What is Heart Attack

Dr Priya Sharma

Dr Priya Sharma

BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery), 6 years of experience

September 9, 2021 Heart Diseases 543 Views

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What is the meaning of Heart Attack?

A condition in which the blood flow to the heart is suddenly blocked is known as a heart attack or myocardial infarction. A heart attack can cause permanent damage to the heart muscle.

All the cells and organs have specific functions in the body. The heart is the main organ of our body; therefore, it is essential to keep it healthy. It functions to pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. If the arteries that supply blood to the heart become narrowed or blocked, it can result in a heart attack.

In India alone, every 35 seconds one person dies from a heart attack. Many people have become victims of heart attacks within the last year. 

Let us tell you in detail about heart attacks in today’s article.

  • What is a Heart Attack? 
  • What are the causes of Heart Attack?
  • What are the risk factors of Heart attack?
  • What are the symptoms of Heart Attack?
  • How to diagnose a Heart Attack?
  • What are the treatments for Heart Attack?
  • What are the complications of  Heart Attack?
  • How to prevent Heart Attack?

What is a Heart Attack? 

Heart attack is a disease of the heart. It occurs due to a blockage in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Due to this lack of blood supply, some part of the heart stops working, resulting in a heart attack. A heart attack is a fatal disease that may result in death.

What are the Causes of Heart Attacks?

  • Coronary artery disease: In this condition, a person may have a heart attack due to the damage to one or more coronary arteries (arteries that give blood supply to the heart). 
  • Atherosclerosis: High levels of cholesterol and other fatty substances in the blood can narrow the arteries by the buildup of plaque known as atherosclerosis. This results in the formation of a blood clot. If this clot gets bigger, a person can have a heart attack.
  • Coronary Artery Rupture – A heart attack may occur due to a rupture of the coronary artery. This condition is known as Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD). SCAD leads to lack or slowing of blood flow to the heart that can lead to a heart attack.
  • Spasm of the Coronary Artery- This is a condition where the muscles in the walls of the blood vessels supplying blood to the heart, get tightened. This decreases or may stop the blood supply to the heart muscles, leading to a heart attack. 

What are the risk factors of a Heart attack?

Some of the risk factors that may lead to a heart attack include:

  • Age: Men who are above 45 years of age and women who are above 55 years old have a higher possibility of having a heart attack as compared to younger men and women.
  • Smoking: Smoking and tobacco consumption can increase the chances of a heart attack.
  • Diabetes: When an adequate amount of insulin (a hormone secreted by the pancreas) is not produced by the body or the body does not respond well to insulin, it results in an increase in the blood sugar level of the body, causing an increased risk of having a heart attack. ( Know more about- What is Diabetes? What are the types of Diabetes? )
  • High blood pressure: High blood pressure may damage the arteries leading to the heart resulting in a heart attack. ( Know more about- What is High Blood Pressure? )
  • High triglyceride or blood cholesterol levels: A high level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol or bad cholesterol causes narrowing of the arteries causing a heart attack. A high level of triglycerides (a type of blood fat that is related to the diet) also increases the chances of a heart attack. ( Know more about- What is Cholesterol? )
  • Obesity: Obesity increases the chances of a heart attack. ( Know more about- What increases Obesity in children? )
  • Metabolic syndrome: It is a condition that occurs when an individual has high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and obesity. This syndrome enhances the chances of a heart attack.
  • Family history: A family history of heart attacks indicates a higher risk of a heart attack in an individual.
  • Stress: High level of stress may lead to a heart attack.
  • Lack of exercise: Inactivity may cause a heart attack.
  • Illicit drug use: The use of drugs like cocaine may lead to a spasm of the coronary arteries causing a heart attack.
  • Autoimmune diseases: Autoimmune conditions (when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues) like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis (the body’s immune system attacks joints and other internal organs) may increase the chances of a heart attack. 
  • History of preeclampsia: A complication occurring during pregnancy is called preeclampsia. This condition increases the risk of a heart attack.

