Heart attack occurs when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked. The blockage in heart arteries(coronary arteries) is buildup of fat and cholesterol. This blockage is called plaque formation.
This plaque either is big enough in size to obstruct blood flow in arteries or breaks away and forms a clot, which interrupt blood flow to heart muscle and causes damage to local part.
Heart attack symptoms
Common cardiac attack signs and symptoms are:
- Chest pain, Pressure, Tightness, pain, or a squeezing sensation in your chest with or without arm, neck, jaw or back discomfort
- Gastritis, Nausea, abdominal or chest burning
- Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
- Cold sweat
- Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness
Symptoms of myocardial infarction varies from person to person, chest pain be mild to severe, breathlessness can be or can not be there and few people don’t have any symptoms ( diabetic patients).
Mostly heart attacks strike suddenly, but many people have warning signs and symptoms hours, days or weeks in advance. The earliest warning might be recurrent chest pain or pressure (angina) that’s triggered by exertion and relieved by rest. Angina is caused by a temporary decrease in blood flow to the heart.
Causes of heart attack
Commonest cause of having a heart attack is high level of cholesterol and fat consumption, which deposit in your arteries and forms plaque. Many other factor like our lifestyle, our genetic or family history also land you in a heart attack.
Another cause of a heart attack is a spasm of a coronary artery that shuts down blood flow to part of the heart muscle. Using tobacco and illicit drugs, such as cocaine, can cause a life-threatening spasm.
There are factors which contribute in building up unwanted fat deposits in our arteries and result in narrowing of the arteries or plaque formation. Some of the factors can be eliminated and chances of having myocardial infarction can be reduced.
Risk factors are:
- Age. If your age is more than 50 then you have more chances of heart attack than a younger male or female.
- Smoking. Active or passive smoking builds up calcium ( rock like substance) in in your arteries which is severe is different from plaques.
- High blood pressure. Over time, high blood pressure can damage arteries that feed your heart.
- High blood cholesterol
- Obesity. Obesity is associated with high blood cholesterol levels, high triglyceride levels, high blood pressure and diabetes and is indirectly a direct cause of myocardial infarction.
- Diabetes. Diabetic patient are more prone to deposit more cholesterol and uncontrolled insulin levels also causes heart attack.
- Family history of heart attack. If your siblings, parents or grandparents have had early heart attacks (by age 55 for male relatives and by age 65 for female relatives), you might be at increased risk.
- Illicit drugs. Using stimulant drugs, such as cocaine or amphetamines, can trigger a spasm of your coronary arteries that can cause a heart attack.
Heart attack can be and can not be associated with complications, which can be:
- Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
- Heart failure
- Sudden cardiac arrest. Without warning, your heart stops due to an electrical disturbance that causes an arrhythmia. Heart attacks increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest, which can be fatal without immediate treatment.
It’s never too late to take steps to prevent a myocardial infarction — even if you’ve already had one. Here are ways to prevent a heart attack.
- Regular medical checkup specially if you have any family cardiac history or you are above 40
- Avoid smoking and binge drinking
- Make lifestyle changes, eat healthy and exercise daily
When to see a Doctor
When you experience any of heart attack symptom you have to act immediately, because time is your muscle. More quickly you’ll act, more muscle damage you can save. Some people wait too long because they don’t recognize the important signs and symptoms. Take these steps:
- Call for ambulance
- Take nitroglycerin, if your blood pressure isn’t very low
- Take aspirin if no history of bleeding