Warning Signs: Heart Attack

A heart attack, or myocardial infarction (MI), is permanent damage to the muscle of the heart. "Myo" means muscle, "cardial" refers to the heart, and "infarction" means death of tissue due to the absence or lack of blood supply.

What Occurs During a Heart Attack?
Plaque Accumulation in the Artery
The heart muscle needs a continuous supply of oxygen-rich blood to sustain it. The coronary arteries deliver the heart with this critical blood supply. If you have coronary artery disease, those arteries become narrow and blood cannot flow as normal as it should. Cholesterol, calcium, proteins,
and inflammatory cells accumulate within the artery walls to form plaques of different sizes. The plaque deposits are hard on the outside and mushy on the inside.

When the plaque hardens, the outer shell cracks (plaque rupture), platelets come to the affected area, and blood clots form around the plaque. If a blood clot entirely blocks the artery, the heart muscle becomes "starved" for oxygen. Within a short time, death of heart muscle cells happens, causing permanent damage. This is a heart attack.

Every single coronary artery supplies blood to a region of heart muscle. The extent of damage to the heart muscle rest on the size of the area supplied by the blocked artery and the period between injury and treatment.

Healing of the heart muscle starts soon after a heart attack and takes about eight weeks. Similar to a skin wound, the heart's wound heals and a scar will form in the damaged area. But, the scar tissue does not contract. So, the heart's pumping ability is decreased after a heart attack. The amount of lost pumping ability rest on the size and location of the scar.

Heart Attack Symptoms

Symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Discomfort, heaviness, pressure, or pain in the chest, arm, or below the breastbone
  • Discomfort radiating to the back, jaw, throat, or arm
  • Extreme weakness, anxiety, or shortness of breath
  • Fullness, indigestion, or choking feeling (may feel like heartburn)
  • Sweating, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeats

In the course of a heart attack, symptoms last 30 minutes or longer and are not relieved by rest.

Some people have a heart attack without having any symptoms (a "silent" myocardial infarction). A silent MI can happen in any person, but it is more common among people with diabetes.

What to do if Heart Attack happens?

After a heart attack, speedy treatment to open the blocked artery is vital to lessen the extent of damage. At the first signs of a heart attack, call for emergency treatment. The best time to treat a heart attack is within one to two hours of the first onset of symptoms. Waiting longer increases the damage to your heart and reduces the chance of survival of the victim.

Bear in mind that chest discomfort can be described in numerous ways. It can occur in the chest or in the arms, back, or jaw. If you have symptoms, take notice. These are your heart disease warning signs. Seek medical attention immediately.

1 comment:

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