Acute Myocardial Infarction is a medical term used to refer to a heart attack which means “death of heart muscle”. Heart, like every other human body organ requires a particular supply of oxygen and nutrients to ensure smooth and proper functioning. This functioning of the heart is supported by four main coronary arteries of which two large arteries are responsible for providing oxygenated blood to the heart. If any of these arteries are blocked, the supply of oxygen to the heart is hampered resulting in “cardiac ischemia”. More so, if the artery is damaged, the heart is literally starved of oxygen for a long period resulting in death of tissue, which in turn causes a heart attack, medically called acute myocardial infarction. This heart blockage is a mass formation of fat, cholesterol, and cellular waste.
While a heart attack may last for several hours or sometimes just minutes but could be fatal; thus, it is very important to be aware of its symptoms, cause, and treatment to minimize the damage.
Symptoms of Acute Myocardial Infarction
Symptoms of a heart attack vary case to case and sometimes a person may not experience any symptoms. However, there are some classic symptoms that could indicate a possible heart attack.
- Acute chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Pressure or tightness in chest
- Severe pain in back, jaw, left arm, right arm, shoulders or all areas
- Excessive sweating
- Racing heartbeat
- Variable blood pressure
- Thready pulse
- Pale and cool skin
The intensity of the pain and the resultant attack will differ for each person. A mild heart attack is also sometimes mistaken as heartburn and often does not cause any harm. Such a case also referred to as angina, is a warning signal and does not cause any harm because the blood flow is restored soon after and the pain recedes quickly thereafter.
As stated, in multiple cases, a heart attack may occur without any previous warning signs. This phenomenon is referred to as “silent ischemia” where the heart tissue is damaged due to sporadic, pain-free, interruptions of blood flow to the heart. Chances of silent ischemia are very high amongst people suffering from diabetes. This condition can however be detected through an ECG.
Further, women in many cases do not experience these classic heart attack symptoms; instead they feel a tightness and fullness in chest or pain in the neck, arm or jaw.
If you experience any of these classic heart attack symptoms, be sure to immediately consult a doctor and seek medical help.
Causes of Acute Myocardial Infarction
Heart is one of the most vital organs of the human body whose functioning is supported by the coronary arteries that supply oxygen rich blood to the heart. When these arteries are blocked or narrowed due to buildup of plaque, the flow of blood to the heart is reduced or stopped leaving the tissues to dry and die leading to a heart attack. This blockage or buildup may be caused due to several factors such as:
- Bad cholesterol: This type of cholesterol sticks your arteries causing plaque buildup and blockage.
- Saturated fats: These fats found in meat and dairy products lead to increase of bad cholesterol and build up of plaque in the coronary arteries.
- Trans fat: A type of fat found in processed food that accumulates in the arteries and causes blockages.
- High blood pressure
- High triglyceride: Triglycerides are a type of fat that block the arteries and thus lead to build up of plaque leading to higher chances of a heart attack.
- Diabetes: High blood sugar leads to coronary damage causing blockages.
- Obesity: Excessive weight causes multiple other conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. all of which are triggers of a heart attack.
- Smoking: Tobacco increases the risk of heart attack.
- Age: The possibility of a heart attack increases with age.
- Family history: A family history of heart disease increases chances of heart attack.
- Stress: Chronic stress could lead to heart attack.
- Lack of exercise: No physical activity is a major cause of heart attack.
- Drugs: Dosage of harmful drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines can increase chances of heart attack.
Treatment of Acute Myocardial Infarction
Most heart attacks are sudden and hence require immediate medical attention. The kind of treatment required depends on the intensity of the attack. For cases where the attack was a minor one certain prescribed medicine will also work and clear the blockages such as:
- Blood thinners to rejuvenate the blood flow by clearing clots
- Thrombolytics to dissolve clots
- Antiplatelet drugs to prevent formation of new clots
- Pain killers to reduce pain immediately
In case of a major heart attack, the doctors might have to perform surgeries to repair the damage and restore health.
- Angioplasty can be performed to unblock the arteries by inserting a catheter (thin tube) through the artery that will open the blockage and restore flow of blood
- A stent can also be placed in the heart to prevent the artery from closing again
- Further, coronary artery bypass graft can be performed to reroute the blood flow to reach the blockage.
Complete care and proper precautions need to be taken to ensure there is no lapse and the blood to the heart is restored.
On the other hand, though common, a heart attack is highly dangerous and possesses a great threat to one’s precious life. Hence, it is best to take proper measure to avoid any possibilities of a heart attack. One can take a healthy-diet, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, quit smoking, reduce stress, and lead a happy healthy life.