- The heart requires its own constant supply of oxygen and nutrients, like any muscle in the body.
- The heart has three coronary arteries, two of them large, branching arteries that deliver oxygenated blood to the heart muscle.
- If one of these arteries or branches becomes blocked suddenly, a portion of the heart is starved of oxygen, a condition called “cardiac ischemia.”
- If cardiac ischemia lasts too long, the starved heart tissue dies. This is a heart attack
Causes of myocardial infarction:
- Most of the heart attacks are the result of atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries,” a condition that clogs coronary arteries with fatty, calcified plaques over time.
- Inflammation may also be the cause of heart attack, coronary artery walls become inflated over time, further increasing the build up of fatty plaques.
- Bad cholesterol– Bad cholesterol, also called low-density lipoprotein (LDL), is one of the leading causes of a blockage in the arteries.
- Saturated fat-Saturated fats also contribute to the build up of plaque in the coronary arteries. This fats are mostly found meat and dairy products, including beef, butter, and cheese
- Trans fat- Another fat which can lead to the clogging of arteries are trans fat or hydrogenated fat which is artificially created.
Risk factors of myocardial infarction:
Though anyone can have myocardial infarction, but there may be some risk factors. This may include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol level
- High triglyceride level
- Age (Men are at higher risk after age 45 and women after 55)
- Diabetes/ High blood sugar level
- Family history
Symptoms of myocardial infarction:
In many cases there may be no symptoms, but 25% of the heart attacks show symptoms. Treating the symptoms at correct time can always rescue patients. Symptoms may include:
- Tightness in the chest
- Pain in the chest, back, jaw, and other areas of the upper body that lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back (this may be the most early sign of heart attack)
- Shortness of breath
- Fast heart rate
Diagnosis of myocardial infarction:
- Physical test of the heart beat is the primary test which is done to know if the heart is working properly.
- Stress test may also be done to see the beating of heart during any intense physical exercise.
- Measuring of blood pressure
- An electrocardiogram, to measure the heart’s electrical activity
- An angiogram, to look for the areas where the arteries are blocked
- An echocardiogram, to look for the areas of the heart that aren’t working properly.
Treatments of myocardial infarction:
Heart attack in most cases are emergency, in such cases surgical methods are used:
- Procedure called angioplasty may be used to unblock the arteries that supply blood to the heart.
- In some cases coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) is done. In this procedure, the surgeon will reroute the veins and arteries so the blood can flow around the blockage.
Certain medications can also be used to treat heart attack, which may include:
- Blood thinners, such as aspirin, are often used to break up blood clots and improve blood flow through narrowed arteries.
- Thrombolytics are often used to dissolve clots.
- Antiplatelet drugs, such as clopidogrel, can be used to prevent new clots from forming and existing clots from growing.
- Nitroglycerin can be used to widen the blood vessels.
- Beta-blockers lower the blood pressure and relax the heart muscle. This can help limit the severity of damage to the heart.
- ACE inhibitors can also be used to lower blood pressure and decrease stress on the heart.
- Pain relievers may be used to reduce any discomfort
Complications of myocardial infarction:
Depending on the severity of the heart attack, certain other complications can also occur, such as:
- Heart failure
- Arrhythmias or abnormal heart rhythms
- Cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death, where the heart stops beating.
- Cardiogenic shock, where the heart is so damaged from the heart attack that a person goes into shock, which may result in damage of other vital organs like the kidneys or liver
Myocardial infarction can be treated, and certain fatality can be minimized if the symptoms are treated as early as possible.