How many of us have horrible memories from this word “heart attack.” It is a common term, and there are many myths or fallacies about it. The best way for heart attack awareness is to know everything you need to know about it.
World Heart Day is celebrated on the 29th of September. The only reason to celebrate this day is to bring awareness to the people about the disease. Due to the wrong routine and harmful food nowadays, many people are becoming heart patients, resulting in an untimely upcoming heart attack.
Your heart is one of the most important organs of your body. The heart is a muscle pump that is slightly larger than your fist. Virtually a pump, the heart is a muscle made of four chambers separated by valves and divided into two parts.
Each half has a section called the atrium, and one is called the ventricle. The atria (plural for the atrium) collects blood, and the ventricle contracts to eject blood from the heart. The right half of the heart pumps oxygen-poor blood (blood with a low amount of oxygen) to the lungs, where blood cells can receive more oxygen.
Then, newly oxygenated blood travels from the lungs to the left atrium and left ventricle. The left ventricle pumps newly oxygenated blood to body parts and tissues. This oxygen provides energy to your body and is necessary to keep your body healthy.
But did you think what will happen if the most important part of your body will suddenly stop working, which means a heart attack or heart failure? Did you ever imagine this, here we will give you all the complete details about heart attack, like what is a heart attack? What causes a heart attack? And so much more. So, let’s begin with the first topic.
What is a Heart Attack?
A myocardial infarction (MI), commonly known as a heart attack, occurs when a coronary artery supplying your heart with blood and oxygen becomes stops flowing to a part of the heart, causing the muscle cells to die.
In general words- A heart attack occurs when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked. The blockage is often a buildup of fat, cholesterol, and other substances, which form a plaque in the arteries that feed the heart (coronary arteries). If a plaque ruptures, a blood clot can form and block your arteries, causing a heart attack.
During a heart attack, the tissue in your heart muscle dies due to decreased blood flow to your heart’s arteries. Sometimes, a plaque may rupture and form a clot that blocks blood flow. Interrupted blood flow can damage or destroy part of the heart muscle.
The longer the blockage is left untreated, the greater the loss. Without immediate treatment to restore blood flow, it can cause permanent heart damage.
What are the symptoms of a Heart Attack?
Heart attack symptoms typically follow a classical pattern. This list includes several common signs and symptoms of myocardial infarction. The patient does not need to have every item on the list to be having a heart attack; often, Heart attack patients will report the chest pain as the worst pain they’ve ever felt.
It certainly doesn’t have to be that way, but many people ignore their symptoms. If you feel a severe and dull pain in your chest that does not change when you move or take a deep breath, it is essential to call 911 immediately.
Common heart attack signs and symptoms of Heart attacks can include:
- Discomfort, pressure, heaviness, tightness, squeezing.
- The pain or discomfort that goes into your chest (angina), arm, or below your breastbone
- Pain or discomfort in your back, jaw, throat, or shoulders
- The feeling of fullness, indigestion, or suffocation (this may sound like heartburn)
- Sweating, mostly a cold sweat.
- Nausea or vomiting, upset stomach, or dizziness
- Severe weakness, anxiety, fatigue, or shortness of breath
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
Heart attack symptoms vary.
A heart attack’s symptoms can vary significantly from person to person or from one heart attack to another. All people do not have the same myocardial infarction symptoms or have the same severity of symptoms. However, the more signs and symptoms you have, the more likely you will have a heart attack.
About 30% of people have atypical symptoms. Some heart attacks are sudden trauma, but many have signs, symptoms, warning hours, days, or weeks. The first warning may be recurrent chest pain or pressure (angina) that begins with activity and relieves rest. Angina is caused by a temporary decrease in blood flow to the heart.
With some heart attacks, you will not notice any symptoms (a “silent” myocardial infarction) where you do not experience pain or where the only warning sign may be an indigestion type. It is more common in people who have diabetes.
Learn more about the Signs and Symptoms of heart attacks.
What are heart attack symptoms in a woman?
Heart attack symptoms may be different in women than in men. Women have more symptoms such as stomach irritation, shortness of breath, or pain in the back or jaw. or fatigue. This is possible because women are more likely to have blockages in their main coronary arteries and tiny coronary artery blood vessels that branch off from the main ones. This is called coronary microvascular disease.
Learn more about heart attacks in women.
What Causes Heart Attacks?
Approximately seven million people around the world die from heart attacks every year. And cardiovascular disease, which causes heart attacks and other problems like strokes, is the world’s leading killer. So what causes a heart attack?
The most common cause of myocardial infarction is coronary artery disease (CAD), or rupture of an atherosclerotic plaque on an artery supplying the heart muscle. There is a buildup of cholesterol and other material called plaque on the arteries’ inner walls with CAD.
