Heart Attack – Causes, Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

Any of a number of conditions that can affect the heart. Some examples include coronary heart disease, heart attack, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary heart disease and high blood pressure. Heart disease is a big problem in today’s society because of lifestyle issues such as poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking.

Heart attack (myocardial infarction or coronary thrombosis) is when part of the heart muscle dies because it has been starved of oxygen. . It can occur as a result of one or two effects of atherosclerosis:

(1) If the artery becomes completely blocked and ischemia becomes so extensive that oxygen-bearing tissues around the heart die.

(2) If the plaque itself develops fissures or tears. Blood platelets adhere to the site to seal off the plaque, and a blood clot (thrombus) forms. A heart attack can then occur if the formed blood clot completely blocks the passage of oxygen-rich blood to the heart.

Usually, this happens when a blood clot forms in one of the coronary arteries (blood vessels to the heart muscle), which blocks the blood supply. Occasionally, a blockage is caused by a spasm (sudden narrowing) of a coronary artery.

Cause of Heart attack:

A heart attack happens when a blood vessel in or near the heart becomes blocked. Not enough blood can get to that part of the heart muscle. That area of the heart muscle stops working, so the heart is weaker. During a heart attack, you may have chest pain along with nausea, indigestion, extreme weakness, and sweating

A heart attack occurs when there is a severe blockage in an artery that carries oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. The blockage is usually caused by the buildup of plaque (deposits of fat-like substances, or atherosclerosis) along the walls of the arteries. The sudden lack of blood flow to the heart muscle deprives the heart of needed oxygen and nutrients. If the blockage is not opened quickly, the heart muscle is likely to suffer serious, permanent damage as areas of tissue die.

Warning Signs for Heart Attack

• Chest discomfort: uncomfortable pressure, squeezing or fullness.
• Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: one or both arms or in the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
• Shortness of breath, either with chest discomfort or alone.
• Other signs, including nausea, lightheadedness, or breaking out in a cold sweat.
Common Symptoms.
Other common symptoms of a heart attack include:
• Nausea, vomiting, and cold sweats
• A feeling of indigestion or heartburn
• Fainting
• A great fear of impending death, a phenomena known as angor animi
Medical Treatment
Medical treatment may be started immediately, before a definite diagnosis of a heart problem is made. General treatment measures include the following:
• Oxygen through a tube in the nose or face mask
• Nitroglycerin under the tongue
• Pain medicines (morphine or meperidine)
• Aspirin: Those with allergy to aspirin may be given clopidogrel (Plavix).

Surgery

After a heart attack, you will usually be offered an exercise test. If this suggests that your coronary arteries have narrowed, an angiogram will be carried out. This involves injecting a dye into the blood so that the coronary blood vessels show up on an X-ray. If your arteries are narrowed, you can sometimes be treated with angioplasty or coronary artery bypass grafting.