Heart Attack : Causes, Symptoms And 3 Major Effects In The Life Of A Victim

A heart attack, also referred to as a myocardial infarction, occurs when oxygenated blood flow to a section of the heart muscle is suddenly obstructed, causing a lack of oxygen.

According to Mayo Clinic heart attack often occurs when blood supply to the heart is greatly reduced or blocked.

Without prompt restoration of blood flow, the affected heart muscle will start to perish. Heart attacks are a widespread occurrence.

Heart attack can also be experienced as a result of blood clotting
Blood clotting can cause myocardial infarction

A heart attack occurs when a section of the heart muscle does not receive sufficient blood flow. The longer the delay in receiving treatment to restore blood flow, the more severe the damage to the heart muscle.
The primary reason for heart attacks is coronary artery disease (CAD).

Causes of a heart attack

Most heart attacks are a result of coronary artery disease, where cholesterol-containing deposits called plaques block one or more of the heart’s arteries, reducing blood flow to the heart. If one of these plaques ruptures, it can lead to a blood clot in the heart.

When a plaque opens, it has the potential to trigger a blood clot in the heart. Coronary artery spasm is a serious contraction of a blood vessel that is not obstructed.

This condition typically occurs in arteries with cholesterol build-up or that are beginning to harden due to factors like smoking. It is also known by other names such as Prinzmetal’s angina, vasospastic angina, or variant angina.

A heart attack can occur due to a blockage in a heart artery. Heart attacks are classified based on specific changes seen in an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), particularly ST elevation, which requires immediate invasive treatment.

The results of an ECG are used by healthcare providers to determine the type of heart attack. A total blockage in a medium or large heart artery typically results in an ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), while a partial blockage usually leads to a non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI).

It is important to note that some individuals with NSTEMI may still have a complete blockage.

Some infections, such as COVID-19 and other viruses, can result in harm to the heart muscle.

A tear occurring inside a heart artery is the main cause of Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD), a dangerous condition that can be life-threatening.

Symptoms of a heart attack

Symptoms of a heart attack can vary greatly from person to person. While some may experience mild symptoms, others may have more severe symptoms, and some individuals may not have any symptoms at all. Typical signs of a heart attack include:

Chest discomfort that could be described as pressure, constriction, ache, squeezing, or tightness.

Pain or discomfort that can radiate to the shoulder, arm, back, neck, jaw, teeth, or upper abdomen.

Cold Sweating: If the blood vessels in the legs or arms are constricted, it can cause symptoms such as pain, numbness, weakness, or a sensation of coldness in those body parts.

Heartburn or indigestion: Heartburn is the result of digestive acid entering the esophagus, causing discomfort or pain. Common symptoms of heartburn consist of a burning feeling in the chest area that can extend to the upper abdomen.

It typically occurs after meals or when in a lying or bending position. It might disturb your sleep, especially if you ate just before bed. Taking antacids usually alleviates the discomfort, and it may also be associated with a sour taste in the mouth, especially when lying down.

Dizziness: If you experience sudden imbalance, dizziness, or blurred vision, your body might be indicating the possibility of a heart attack. It’s important to inform someone immediately if you notice these signs.
Nausea, and
Difficulty breathing.

Prevention of a heart attack

Preventing a heart attack is possible at any stage, even if you have already experienced one. Here are some strategies to help lower your risk of having a heart attack.

Embrace a healthy way of living by avoiding smoking, sticking to a heart-healthy diet to maintain a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and effectively managing stress.

Control other health issues. Conditions like hypertension and diabetes can raise the chances of having a heart attack. Consult your healthcare provider about the frequency of checkups needed.

Adhere to medication instructions. Your healthcare provider might recommend medications to safeguard and enhance your heart’s well-being.

First Aid treatment for an attack

If advised, consider taking aspirin, which can help prevent blood clots and potentially minimize heart damage during a heart attack. It’s important to consult a healthcare provider before taking aspirin and prioritize calling for emergency assistance over taking aspirin yourself.

If someone is unconscious, use an automated external defibrillator (AED) if one is nearby. This device administers shocks to restore the heart’s normal rhythm. AEDs are equipped with spoken directions to guide users through the process and are designed to only deliver a shock when necessary.

Have the person sit down with their head and shoulders supported and knees bent. Administer 300mg of aspirin for them to chew. Do not give aspirin to anyone under the age of 16 or to those who are allergic to it.

Keep an eye on their level of consciousness.
If you have been prescribed nitroglycerin and believe you are experiencing a heart attack, it is important to take the medication as directed while waiting for emergency assistance.

If someone is unconscious and an automated external defibrillator (AED) is at hand, it should be used promptly. The AED administers shocks to correct the heart rhythm and includes spoken instructions for usage. It is designed to deliver a shock only when necessary.

Finally, if the person is not breathing or does not have a pulse, initiate CPR. If you are not trained in CPR, perform hands-only CPR by pressing forcefully and rapidly on the person’s chest at a rate of about 100 to 120 compressions per minute. If you are trained in CPR and feel capable, begin with 30 chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths.

Treatment for heart attack

Every minute following a heart attack results in the deterioration or death of more heart tissue. Immediate treatment is crucial to unblock blood flow and replenish oxygen levels. Oxygen therapy is administered promptly.

The type of treatment for a heart attack depends on whether the blockage of blood flow is partial or complete.

Medications for heart attack

Medications prescribed to address a heart attack may include:

Aspirin, which diminishes blood clotting and helps maintain blood circulation in a narrowed artery. If emergency services are contacted, you may be advised to chew aspirin.

Aspirin may also be administered immediately by emergency responders.
Clot busters, also known as thrombolytics or fibrinolytics, are medications that assist in dissolving blood clots that may be obstructing blood flow to the heart.

Administering a thrombolytic drug soon after a heart attack can reduce heart damage and increase the likelihood of survival.

Another type of medication used for thinning the blood is heparin, which is administered through an intravenous injection. Heparin works by reducing the stickiness of the blood, making it less likely to form clots.

Nitroglycerin is a medication that expands the blood vessels, enhancing blood circulation to the heart. It is utilized to alleviate sudden angina chest pain and can be administered as a sublingual pill, oral pill, or injection.

Morphine is prescribed to alleviate chest pain that does not respond to nitroglycerin.
Beta blockers reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure, which can help minimize heart muscle damage and prevent future heart attacks, making them a standard treatment for most heart attack patients.

ACE inhibitors are medications that reduce blood pressure and relieve strain on the heart.

On the other hand, statins are drugs that assist in decreasing high levels of unhealthy cholesterol, which can block arteries.

Self care routine to check heart attack

For better heart health, it is important to take care of yourself by following these steps:
Engage in regular physical activity. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise five or more days a week.

Consult with your healthcare provider if you have any restrictions due to a heart attack or surgery.

Follow a heart-healthy diet by avoiding foods high in saturated fat, trans fats, salt, and sugar. Opt for whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins like fish and beans.

Maintain a healthy weight to reduce strain on the heart and lower the risk of conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Quit smoking and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. Seek help from your provider if you need assistance to quit.
Consume alcohol in moderation, with up to one drink per day for women and two for men.

Attend regular health check-ups to monitor risk factors like high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes which may not show early symptoms.

Manage blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels through regular monitoring and consultation with your provider.

Find ways to reduce stress, such as exercising, mindfulness, and connecting with others for support.

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