Heart attack : symptoms, causes, tests , treatments & more

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heart attack
By 12-Sep-2022

What is a heart attack?

A myocardial infarction (commonly called a heart attack) is a very dangerous condition caused by insufficient blood flow to the heart muscle. Poor blood flow can be caused by a variety of factors but is usually associated with blockage of one or more of the arteries of the heart. Without blood flow, the affected heart muscle begins to die. If blood flow is not restored quickly, a heart attack can cause permanent heart damage and death.


heart attack


What are the symptoms of a heart attack?

Heart attacks have different symptoms, some more common than others. Symptoms are also influenced by gender because heart attack symptoms are likely to be different in men and women.


common heart attack symptoms:


  • Chest pain (angina pectoris). The symptoms may be mild and feel like discomfort and heaviness, or they may be severe and stabbing. It begins in the chest and spreads (or radiates) to other areas such as the left arm (or both arms), shoulder, neck, chin, back, or hips.


  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.


  • Nausea and an upset stomach. Heart attacks are often confused with indigestion.
  • Palpitations.
  • Fear or a sense of 'imminent doom'
  • Sweat.
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting.



Symptoms of a heart attack in females:

Medical research over the past few years has shown that women may have the symptoms listed above, but they are also more likely to experience symptoms other than those listed above. Women are less likely to describe the following: There is none.


  • Chest pain, especially in the middle of the chest.
  • A disease that feels like indigestion.


Women tend to describe:


  • Shortness of breath, fatigue, and insomnia began before the heart attack.
  • Back, shoulder, neck, arm, or abdominal pain.
  • Nausea and vomiting.


What Happens During a Heart Attack?

When a heart attack occurs, blood flow to a part of the heart stops or falls far below normal, and that part of the heart muscle dies. When a part of the heart dies from lack of blood flow and can no longer pump, the entire heart's pumping sequence can be disrupted. This can reduce or even stop blood flow to the rest of the body, which can be fatal if not corrected quickly.


What Causes Heart Attacks?

Most heart attacks occur because one of the blood vessels that supply the heart is blocked. This is mainly caused by plaque. It's a sticky substance that can build up inside your arteries (much like pouring the grease into your kitchen sink clogs your home's plumbing). This buildup is called atherosclerosis.


As plaque builds up in the coronary (heart) arteries, they can rupture or rupture, and clots can become lodged in the ruptured areas. When a blood clot blocks an artery, it can pull blood out of the heart muscle and cause a heart attack.


It is possible to have a heart attack without obstruction, but this is rare and accounts for only about 5% of all heart attacks. This type of heart attack can occur for the following reasons:


Arterial Spasms: Blood vessels have a muscular lining that can widen or narrow as needed. These muscles sometimes spasm or spasm, blocking blood flow to the heart muscle.


Infrequent medical condition An example of this is a disease that causes abnormal narrowing of blood vessels.

Trauma: This includes a laceration or rupture of a coronary artery.


Blockages originating elsewhere in the body:

A blood clot or air sac that becomes trapped in a coronary artery (embolism).


Electrolyte imbalance: Too much or too few important minerals such as potassium in the blood can cause a heart attack.


Eating Disorders: Eating disorders can damage the heart over time and eventually lead to a heart attack.


Who is at the highest risk of a heart attack?

Several important factors influence the risk of a heart attack. Unfortunately, some of these risk factors are beyond your control.


  • age and gender.
  • Family history of heart disease.
  • A history of preeclampsia (a condition that can occur during pregnancy).


How are heart attacks diagnosed?

Heart attacks are usually diagnosed in the emergency room. Health care providers diagnose heart attacks based on the following:


Medical history and symptoms: Your health care provider will ask you about any symptoms you are experiencing. If someone was with you, the provider may ask them to explain what happened.


Laboratory tests: A heart attack causes certain chemical markers to appear in the blood. Cardiac-specific diagnostic tests: These include tests that detect and record the electrical activity of the heart.


Imaging tests: These tests allow your healthcare provider to "see" inside your heart. Many of these tests can also show the location of blood flow interruptions to guide treatment.


What tests are done to diagnose this condition?

People with symptoms of a heart attack should undergo a physical examination, which includes checking the pulse, blood oxygen level, blood pressure, and listening to heart and lung sounds. Other tests used to diagnose heart attacks include:


Electrocardiogram (ECG or abbreviated ECG): This is one of the first tests done when someone shows up in the emergency room with symptoms of a heart attack. This test uses sensors called electrodes that are attached to the skin of the breast. The electrodes pick up the heart's electrical activity and display it as waves on a display or print.


