Heart attack: Symptoms, causes, prevention and treatment

Heart attack also known as myocardial infarction – According to CDC In USA, about 659,000 people die annually from heart disease.  The most formidable and deadly heart disease is heart attack. It is characterized by necrosis (death) of a portion of the heart muscle due to a sharp cessation of blood flow with oxygenated blood.  Occurs due to coronary artery thrombosis.

Heart attack
Heart attack

Causes of heart attack

As a rule, diseases become the cause of a heart attack:

  • atherosclerosis – cholesterol plaques that narrow the lumen of the coronary artery, restrict the flow of blood to the heart muscle;
  • increased blood clotting, which can lead to blockage of the heart vessel – the coronary artery,
  • angina pectoris – before a myocardial infarction, about half of people experience attacks of angina pectoris during physical exertion, which quickly disappear when activity stops. Therefore, a patient with angina pectoris should be under the supervision of a cardiologist in order to prevent the development of myocardial infarction.

The development of the disease is facilitated by: diabetes mellitus, hypertension, obesity, psycho-emotional overstrain, alcohol consumption, smoking.

Heart attack symptoms

Depending on the form of the disease, the symptoms of heart attack manifest themselves in different ways.

  1. The anginal form is the most common. It is manifested by intolerable pain in the chest, sometimes radiating to the right or left shoulder and arm, under the scapula, to the left half of the chest, and the lower jaw. The pain is comparable to a severity or burning sensation, and is usually accompanied by a fear of death.
  2. In asthmatic form, shortness of breath occurs, a feeling of lack of air, and suffocation occurs.
  3. The abdominal form proceeds with pain in the upper abdomen, nausea, and vomiting. It is often difficult to distinguish between the signs of heart attack in these symptoms.
  4. With an arrhythmic form, damage to the heart muscle provokes heart rhythm disturbances . The first is a feeling of palpitations or palpitations of the heart, shortness of breath, dizziness and other nonspecific complaints.  May be complicated by cardiac arrest or sudden death.
  5. The painless form is most often found in patients with diabetes mellitus or in the elderly over 70 years of age. The transferred heart attack is discovered much later and, as a rule, by accident.

It is important to remember that heart attack is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. The future of a person depends on the speed of rendering assistance. If you find symptoms, seek immediate help by calling an ambulance.

Diagnosis of heart attack

The examination of the patient begins with an interview. It is necessary to talk to the doctor about the symptoms and complaints, this is important because  existing heart disease can develop and progress to a myocardial infarction. After interviewing the doctor, a physical examination is carried out: the heart is listened to, the pulse is measured, external signs of the disease are noted (swelling, discoloration of the skin). Laboratory tests and instrumental studies are prescribed.

A biochemical blood test is taken for a troponin test, which can detect even minor myocardial damage. Elevated levels of troponin in the blood are observed for several weeks after the heart attack.

Tests for heart attack:

  • ECG;
  • ECHO;
  • CT and MRI of the heart;
  • coronary angiography – the introduction of a contrast agent to study the patency of coronary arteries using X-ray;
  • scintigraphy – the introduction of radioactive isotopes into the body and obtaining a two-dimensional image due to their accumulation and radiation.

Timely examination is the first step to preventing the onset and development of the disease.

Prevention of heart attacks

To reduce the risk of heart attack and prevent relapse, you must adhere to a healthy lifestyle:

  • quit smoking;
  • stop drinking alcohol (WHO says there is no safe daily alcohol intake);
  • eat a balanced diet (exclude sweets and sugar, fast food, eat vegetables, etc.);
  • exercise (WHO recommends at least 2 hours a week of moderate physical activity, and 75 minutes of high activity);
  • avoid chronic stress;
  • regularly undergo routine medical examinations for the timely detection and treatment of heart diseases, against the background of which heart attack develops.
  • be examined regularly by a doctor to minimize the risks of heart attack.

Treatment for heart attack

With heart attack, the patient needs hospitalization. After stopping the crisis, the patient is placed in a cardiac intensive care unit.  Depending on the nature of the course of the disease, the doctor chooses the tactics of treatment:

  • Instrumental treatment is carried out from the first minutes of the patient’s admission. A cardiac surgeon may recommend coronary angioplasty (restoration of a blocked vessel by inserting a special balloon and a stent through a catheter, which inflates and presses plaque against the vessel walls, restoring blood flow.
  • Drug therapy – carried out in the acute period.  Anticoagulants, antithrombotic substances, B-blockers, nitrates are used. Pain syndrome is relieved with the help of analgesics and antipsychotics, intravenous administration of nitroglycerin.

Dr. Ashwani Kumar is highly skilled and experienced in treating major and minor general medicine diseases.