What are the symptoms of a Heart Attack?

  • Burning in chest
  • Discomfort and pain in the chest or arm
  • Discomfort that may radiate from the chest region to the arm, back, jaw, or throat
  • Uneven or fast heartbeat
  • Dizziness. ( Know more about- What is Dizziness? Home remedies for dizziness )
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Fatigue (Know more about – What are the reasons for fatigue? )
  • Pressure on chest and arms
  • Extreme pain in the throat
  • Feeling anxious or nervous 

How to diagnose a Heart Attack?

  • The doctor will first physically examine the patient based on his symptoms and take into account the patient’s age, health, medical history, and family history for making a diagnosis.
  • The following tests may be carried out to confirm the diagnosis of a heart attack:
  • X-rays, CT scans, Echocardiogram: Are imaging tests done to see the internal organs of the body, including the heart, to diagnose heart problems.
  • Electrocardiography: It is done to measure the electrical activity in the heart.
  • Blood tests: Blood tests are done to confirm that a heart attack has occurred.
  • Cardiac catheterization: The inside of the heart is examined using this method.

What are the treatments for Heart Attacks?

The treatment of heart attack is determined by the doctor depending on the symptoms of the patient.

Medications:

  • If the patient’s symptoms are mild, the doctor may give some medications to prevent blood clots, prevent the gathering of the platelets and sticking to the plaque, stabilization of the plaque, and prevention of ischemia (when the heart doesn’t get enough blood) any further.
  • Medications should be given as soon as possible to reduce the damage caused to the heart muscle.
  • Some medications that may be given include thrombolytic medications (to break up the clots that block the arteries), aspirin, heparin, and other antiplatelet drugs.

Interventional Procedures: 

  • If the patient’s symptoms last for only 12 hours, the doctor may perform PCI (Percutaneous Coronary Intervention) or coronary angioplasty, and stent placement. This is done to open the blocked or narrowed arteries. 
  • These procedures may be combined with thrombolytic therapy (thrombolytic medications).

Coronary artery bypass surgery

  • If the patient’s symptoms last for more than 12 hours, then doctors suggest bypass surgery.  ( Know more about- What is Heart Bypass Surgery? )
  • This is done for restoring the blood supply to the heart.

What are the complications of a Heart Attack?

There may be some complications seen after a heart attack. Some of the complications are:

  • Arrhythmia: A condition in which the heartbeats are irregular.
  • Depression   
  • Edema: A condition of fluid accumulation and swelling in the legs and ankles.
  • Angina: Insufficient oxygen supply to the heart resulting in chest pain is called angina.
  • Aneurysm: This is a condition where the weakened part of the blood vessel wall balloons up and bulges out due increased blood pressure. It is considered to be fatal if it bursts, leading to stroke or massive bleeding and death.
  • Heart failure: The heart is unable to pump blood properly causing breathing difficulties, fatigue, and edema.
  • Myocardial rupture: A tear in a part of the heart due to the damage caused by a heart attack is called myocardial rupture.

How to Prevent a Heart Attack?

Heart attack can be prevented by taking the following precautions:

  • Quit smoking
  • Eat a balanced and healthy diet including fish, cheese, soybeans, fresh vegetables, oranges, pomegranates, grapes, berries, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, olive oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, wheat flour, green tea, etc.
  • Avoid consuming fried vegetables, fried meat, soft drinks, food with high salt, sweet items, white rice, etc. (Know more about- What are the Diet Plan for Heart Patients? )
  • Regular exercise
  • Limiting alcohol consumption
  • Maintenance of healthy body weight
  • Avoiding stress
  • Management of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol levels

We hope we have answered all your questions about the Heart Attack through this article.

If you want to get more information about Heart Attack and its treatment, then immediately contact a Cardiologist.

We only aim to give you information through this article and do not recommend medication or treatment in any way. Only a doctor can give you good advice and the correct treatment plan.

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