Myocardial infarction or also popularly known as “heart attack” is a condition where the heart stops working because it is starved of oxygen and nutrients (for a prolonged period of time) which are essential for its survival. The heart needs its consistent supply of oxygen and nutrients to ensure there is proper pumping of blood through the body. Our heart is made up of four major arteries that support its pumping function; two of these arteries are large while the other two are small. The large arteries are responsible for delivering oxygenated blood to the heart. However, when any of these arteries are blocked, narrowed or has a leakage, the function is disrupted, and part of the heart is starved of oxygen, which leads to cardiac ischemia. This blockage is because of a buildup of plaque in the arteries due to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cellular waste, etc. When the cardiac ischemia is prolonged, the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen for too long resulting in the death of the muscle, also referred to as a heart attack or a myocardial infarction.
While a myocardial infarction may or may not depict early signs of occurrence, it sometimes might reflect as acute chest pain, shortness of breath, loss of consciousness, nausea, anxiety, excessive sweating, pounding heart rate, etc. These symptoms are very generic and may depend on the condition of the person. In all cases, whether or not there are symptoms of myocardial infarction, it is very important to know the guidelines for myocardial infarction treatment.
The most important thing to know about a myocardial infarction treatment is that it is sudden and needs emergency medical help and immediate care. The most widely used myocardial infarction treatment is an angioplasty, a minimally invasive procedure where the doctor inserts a thin, fine tube called a catheter mounted with a tiny balloon into the blocked artery through an incision in the arm or groin. Once the catheter is in the right spot, the tiny balloon is inflated to remove the blockage from the artery and clear the passage to allow blood flow by pushing the plaque build-up to the walls of the artery. The procedure restores the optimum blood flow and oxygen to the heart by removing the blockage from the artery, widening the artery for smooth flow, and ensuring optimal heart health and safety. Once the blood supply is regulated, the balloon is deflated and removed from the body. This procedure is often time followed by the placement of a stent – a stainless steel mesh – in the heart of the patient to ensure the arteries do not clog again in the future.
However, in many cases, where the condition of the person is not suitable to be considered for angioplasty or the patient needs more intense care, the doctors can also resort to a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) for a myocardial infarction treatment. A CABG treatment restores the blood flow and oxygen to the heart by using blood vessels from another part of the body – such as the chest, or leg veins – and connecting them with blood vessels that are below or above the blocked or narrowed artery; hence, leading to a bypass for the compromised artery. The number of arteries used to connect is dependent on the severity of the condition. A coronary bypass graft can be done either right after myocardial infarction or could be undertaken once the condition of the patient is stabilised.
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
- Nitroglycerin to widen the blood vessels
- Antiplatelet drugs to prevent the formation of new clots
- Pain killers to reduce pain immediately
Once through the suggested myocardial infarction treatment, the patient needs to know what to expect post-treatment. Myocardial infarction is sudden and often, there might be a delay in receiving the medical treatment. The effectiveness of a myocardial infarction treatment depends on the timing of the medical care and intensity of the attack, both of which define the severity of damage done to the heart muscle. More the damage, the lower be the recovery of the heart post myocardial infarction treatment.
In cases where the heart damage is intense, but still the heart has survived, there are increased chances of developing heart problems such as arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) and could even lead to another attack. While in many cases a myocardial infarction could be minor, some patients however, suffer from depression and anxiety post-myocardial infarction treatment. Hence, it is very critical to consult the doctor with concerns to ensure a full recovery.
More importantly, the myocardial infarction treatment has to be followed by medications, post-operative tests, and lifestyle amendments such as healthy eating, proper weight, balanced nutrition, no smoking or drugs, regular health check-ups, and regular physical exercise but no strenuous workouts – to ensure there is no revival or worsening of the situation.
That said, a myocardial infarction is highly common but dangerous and poses a serious threat to precious lives. Hence, it is important to understand the criticality of the myocardial infarction treatment to ensure that the heart is healthy and functioning properly.