What is a Heart Attack?
When the blood supply to the heart is blocked, it’s called a heart attack.
Each year, more than one million Americans suffer from heart attacks. Myocardial infarctions (MI) are heart attacks. “Myo” is a muscle, “cardinal”, refers to the heart and “infarction” is when tissue dies due to a shortage of blood. This can cause permanent damage to your heart muscle.
Heart Attack Symptoms
Heart attacks can be characterized by the following symptoms:
- Feelings of discomfort, pressure, heaviness or tightness in your chest, arm, or below your breastbone.
- Feeling pain in your back, jaw or throat?
- It could feel like heartburn, indigestion or fullness
- Sweating upset stomach, vomiting or dizziness
- Severe weakness, anxiety or fatigue
- You can have a fast or slow heartbeat
Different symptoms can occur depending on the person and from one heart attack to the next. These symptoms are more common in women.
- Unusual fatigue
- Breathing difficulties
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Feeling uncomfortable in your stomach. You may feel it as indigestion.
- You feel discomfort in your neck, shoulder or upper back
Some heart attacks don’t cause symptoms. This is called a “silent myocardial injury”. This is more common for people with type 2 diabetes.
Angina doesn’t indicate a disease or condition. It is a symptom and can sometimes indicate a heart attack. These sensations can occur during normal activities, exertion, and then disappear with rest or taking Nitroglycerin.
It is possible to feel:
- Pressure, pain or a feeling of fullness in your chest
- Pain or discomfort in the arm, shoulder, arm or back.
If it persists for more than five minutes or does not improve after taking nitroglycerin, call 911. It’s a condition doctors call “unstable angina” and could indicate a possible heart attack.
Instead, you may have stable angina. This is the most common type. Your symptoms are usually triggered by strong emotions, physical activity extreme temperatures or heavy meals. If you take the prescribed nitroglycerin or rest, your symptoms will disappear. Call 911 if you are not sure.
Causes of Heart Attack
The constant flow of oxygen-rich blood is vital for your heart muscles. This vital blood supply is provided by your coronary arteries. When your coronary artery disease progresses, the arteries narrow and blood doesn’t flow as efficiently as it should. A heart attack is a blockage of blood supply.
Plaques are formed when fatty, calcium and proteins build up in your arteries. Plaque deposits can be hard on the outside, but soft and mushy inside.
The outer shell cracks when the plaque becomes hard. This is known as a rupture. This is called a rupture. Your heart muscle will become starved of oxygen if a blood clot blocks an artery. This causes permanent damage to the muscle cells.
A spasm in the coronary artery may cause a heart attack. Your arteries can narrow or spasm and cut off blood supply to your heart muscle during a coronary spasm ( ischemia). Even if you have no serious coronary artery disease, it can occur at rest.
Each coronary artery supplies blood to a different area of your heart muscle. The extent of damage to the muscle depends on how large the blockage is and how long it has been between attack and treatment.
After a heart attack, your heart muscle begins to heal quickly. This process takes approximately 8 weeks. The scarring process is similar to a skin injury. However, the scar tissue isn’t moving the way it should. After a heart attack, your heart won’t be able to pump as well. The scar’s location and size will determine how much of your ability to pump.
What do I do if my heart stops beating?
You need immediate treatment for a blocked artery. Call 911 immediately if you feel the symptoms of a heart attack. It is best to get treatment for a heart attack within one or two hours of symptoms arising. You have a greater chance of dying if you wait longer.
You can take aspirin (3325 mg) if you have called emergency services and are still waiting for them to arrive. Aspirin can reduce your risk of dying from a heart attack by 25%.
What should I do if someone else has a heart attack?
If someone is in cardiac arrest (when the heartbeat stops and the person isn’t responding), call 911 to initiate CPR (cardiopulmonary reperfusion). CPR does not restart the heart, but it can keep the person alive until medical assistance arrives.
An AED (automated exterior defibrillator), is a simple device that can be used to treat cardiac arrest. It is easily accessible in most public places. The device shocks the heart into normal rhythm.
How to use an AED?
1. Verify responsiveness
- If you are an adult or an older child, shout at them and shake their hands to verify that they are awake. AEDs should not be used on conscious people.
- Pinch the skin of an infant or young child. Never shake a youngster.
- You should check your pulse and breathing. If your pulse is irregular or absent, you should immediately use the AED.
2. Prepare for AED use
- You should ensure that the person is dry and away from water or puddles.
- You should check for any body piercings or the outline of an implanted medical gadget such as a pacemaker and implantable defibrillator.
- Place AED pads at least 1″ away from implanted or pierced devices.
3. AED can be used
Use a pediatric AED if you can for infants, newborns, and children under 8 years old. If you are unable to use a pediatric AED, please use an adult one.
- Turn on the AED.
- Dry the chest.
- Attach pads
- If necessary, plug in the connector
- Be sure to keep your hands off of the person.
- Click the “Analyze” button.
- If shock is recommended, make sure to check again to ensure that no one is touching the person.
- Press the “Shock” button.
