Heart Attack

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Overview

Heart attack is a phenomenon in which the blood flow to the heart muscle suddenly becomes very less or stops completely. This causes ischemia of the heart muscle, and so no oxygen and glucose reach the cells of the heart muscle, and the cells start to die within some minutes. This heart condition can lead to death if not managed immediately, and properly.

Causes

A heart attack usually occurs secondarily to an underlying disease of the coronary arteries. The types of coronary artery diseases that cause this condition are:

  • Atherosclerotic coronary artery disease
  • Severe spasm of the coronary artery
  • Coronary artery dissection

Symptoms

Heart disease can occur at any time, to anyone, hence it is important for everyone to stay vigilant of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in the chest or arm that may spread to the neck, jaw, or back
  • Nausea
  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn or abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweat
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness

Diagnosis

The following tests are the most helpful in confirming the diagnosis of a heart attack:

  • Electrocardiography
  • Troponin T (heart attack marker in the blood)
  • Troponin I (heart attack marker in the blood)
  • Exercise stress test
  • Echocardiogram
  • Chest X-ray

Treatment

The treatment of a heart attack follows a certain protocol, which consists of the following medications:

  • Aspirin
  • Thrombolytics
  • Antiplatelet drugs
  • Pain relievers
  • Nitroglycerin
  • Beta blockers
  • ACE inhibitors

For cases where the blockage is very severe, after initial management, surgery is done to insert a stent into the blocked artery to keep it open.

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