Plague is the main culprit behind most heart attacks. The plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, and other ingredients. When the plaque ruptures, a blood clot forms around it, This can block the flow of blood through the artery and cause damage the heart muscle. The blood then cannot pass further to the part of the heart. Thus due to lack of oxygen, the muscle cells of that part die.
Atherosclerosis may be a very long name that’s difficult to pronounce so, it really refers to “athero,” which talks about the vessels in our heart,” plus “sclerosis, which suggests fibrosis of these vessels.” and it’s the leading explanation for heart attacks worldwide. Atherosclerotic plaques are often present for many years before they result in symptoms.
Atherosclerosis is characterized by progressive inflammation of the walls of the arteries. Inflammatory cells, particularly macrophages, enter affected arterial walls. Over time, they become laden with cholesterol products, particularly LDL, and become foam cells. A cholesterol core forms as foam cells die. In response to growth factors secreted by macrophages, smooth muscle and other cells enter the plaque and act to stabilize it. A stable plaque may have a thick fibrous cap with calcification.
This foaming process creates a backlog of the fatty immune cells, which clog the vessel wall, with more and more cells clogging that pipe and creating a problem with blood flow. This often presents high blood pressure, which means the blood is trying to get through the vessel’s small area.
This can lead to a rupture. And when the rupture happens, then everything is released. This ends up in A clot, and you can have a heart attack, or that can break free and become loose and travel through your vessels, and cause a stroke if it goes into your brain.
Atherosclerosis is not the only cause of heart attacks, and it may exacerbate or contribute to other causes.
A myocardial infarction may result from a heart with a limited blood supply subject to increased oxygen demands, such as fever, a fast heart rate, hyperthyroidism, too few red blood cells in the bloodstream, or low blood pressure. Damage or failure of procedures such as percutaneous coronary intervention or coronary artery bypass grafts may cause a myocardial infarction.
Another cause of heart attacks is a spasm in your coronary artery that can cause myocardial infarction. Your arteries become restricted or cramped during this coronary spasm, which cuts off the blood supply to your heart muscle (ischemia). This can happen when you are resting, even if you do not have severe coronary artery disease. In addition, tobacco and illicit drugs, such as cocaine use, may cause life-threatening cramps.
How Painful is a Heart Attack?
Sudden chest pain is the most common heart attack symptom, but not all people experience it. The pain is often described as a pressure or squeezing sensation. Usually, it occurs in the center or left side of the chest and lasts for more than a few minutes, but it can be felt from armpit to armpit. Some people have only mild symptoms that come on gradually; others have more severe pain.
Not all chest pain is a symptom of heart attacks. Pain is unlikely to be related to the heart when:
- It is transient, lasting only for a few seconds.
- There is a prickling sensation.
- It is in a small, well-localized area of your chest.
- Reproduction can be done when you press on your chest or shake your arm.
- Radiation occurs under your abdomen and in your feet.
Risk factors of a Heart Attack
Many factors can increase your risk of getting heart disease. Some of these factors contribute to the undesired buildup of fatty deposits (atherosclerosis) that narrows arteries throughout your body. You can improve or reduce many of these risk factors by choosing a healthy lifestyle.
Some of the Heart attack risk factors you can control are includes:
- Age: Simply put, the older you get, the greater risk you run for developing heart disease. It is estimated that men aged 45 or older and women aged 55 or older are more likely to have a heart attack than younger men and women. Further, at older ages, women are much more likely to have a fatal heart attack than men.
- Tobacco: This includes smoking and long-term exposure to secondhand smoke.
- High blood pressure: Over time, high blood pressure can damage arteries that lead to your heart. High blood pressure that occurs with other conditions, such as obesity, high cholesterol, or diabetes, increases your risk even more.
- High blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels: A high level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) is most likely to narrow arteries. A high level of triglycerides, a type of blood fat related to your diet, also increases your risk of a heart attack. However, a high level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) may lower your risk.
- Obesity: Obesity is linked to high blood cholesterol levels, high triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Losing just 10% of your body weight can lower this risk.
- Diabetes: Not producing enough of a hormone secreted by your pancreas (insulin) or not responding to insulin appropriately causes your body’s blood sugar levels to rise, increasing your risk of a heart attack.
- Metabolic syndrome: This syndrome occurs when you have obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. Having metabolic syndrome makes you twice as likely to develop heart disease than if you don’t have it.
- Family history of heart attacks: A family history of heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension), and diabetes increases the chance you develop heart disease. If your siblings, parents, or grandparents have had early heart attacks (by age 55 for males and by age 65 for females), you might be at higher individual risk.
