Heart Attack Definition
A heart attack is an emergency that prevents blood supply to the heart, often as a result of a blood clot. Certain terms used for a heart attack include thrombosis of the coronary, myocardial infarction (MI), and cardiac infarction. An infarction happens when blood supply to an area of the heart is cut off – resulting in the death of that tissue.
How to spot and treat a heart attack?
A heart attack, also medically known as myocardial infarction or MI, is characterized by the death of a heart muscle section caused by a failure of blood supply. The blood is usually cut off when a blood clot blocks an artery that supplies the heart muscle. If some of the heart muscles (also called myocardium) dies, a person may feel chest pain and electrical dysfunction of the heart muscle tissue. Sometimes, the blockage is so severe that it can cause death.
There could be many health complications if your heart attack go unnoticed or left untreated. On the basis of location, a heart attack can be further categorized into different types such as inferior wall MI, superior wall MI, and posterior wall MI. Inferior wall MI is by far the most dangerous as it usually involves more than one blood vessels.
Furthermore, the size and location of the artery blocked also defines the severity of the heart attack. The bigger the artery involved, the more are the chances of the death of heart muscles.
Fast facts on heart attacks:
- The heart muscle lacks blood supply during a heart attack. The symptoms appear as the heart muscles will become deficient in oxygen and nutrients.
- Chest pain and discomfort are common symptoms of a heart attack. In more than 80% of the cases, chest pain that usually radiates to the jaw and neck is the first sign to appear.
- When a man is above 45, and a woman is above 55, the probability of a heart attack rises. Although age is a significant factor, other risk factors are equally important such as obesity, smoking, raised cholesterol levels, sedentary lifestyle, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the blood vessels).
Heart Attack Symptoms
A heart attack has strong signs requiring immediate medical attention. A sensation of pressure, tightness, discomfort, squeezing, or pain in the chest that extends to the left arm, throat, jaw, or back can be a sign that you have a heart attack.
Other possible symptoms of a heart attack are as follows:
- Pain – A sudden, sharp and stabbing pain in the chest is usually the first sign you will experience during a heart attack. It typically starts in the middle of the chest and then radiates towards the neck and jaw. In more than 50% of the cases, it may also radiates in the left arm.
- Nausea – It is feeling in which a person feels that he or she is about to vomit. This usually proceeds after chest pain and may lead to vomiting later.
- Vomiting – A patient may feel like vomiting (nausea) for a couple of minutes, followed by one or more episodes of vomiting.
- Coughing – When heart muscles are under stress, they pump less blood than they were pumping before. It leads to less supply of blood to the body organs – including upper respiratory tract. The body responds by coughing when lungs receive less oxygen.
- Dizziness – Less supply of blood and oxygen causes the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles. It leads to the development of acidic environment in the body that further cause dizziness. Some studies suggest that less blood supply to the brain can also contribute to this symptom.
- Shortness of breath – Both, reduced blood supply to the lungs and buildup of lactic acid in the muscles, can cause shortness of breath. The lungs tries to compensates the reduce oxygen by contracting fast – that leads to shortness of breath and heavy breathing.
- A terror feeling that life is ending – There are so many events going on the body like a chest pain, nausea, dizziness and shortness of breath during a heart attack. Plus, most people already know the common symptoms of a heart attack so they can usually pick what’s going on. This anxiety and fear can lead to terror feelings that life is going to end.
- Feeling clammy and sweaty – During a heart attack, a patient may experience cold sweating. It also happen secondary to reduced blood supply to the skin.
Changing place or altering position does not relieve a heart attack’s pain and discomfort. The pain that a person feels is typically constant, though it may come and go at times.
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