Also known as acute myocardial infarction, heart attack is the leading cause of death worldwide. An average of 1.2 million Americans suffer from a heart attack annually and 40% of these people die. This condition is characterized by an interruption of the blood flow to a particular region in the heart. The interruption results to oxygen shortage which causes heart tissue damage and tissue death.
People with a history of stroke, atherosclerotic heart disease or angina and abnormal heart rhythm have a higher risk of experiencing a heart attack. The disease mostly affects men over 40 years old and women over 50 years old. There are also medical and scientific studies stating that women who use contraceptive pills have a higher risk of a heart attack than those who does not use them. A person’s lifestyle can also increase chances of a heart attack. Smoking, drinking, drug abuse, presence of high triglyceride levels in the food you eat, high LDL levels and low HDL levels are some of the risk factors you should learn to avoid. On the other hand, individuals diagnosed with diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and high stress levels are also considered to be at serious risk.
A person having a heart attack will experience chest pains, nausea, shortness of breath, vomiting, sweating, palpitations and anxiety. These symptoms are usually experienced by males while in females, symptoms include fatigue and weakness. There is evidence that at least 30% of all myocardial infarction incidents have no visible symptoms and are considered to be “silent” infarctions.
A person suffering from a heart attack requires immediate medical attention to prevent sustained heart damage Aside from receiving oxygen, glyceryl trinitrate and aspirin; persons having heart attacks will undergo a series of diagnostic test including an electrocardiogram, blood test and chest X-ray. These tests will determine levels of troponin or creatine kinase which are usually indicative of heart tissue damage. Treatment can involve thrombolytic therapy or percutaneous coronary intervention. For severe cases, a bypass surgery will be performed to unblock the affected coronary artery.
Heart attacks are usually triggered by intense exertion, both psychological and physical. Acute severe infections like pneumonia can also trigger heart attacks. A person at risk of having a heart attack usually has a clinical history of chest pains that lasts for more than 20 minutes. The person will also have changing ECG readings as well as fluctuating levels of serum cardiac biomarkers.
People who survived a heart attack can reduce risk of recurrence by monitoring blood pressure and implementing lifestyle changes. They would not be allowed to smoke, drink excessively and will be encouraged to exercise regularly, eat a well-balanced diet and take long-term medication. These medications include antiplatelet drug therapy (aspirin), beta blocker therapy (metoprolol), ACE inhibitor therapy, statin therapy, aldosterone antagonist agent eplerenone and omega-3 fatty acids.
Complications from a heat attack are very likely to occur immediately. These complications can include congestive heart failure, myocardial rupture, pericarditis, life-threatening arrhythmia and cardiogenic shock. This is the reason heart attacks can be so fatal, as the effects occur rather rapidly.