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What is heart attack?

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

Myocardial infarction is commonly called as Heart attack.

Heart attack is the sudden loss of blood supply to heart muscle due to complete occlusion (100% block) in the blood vessel (coronary artery) which supplies blood to the heart. This is due to clotting of blood (thrombosis) caused by disruption of fatty deposit on the inner wall of coronary artery.

What are the risk factors for developing heart attack?

The non-modifiable risk factors for developing heart attack are advancing age, male gender and hereditary factors. The modifiable risk factors for developing heart attack are unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, smoking, stress, raised blood pressure (hypertension), raised blood glucose (diabetes), altered blood lipid levels (dyslipidemia), and obesity.

What are the manifestations (symptoms) of heart attack?

The typical manifestation of a heart attack includes pain or discomfort in the centre of the chest. During a heart attack, symptoms last 30 minutes or longer and are not relieved by rest. There may be radiation of pain to the arms, left shoulder, elbows, jaw, or back. In addition the person may experience difficulty in breathing, rapid and forceful beating of heart, nausea, vomiting, giddiness and profuse sweating.

How is ‘Heart Attack’ diagnosed?

Besides the symptoms, the following tests help in the diagnosis of heart attack: ECG (electrocardiography), Echocardiography (scan of heart) and Troponin cardiac enzyme level can add on to the diagnosis. Coronary Angiography, the confirmatory test to diagnose blockage of coronary artery, refers to direct visualization of the blocked artery via is a minimally invasive cardiac catheterisation procedure.

What is the treatment given for heart attack?

The goal of treatment is to treat quickly and limit heart muscle damage. The medications given mainly break up blood clots and prevent further clotting of blood. Following coronary angiography, emergency angioplasty with stenting is performed to open up the blocked arteries. Bypass surgery may be emergently needed when angioplasty is not feasible.

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