A heart attack is a serious, fatal medical condition where sections of the heart muscle begin to die as they do not receive the appropriate amounts of blood. It is also called a myocardial infarction. It is typically observed when the arteries supplying blood to the heart face a An occlusion due to plaque rupture and clot formation blockage, such as a blood clot. The longer the muscle remains without blood, the more damage is caused. Untreated heart attacks can lead to permanent heart damage and even result in deaths.
Heart and Cardiac Muscles
A heart attack usually results from a condition that causes the blockage of blood flow through the coronary arteries. Some of these conditions are:
This is a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries, including cholesterol, resulting in the formation of "plaques." It causes narrowing of the arteries.
Such buildups can rupture causing the formation of a blood clot. which results in sudden occlusion of the artery. If the blood clot is big enough to block the artery, it prevents oxygen movement to the heart, causing severe damage.
Spasm of the blood vessels
Blood vessels are lined by a muscular layer that can expand or contract to receive blood. Like cramps in the body, certain conditions may cause these vessels to cramp, preventing blood flow to the heart.
Signs Or Symptoms
- Continuous discomfort and pain in your shoulder, chest, and arm area.
- Tingling in the shoulder and arm area
- Persistent heartburn or indigestion
- Severe anxiety, fatigue, weakness
- Shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing
- Nausea and dizziness
- Excessive sweating
- Uneven or paced heartbeat
A heart attack is a grade 1 medical emergency. Do not try treating it at home. If you suspect someone has a heart attack, contact a doctor immediately or rush to a medical centre where appropriate help will be provided. As per the symptoms, cardiologists opt for:
Medications such as blood thinners, thrombolytics, antiplatelet agents, beta-blockers, etc., to allow clot lysis to restore blood supply in cases where & and angioplasty is not feasible.
Bypass or incase where there are multiple critical blockages.
A variety of risk factors can increase the chances of a heart attack.
- Age: Men aged 45 and older and women aged 55 and older are more likely to have a heart attack
- Sedentary lifestyle.
- Tobacco: Tobacco consumers and smokers, including passive smokers
- Obesity: It is linked with higher cholesterol levels, which can increase the plaque buildup
- Metabolic syndrome: A collection of disorders like diabetes, high blood pressure can increase the likelihood of having a heart attack
- Stress: This may induce unhealthy reactions from the body, including a heart attack
- Family history: Heart disease is familial
Many other conditions like lack of physical activity, high cholesterol, autoimmune disorders, illicit drug use, etc., are also risk factors for heart disease.
The most common test conducted is the Electrocardiogram or ECG for diagnosing cardiac issues. The doctor uses this test to see how the blood is being pumped through the heart's chambers. In addition, it can be used to assess if there is any damage caused due to a previous heart attack or if there is a heart attack in progress.
Since this is a lifestyle disease, primary prevention involves lifestyle modifications.
- Maintaining fitness through physical activity or weight management
- Ceasing smoking to promote healthy lungs and heart
- Managing stress or decreasing stress
- Health management by regular healthcare screenings and consultations
- Medications: Aspirin and cholesterol-lowering drugs are usually recommended to prevent re-occurrences of heart attacks
- Surgical revascularization: Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting or Stent surgeries to restore blood flow to the heart
- Quitting smoking: Heavy smokers are advised to quit smoking as soon as possible
- Lifestyle changes: Switching to healthier diets and including fitness regimes
Angina Pectoris is characterized by persistent pain in the chest area, arms, and shoulders. Constant Angina cuts off the blood supply to the heart, resulting in a heart attack. Angina is typically a result of narrow arteries. It can be a preliminary symptom of a heart attack.
A differential diagnosis is given for a heart attack by observing radiating pain in both arms and hearing a third heart sound on a stethoscope examination. A decrease in blood pressure may also be observed.
- In India, the previous 60 years have seen an upsurge in heart attacks from >1% to 9-10% in urban populations vs. 2-6% in rural areas.
- 31% of these occurred at less than 60 years of age, while 58% occurred at less than 70 years.
The expected prognosis of a first attack is usually that most people live healthy lives. This holds with the assistance of medicines and physician advice & other twenty interventions are needed
If no lifestyle modifications are carried out, 20% of the affected population reports having a second heart attack within five years.
Heart attack is usually the result of the sudden cutoff of blood supply to part of heart being cut off from blood supply. This is associated with narrowed arteries or plaque buildup. Due to the decrease in blood supply, the heart muscles do not receive their required oxygen and nutrients, thus failing to keep up with their functions. In turn, it may fail to pump blood to the rest of the body effectively.
A heart attack may escalate into advanced heart failure, cardiac arrest, or arrhythmias. This disrupts the heart’s normal functions and may require external fixes through lifelong medications or surgical fixes. Heart attacks can lead to brain death or multi-system organ failure if not treated on time.
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