Heart attack is a condition in which the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart is cut off. It occurs due to some blockage caused by the building up of plaque. This plaque feeds the heart. Sometimes, the plaque is ruptured and forms clots. As a result of the obstruction, it causes a heart attack. It kills cells.
It is a common condition known as a myocardial infarction. According to the CDC (Center for diseases Control and Prevention), a heart attack is a common condition that occurs every 40 seconds in the United States.
It can be sudden or sometimes give warning signs like chest pain. Heart attack can be fatal so if someone around you is experiencing the symptoms, immediately call the emergency services.
Causes of heart attack
The building up of plaque in the arteries is known as atherosclerosis. This condition leads to a heart attack by cutting off the supply of blood to the heart.
The buildup of cholesterol, calcium, proteins and other substances is called plaque. It is ruptured, and the content is released into the bloodstream. If the ruptured clots are large, they cause blocking of arteries.
The main causes of a heart attack include:
- Overuse of drugs
- Damaged blood vessels
- Lack of oxygen in the blood
- Blood vessels spasms
There are two types of heart attack:
Type 1 heart attack: In this condition, the plaque on the inner walls of the arteries is ruptured. The blood clots are formed at the site of rupture. The content is released into the bloodstream. Sometimes the clots are large that they even block the passage. It hinders the supply of oxygen and essential nutrients to the heart.
Type 2 heart attack: In type 2, arteries are not completely blocked, but the heart does not receive oxygen-rich blood.
Symptoms of heart attack
Symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Pressure and tightness in chest and arms that spread to neck and back
- Arm pain
- Pain in neck and shoulders
- Cold sweat
- Fatigue and dizziness
Different people experience different symptoms of a heart attack. According to a 2019 study, women are more likely than men to display signs of a heart attack.
This condition occurs due to plaque rupturing in males, while women experience heart attacks due to non-obstructive coronary artery disease.
Women are at greater risk of this condition after menopause because the estrogen level of their bodies decreases. It increases the chances of heart attacks.
There are several risk factors associated with heart attacks. A few factors are age and family history. Other factors include:
- High cholesterol
- Lack of physical activity
- Metabolic syndromes
- Autoimmune condition
- Use of prohibited drugs
- Alcohol consumption
- Sleep apnea
- Diet rich in Trans saturated fats
People above 65 are at greater risk of heart attacks. If you have a family history of heart attacks, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes – you are at greater risk of developing this serious medical condition.
Your doctor will diagnose the heart attack by examining you physically or seeing your medical history.
To check the activity level of the heart, your doctor may perform ECG (electrocardiogram). Electrodes are attached to the chest and limbs of a person. The electrical impulses are recorded on a monitor. An abnormal heart does not show a regular electrical impulse pattern.
Sometimes the due to leakage – certain proteins enter into the bloodstream. A doctor may draw a blood sample to examine the condition of your heart muscles as well as the proteins and enzymes.
These heart attacks are usually unpredictable. The person that treats you in the emergency room and helps you stabilize your condition is called a cardiologist – A person who specializes in heart and its problems.
If you are diagnosed with a heart attack, your doctor may perform the following tests and treatment procedures depending upon the cause and type.
Cardiac catheterization is a method in which your doctor inserts a catheter into your blood vessels. It allows seeing where the plaque buildup is.
An X-ray is also performed to see the flow of blood and blockage.
Your doctor may recommend surgical or non-surgical procedures to treat the condition. They may also prescribe you pain killers and other medications to prevent the happening of another heart attack.
Medications for heart attack
Common medications include:
Aspirin: In case of any emergency, immediately give aspirin to the patients to reduce the blood clots.
Thrombolytic: These are the drugs you take immediately after a heart attack. These drugs dissolve the clots. The sooner you get this, the greater the chances of your survival from a heart attack.
Nitroglycerin: This is used to treat chest pain due to a heart attack. It also widens the arteries and regulates the steady flow of blood.
Anticoagulants: Patients are given anticoagulants such as heparin to thin their blood and avoid clotting.
Beta-blockers: Beta-blockers make the functioning of your heart easy and better. It relaxes the muscles and decreases blood pressure. It also improves heart functioning and prevents future attacks.
Blood pressure medications: Certain medications for controlling blood pressure are used to put less pressure on the heart. ACE inhibitors drugs are usually used for this purpose.
Statins: These drugs are used to lower the cholesterol level in the blood.
Surgical and other procedures
Common procedures to treat heart attacks include:
This procedure removes the plaque buildup in arteries. It opens the passageways for the normal flow of blood. A stent tube is inserted into the arteries to keep them open after angioplasty.
Heart valve surgery
As the name indicates, your doctor will replace the damaged or leaky valves to regulate the normal blood flow.
Heart bypass surgery
In heart bypass surgery, your doctor will redirect the flow of blood around the obstruction.
It is a device implanted beneath the skin to assist the heart in maintaining its usual rhythmic beating.
If the tissues of the heart are dead or damaged completely, your doctor is more likely to recommend you a heart transplant.
Other treatment options
To be on the safe side, you may adopt a few lifestyle changes to avoid the risk of heart attacks, especially if you have a family history.
Eating a balanced diet, increasing physical activity, and avoiding Trans saturated fats, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption may reduce the chances of heart attacks. All these lifestyle changes will help you get better health and promotes good heart health.
Heart attacks may cause several complications. When it occurs – it disturbs the normal rhythm of the heart, this condition is called arrhythmias.
Heart attacks cause damage to valves. These valves start leaking. It interrupts the normal flow of blood.
The blockage of the heart due to plaque buildup causes damage to several tissues. These tissues begin to die. Gradually, it causes the weakening of the heart and disturbs its performance. It results in a life-threatening condition known as heart failure.
Recovering from heart attacks is not easy. You need to work with your health care provider to reach a normal life.
Heart attacks damage the tissue and muscles of the heart. It disturbs the normal rhythm and functioning of the heart. It also reduces its ability to pump blood. That is why it is critical to adhere to your doctor’s instructions before and after treatment.
The recovery plan includes:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Perform light to moderate exercises with the approval of your doctor
- Quit smoking and alcohol consumption
- Do not perform strenuous activities soon after a heart attack
There are several risk factors like family history and age that you cannot change or control.
However, you may reduce the risk of heart attacks and strengthen your heart by adopting a few things like:
Add a nutrient-rich and balanced diet to your routine
Avoid oily foods that are rich in Trans saturated fats
Increase your physical activity level
Smoking is a major cause of heart attack. If you smoke, talk to your doctor, ask him to make a plan for you, and follow that plan strictly to quit smoking gradually.
Limit intake of alcohol
Monitor your blood pressure regularly
All these things will help you lower the risk of heart attacks and other cardiac diseases. Work with your doctor and strictly follow the recovery plan to avoid future incidences of heart attacks. Immediately talk to your doctor if you have any concerns regarding your heart health.