- Lack of physical activity: Being inactive contributes to high blood cholesterol levels and obesity. People who exercise regularly have better heart health, including lower blood pressure.
- Stress: You might respond to stress in ways that can increase your risk of a heart attack.
- Illicit drug use: Using stimulant drugs, such as cocaine or amphetamines, can trigger your coronary arteries’ spasm that can cause a heart attack.
- A history of preeclampsia: This condition causes high blood pressure during pregnancy and increases the lifetime risk of heart disease.
- An autoimmune condition: Having a situation such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus can increase your heart attack risk.
What to do if someone is having a heart attack?
If you think that someone might be having a myocardial infarction, the most important thing is to respond quickly. If you have access to emergency medical service, then call them. They have the fastest way to get to a hospital. Taking aspirin, which thins the blood, and nitroglycerine, which opens up the artery, can worsen the heart attack. The sooner a person gets treatment, the better chance they have at survival and recovery.
- Call 911 or your local emergency number: Do not attempt to ignore or harden the symptoms of a heart attack. Immediately try to access emergency medical services, Because paramedics are trained to treat people en route to the hospital and provide the fastest way to get there.
- Chew and swallow an aspirin: unless you are allergic to aspirin or have been told by your doctor never to take aspirin.
- Take nitroglycerin: if prescribed. If you think you’re having a heart attack and your doctor has previously prescribed nitroglycerin for you, take it as directed. Don’t take anyone else’s nitroglycerin because that could put you in more danger.
- Begin CPR if the person is unconscious: If you’re with an unconscious person, tell the 911 dispatcher or another emergency medical specialist. You may be advised to begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). If you haven’t received CPR training, doctors recommend performing only chest compressions (about 100 to 120 compressions a minute). The dispatcher can instruct you in the proper procedures until help arrives.
How to prevent a heart attack?
There have been exciting new developments in the area of understanding this disease and preventing it. Also, there are many things you can do by yourself besides the technology and doctors to reduce your chances of getting heart disease:
Control your blood pressure: High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease. It is crucial to have your blood pressure checked regularly – at least once a year for most adults.
Keep your cholesterol levels under control: High cholesterol levels can clog your arteries and raise your risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack. Lifestyle changes and medicines (if needed) can lower your cholesterol.
Stay at a healthy weight: Being overweight or having obesity can increase your risk of heart disease. This is mostly because they are linked to other heart disease risk factors. Controlling your weight can lower these risks.
Eat a healthy diet: Try to limit saturated fats, foods high in sodium, and added sugars. Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.
Get regular exercise: Exercise has many benefits, including strengthening your heart and improving your circulation. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. All of these can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Limit alcohol: Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. It also adds extra calories, which may cause weight gain. Both of those increase your risk of heart disease.
Don’t smoke: Cigarette smoking raises your blood pressure and puts you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. If you do not smoke, do not start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease.
Manage stress: Stress is linked to heart disease in many ways. It can raise your blood pressure. Extreme stress can be a “trigger” for a heart attack. Some ways to help manage your stress include exercise, listening to music, focusing on something calm or peaceful, and meditating.
Manage diabetes: Having diabetes doubles your risk of diabetic heart disease. That is because, over time, high blood sugar.
Get enough sleep: If you don’t get enough sleep, you raise your risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. Those three things can increase your risk of heart disease. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Make sure that you have good sleep habits. If you have frequent sleep problems, contact your health care provider.
Treatment of a Heart Attack:
A heart attack requires emergency treatment to restore blood flow to your heart. The faster this happens, the less the heart muscle is damaged. Heart attack treatments may involve medications or surgery.
In the Emergency Room, a doctor can diagnose a heart attack. They commonly use an electrocardiogram to measure the heart’s electrical activity and blood tests to assess heart muscle. The patient is then taken to a high-tech cardiac suite, where tests are done to locate the blockages.
The cardiologist can reopen the blocked artery by inflating it with a balloon in produce called an angioplasty. Frequently they also insert a metal or polymer stent that will hold the artery open. The most extensive block might require coronary artery bypass surgery.
Using a piece of vein or artery from another part of the body, heart surgeons can reroute blood flow around the blockage. These procedures re-establish circulation to the cardiac muscle, restoring Heart function.
Technology is improving every year to live after having these heart attacks a really great life and a full life. Heart Attack treatment is advancing, but prevention is significant. A heart attack is often fatal. Each day, a mean of 21 Australians die from a heart attack. One patient is admitted to an Australian hospital with a heart attack every nine minutes. Quite 1,000,000 Americans have heart attacks annually. In India, approx. 25% of families have heart disease. India has one of the very highest heart attack rates in the world.