By looking at the waves, health care providers can see the strength and timing of the electrical signals passing through the heart. If the signal is not properly propagated, the waveform may change, indicating a heart attack or similar problem. A heart attack ECG is usually done continuously to monitor changes in heart activity.


STEMI and non-STEMI heart attack

The waves of the heart's electrical signals are divided into sections starting with P and ending with U using the letters of the alphabet. A particular section of the wave, the ST segment, shows activity in the two lower chambers of the heart. These chambers are the left ventricle and the right ventricle.


The ST segment is usually very flat, but heart attacks that affect the ventricles often cause the ST segment to be much higher than normal. Medical professionals call this type of heart attack an ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). Heart attacks are generally divided into the-STEMI and non-STEMI categories, with STEMI heart attacks usually being more serious.


The blood test. During a heart attack, the damage to the heart muscle cells most often causes chemical markers to appear in the bloodstream. A blood test looking for this marker is one of the most reliable ways to diagnose a heart attack.

Certain types of tests can provide cardiac images or computer-generated images. These include:


Echocardiography: This test uses ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves), similar to how bats use ultrasound to detect obstacles, like sonar. Ultrasound waves pass through and bounce off different parts of the heart at different velocities. An echocardiogram can use this information to create images of the inside and outside of the heart.


Angiography: In this test, a dye-like substance that can be easily seen on an x-ray is injected into the blood and then x-rays are taken. This allows the doctor to see areas with little or no blood flow.


Computed tomography (CT) of the heart: This imaging test uses x-rays and computers to make very detailed scans of the heart.


Cardiac MRI: This test uses a strong magnetic field and computer processing to make pictures of the heart.


Cardiac nuclear scans: Similar to angiography, these scans inject a radioactive dye into the blood. The difference from angiography is the use of computer-assisted methods such as computed tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET).


How are heart attacks treated?

Treating a heart attack means restoring blood flow to the affected heart muscle as quickly as possible. This can be done in several ways, from medications to surgery. Some of the following methods are very likely to be used for treatment.


supplemental oxygen

People who have difficulty breathing or have low blood oxygen levels are often given supplemental oxygen along with other heart attack treatments. Oxygen can be drawn through a tube just below the nose or through a mask that fits over the nose and mouth. This increases oxygen circulation in the blood and eases the heart dosage.


Anticoagulants: Includes aspirin and other anticoagulants.


Nitroglycerin: This drug is used to relieve chest pain. It is also a powerful vasodilator, widening blood vessels for easier blood flow.


Thrombolytic (thrombolytic) drugs: These intravenous (IV) drugs break down and dissolve blood clots. These drugs are usually only used within the first 12 hours after a heart attack. Antiarrhythmic drugs: Heart attacks can often cause heart failure


Pain relievers: The most common pain reliever given during heart attack treatment is morphine. This can help relieve chest pain.


How can I reduce my risk of a heart attack?

Although there are some uncontrollable risk factors, there are many ways to help yourself and reduce your risk of heart attack. These include:


Schedule a checkup: Find your doctor and make sure he goes for a checkup or spa at least once a year. A yearly checkup can detect early signs of heart disease. This includes things like blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol levels.


Quit Tobacco Products: This includes smokeless tobacco and all e-cigarette products.


Exercise Regularly: Aim for 20-30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.


heart attack


Eat healthy including the Mediterranean diet and the Dash diet. A plant-based diet is a great alternative.


heart attack



Maintain a healthy weight: Your GP can advise you on healthy weight goals and provide resources and guidance to help you reach them.


Manage existing health conditions: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and more.


Reduce stress: Consider techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, and meditation.


Taking Medications: Don't take medications only when you're thinking about them or when you're seeing a doctor.


Keep regular doctor appointments: Regular visits to your doctor may reveal heart problems or other medical conditions you didn't know you had. This will also allow the problem to be resolved sooner or later.


Being a positive contributor to your health doesn't mean you have to change your lifestyle entirely. Seek help from your primary care physician or other providers on your health care team. They can provide the information and resources they need and direct them to useful services. If you have already had a heart attack, your doctor may recommend a cardiac rehabilitation program.


The goal of this program is to reduce the risk of a second heart attack. These medically supervised programs offer count counsel focused on the same healthy lifestyle goals as above.