shortness of breath occurs before or after chest discomfort. You may experience it while resting or while doing some physical activity
- Choking feeling or indigestion
- Discomfort on either one side or both sides of your arms, neck, shoulder, upper portion of the abdomen and back
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue and severe weakness
- Uneven or fast heartbeat
- Cold sweats
In some cases, patients do not experience any symptoms and it is called a silent heart attack. This kind of heart attack is more common among diabetic patients.
If you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms, call the emergency number or your relative. The sooner you get the treatment, the damage to your heart muscle gets reduced.
Chest Pain and Heart Attack
Chest pain is not a condition but is a sign of some serious condition such as heart attack. Chest pain may occur while doing regular activities and it disappears either with rest or medication. But, if the chest pain persists for more than five minutes or does not reduce even after taking medication, it indicates an emergency and call the emergency number.
Causes of Heart Attack
The main cause of a heart attack is coronary artery disease. With this disease, coronary arteries become thin and the blood flow becomes difficult. As the blood supply gets blocked, it leads to a heart attack. With this disease, calcium and cholesterol build up in the walls of arteries and can form plaques. Plaques are soft in the inside and are hard from the outside. Plaques build up over years and they can break open called ‘plaque rupture’. Then, blood clots will form over the broken plaque and can block your arteries. With the lack of oxygen supply, heart muscle cells die and cause severe damage.
Another rare cause of a heart attack is a spasm of the coronary artery. The spasm does not allow blood to flow to the heart. The diagnosis for heart attack is based on the symptoms, blood tests, ECG or 2D-Echocardiogram.
Treatment for Heart Attack
After a heart attack, every second becomes crucial and more heart tissue dies with passing time. Such heart damage can be prevented by restoring blood flow. Your doctor would prescribe you medications to reduce or dissolve a blood clot. In the emergency room, you would also be given medication to prevent new clots. Your doctor may also prescribe pain relievers or other blood-thinning medications.
If the medications do not help you, your doctor will suggest procedure to either unblock the blocked coronary artery or to bypass the blocked or narrowed artery.
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