- Compressions can be resumed or started again.
- Follow the AED prompts.
4. Continue CPR
- After 2 minutes of CPR continue to check the person’s heart rhythm. Give them another shock if it is still not there or is uneven.
- Continue CPR until emergency assistance arrives or the person starts to move.
- Keep your hands on the person until help arrives.
Diagnosis of Heart Attack
Emergency medical personnel will interview you about your symptoms and perform tests.
Diagnostic tests for a heart attack
You may be asked by your doctor to perform the following tests:
EKG Also known as anElectrocardiogramThis is also known as the ECG. It records the electrical activity of your body. the heart can tell you how much of your heart muscle has been damaged and where. It can detect how damaged your heart muscle is and where. It can monitor your heart rate and blood pressure. Heart rate and rhythm.
Blood tests ManyBloodTests, which are often performed every 4-8 hours, can help diagnose a condition. Heart attackIdentify any ongoing damage to your heart. Heart muscle damage can be indicated by different levels of cardiac enzymes found in your blood. These enzymes are normally found in the cells of your heart. These enzymes can be released into your bloodstream when the cells of your heart are damaged. Your doctor will be able to determine the extent of your heart attack by measuring the enzyme levels. Troponin levels can also be measured by tests. Troponins, which are proteins found in heart cells, are released when there is a lack of blood supply.
Echocardiography This is how it works UltrasoundTo create images, sound waves bounce off your heart and are used to test it. This can be used to determine if your heart is pumping properly and which areas are not. The “echo” Can also determine if any of your heart’s parts (valves, septum etc.) have been damaged. sustaining a heart attack.
If medications don’t help the symptoms or ischemia, you might need cardiac catheterization (also known as cardiac cath). Cardiac catheterization can provide a picture of the blocked artery to help your doctor determine the best treatment.
A catheter, which is a thin hollow tube, is inserted into your wrist or groin and then threaded to your heart. To highlight the arteries of your heart, dye is used. The doctor will then be able to identify blocked arteries and open them with stents or angioplasty. This can restore blood flow and improve blood flow. You may need to have several tests done by your doctor to evaluate your heart. If cardiac catheterization is not possible, an intravenous blood thinner can be used to open the artery.
Stress Testing: A doctor can perform a test on your treadmill you can also have a radionuclide scan done to determine if other parts of your heart are at risk.
Heart Attack Treatment
A heart attack is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention to prevent permanent damage or death. If you call 911, treatment often starts in an ambulance.
What drugs can be used to treat heart attacks?
You’ll be quickly given drugs at the hospital or emergency room to stop blood clotting and reduce strain on your heart. Drug therapy is used to prevent or break up blood clots, prevent platelets from sticking to plaque, stabilize plaque and prevent further ischemia.
To prevent any heart damage, you should take these medications right away (preferably within 1 to 2 hours of the start of your heart attack).
Some drugs used in a heart attack include:
- Aspirin to prevent blood clotting, which may make the heart attack more severe
- Clopidogrel, prasugrel (Effient), and ticagrelor are other antiplatelet drugs that can be used to stop clotting
- To dissolve blood clots within your heart’s arteries, you can use thrombolytic therapy (or “clot busters”)
- These can be combined
Other medications given after or during a heart attack can help improve your heart’s function, increase blood flow, reduce pain and prevent life-threatening rhythms.
Is there another treatment for heart attacks?
The cardiac catheter can also be used to take a picture of your arteries and open blocked or narrowed arteries (such as angiography or Stent).
If necessary, this treatment can be performed during cardiac catheterization. The blocked artery is opened by inserting a balloon-tipped catheter (thin hollow tube) into the heart. To open the blocked artery and increase blood flow, the balloon is gently inflated to push plaque outwards against the walls. This is usually done with a stent.
Placement of a stent:
This procedure involves inserting a small tube through a catheter into an obstructed artery to “prop it open.” Permanent stents are usually made from metal. You can have it made from a material your body absorbs over time. Some stents contain medicine to prevent the artery from becoming blocked again.
In order to restore blood flow to your heart, you might be able to bypass surgery. The surgeon will redirect blood flow around the blocked artery using a blood vessel usually taken from your chest or leg. Multiple arteries can be bypassed.
What happens in the coronary unit (CCU).
A heart attack can result in you being hospitalized for 24 to 36 hours. After you have passed the critical phase, you can continue to receive a variety of drugs including:
- Beta-blockers are used to slow down the heartbeat
- Increase heart blood flow with nitrates
- To prevent further clotting, blood thinners like Plavix, Brilinta or Clopidogrel are prescribed.
- ACE Inhibitors to aid the heart muscle healing
- Statins, cholesterol-lowering drugs like simvastatin or atorvastatin, are used to heal the heart muscle and reduce the chance of another heart attack.
If you have unusual heart rhythms, the medical staff will monitor you in the hospital.
A pacemaker is a device that charges batteries and helps maintain a steady heartbeat. A dangerous arrhythmia, also known as ventricular fibrillation or ventricular fibrillation will be treated by medical professionals.
The treatment of coronary artery disease is not a cure. Another heart attack can still occur. You can make it less likely by taking steps.
Heart Attack Prevention Tips
After a heart attack, the goal is to maintain a healthy heart and reduce your chances of another one. Keep your medication as prescribed, follow a healthy lifestyle, visit your doctor regularly for heart checkups, and consider a cardiac rehabilitation plan.
What are the reasons I have to take medication after a heart attack or stroke?
After a heart attack, you might be able to take certain drugs.
- Prevent blood clots
- Make your heart work harder
- Prevent plaques by lowering cholesterol
You may need to take medication to treat irregular heartbeats, lower blood pressure, manage chest pain, or treat heart failure.
Be familiar with the names and uses of your medications. Discuss your medication with your doctor. Make a list of all your medications and bring it with you to your appointments. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.
Although it sounds simple, don’t forget to take your medication. Many people don’t take their medication as prescribed by their doctor. Ask your doctor to help you identify the reasons why you aren’t taking your medication as prescribed. It could be side effects, cost or forgetfulness.
What lifestyle changes should you make after a heart attack or stroke?
Follow the advice of your doctor to prevent heart disease from getting worse. Your lifestyle may need to be changed. These are some lifestyle changes that you can make to reduce your risk and get you on the right track to a happier life.
Smoking significantly increases your risk of stroke and heart attack. Talk to your doctor to learn how to stop smoking. It will also help your family and friends, as secondhand smoking can cause heart disease. You can also call 800-QUIT-NOW to visit the smokefree.gov website.
Maintain a healthy weight
You don’t need to lose weight if you are obese or overweight to lower your chances of a stroke or heart attack. You can lower your cholesterol and blood sugar levels by losing 5% to 10% of what you weigh.
Follow the exercise program
Your chances of having a heart attack are lower if you do moderate physical activity. You can also lower your blood pressure, LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase your HDL (good), and maintain a healthy weight.
At least 30 minutes of cardio exercise should be done five days per week. Swimming or brisk walking are good options. Do strength training like lifting weights on the remaining 2 days. Break down your exercise program into smaller chunks if you have a tight time schedule.
A heart-healthy diet is recommended:
You can fill your plate with a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans, and lean proteins, including poultry without skin. You should also increase your intake of whole grains such as oatmeal, quinoa and brown rice, and of fish, particularly those that contain omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, trout and herring.
Omega-3s are also found in avocados, flaxseeds, olive oil, and flaxseeds. Some nuts and seeds also contain omega-3s. Low-fat or fat-free dairy products like milk, yoghurt, cheese, and butter are better for your heart health than high-fat varieties.
Reduce your intake of unhealthy foods
Avoid processed and prepared foods, which are often high in added sugar. These foods are also loaded with preservatives. Avoid butter, fatty meats, fried foods, and oily palm. Saturated fats are abundant in all of these foods.
Avoid sugary drinks such as sodas and fruit punch. They can cause weight gain. Packaged baked goods like cookies, cakes, and pie can also be harmful. These baked goods are high in trans fats, which can increase your cholesterol.
Limit your intake of alcohol
Don’t drink if you don’t already. Limit how much alcohol you consume if you already drink. If you’re a woman, you should limit your intake to one drink per day and two for men. Drinking can increase your blood pressure and heart rate. Drinking can also increase the amount of fat in your body and cause weight gain.
Regularly check your cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose, and blood sugar levels.
Diabetes must be controlled. You can monitor your numbers to help you make informed decisions about how to maintain normal levels.
Sometimes you may feel anxious or frustrated. Talk to your loved ones and friends about your feelings. You can find support groups that will help you understand how others have adjusted to life following a stroke or heart attack.
Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional about a stress management plan. Meditation and physical activity are two other ways to reduce stress.
Pay attention to your symptoms
Do not assume they will disappear. If you experience any unusual symptoms, such as shortness of breath, heart rhythm changes, or tiredness, consult your doctor immediately. You should also be on the lookout for symptoms like pain in your jaw, back, nausea, vomiting, sweating, and flu-like symptoms.
Why should I participate in cardiac rehabilitation?
Your doctor might recommend cardiac rehabilitation if you have had a heart attack, or been diagnosed with heart disease. To improve your health and prevent future problems, you’ll be partnered with experts.
You may have doctors and nurses as part of your team. They will create a program that suits your needs. They may also be able to help you make positive changes in your life. It can make a huge difference in your recovery process and overall well-being if you keep at it.
What time will I be able to see my doctor after I have left the hospital?
After you have left the hospital after a heart attack, make a visit to your doctor for four to six weeks. Your doctor will want you to assess your recovery. A stress test might be necessary on a regular basis. These tests will help your doctor determine if there are any blockages in your coronary vessels and plan your treatment.
If you experience chest pain, particularly if it is more frequent, worsens, lasts longer or spreads to other areas, shortness of breath, especially when you are resting, dizziness, irregular heartbeats, or other symptoms, you should call your doctor.