A heart attack leads to permanent heart damage or death. It is also known as Myocardial Infraction, because part of the heart muscle (myocardium) might die (infraction). A heart attack occurs when one of the coronary arteries becomes severely or completely blocked, usually due to a blood clot. The severity of a heart attack generally depends on how much of the heart muscle is injured during the heart attack.
A coronary attack (heart attack) occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked (often by a blood clot). This happens because coronary arteries that supply the heart with blood slowly become thicker and harder from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances, called plaque.
If the plaque breaks open and a blood clot is formed that blocks the blood flow, a heart attack occurs. The heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die. Damage increases the longer an artery stays blocked.
Once heart muscle dies, the result is permanent heart damage.
The main symptom of a heart attack is chest pain that is unrelieved by rest and often spreads or radiates through the upper body to the arms, neck, shoulders or the jaw. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, palpitations, dizziness, sweating or nausea. In contrast with men, women are more likely to feel fatigue or nausea prior to a heart attack. In diabetic patients, the symptoms may be very mild or silent.
Risk factors for heart disease include: Hypertension (high blood pressure), Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), a family history of Heart Disease (particularly Premature Coronary Artery Disease), Cigarette Smoking, Sedentary Lifestyle and Diabetes.
SMOKING- Increases the risk of heart attack three to four times over non-smokers. Smoking can cause artery muscles to contract, reducing blood flow to the heart.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE- Causes blood to press too hard against the walls of the arteries, damaging the arteries and promoting the development of hardening of coronary arteries.
HIGH CHOLESTEROL- A fat substance found in foods of animal origin. High levels of cholesterol contribute to the formation of fatty buildup along the inside lining of the arteries, blocking the flow of blood.
HIGH TRIGLYCERIDES- A fat found in the blood and are the end products of sugar breakdown that contributes to plaque formation. Limited intake of sugars, starches and alcohol is recommended.
DIABETES- Diabetics are more than twice as likely to develop heart disease. Diabetes damages the artery walls and increases the risk of plaque formation. Diabetics need to keep their blood sugar levels normal and control their cholesterol and triglycerides.
EXCESSIVE ALCOHOL AND CAFFEINE INTAKE- Can raise the cholesterol by raising the fat level in the blood. Alcohol consumption must be limited. Limit beverage with caffeine to two cups per day. OBESITY - Being overweight puts a direct strain on the heart. In case of overweight people, the heart has to work harder to supply the extra tissue with blood. Losing weight decreases the cholesterol and lowers the blood pressure.
LACK OF PROPER EXERCISE- A balance of rest, relaxation and activity are needed for a healthy body. A balanced exercise programme is recommended.
Angina pain is not the same as a Heart Attack. However, people with Angina have difficulty in telling the difference between Angina symptoms and symptoms of a Heart Attack. Angina is a recurring pain or discomfort in the chest that happens when some part of the heart does not receive enough blood, temporarily. A person may notice it during exertion such as while climbing stairs. It is usually relieved within a few minutes by resting or by taking medicines prescribed for Angina. People who have been diagnosed with Angina, though, have a greater risk of attack than other people. Prolonged Angina pain can lead to a heart attack.
Heart failure is the inability of the heart to pump out sufficient blood to meet the needs of the body. The pumping function of the heart is divided into two phases. First, the ability of the heart to relax properly so that blood can return into the relaxed heart called Diastole and secondly, the ability to be actively pumped out to the body called Systole. When the heart begins to malfunction, both of these functions become abnormal, usually.
Acting quickly can save many, many lives! Some heart attacks are sudden and intense. But most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort.
Here are some of the signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:
Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the centre of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back
Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, your back, neck, jaw or stomach
Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness
If you or someone you are with, has chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the above signs, don't wait more than five minutes before calling for help. Call the emergency medical services (EMS) in your area or get to a hospital immediately.
Medication to lower cholesterol can prevent heart attacks and save the lives of people who are at high risk for a heart attack. That's why people who have already had one heart attack need to be treated to lower their cholesterol in order to prevent another one.
Heart-healthy diet refers to a diet that is low in sodium, cholesterol and fat. Foods that best meet this requirement are whole grains, fruits and vegetables. A diet high in sodium, fat and cholesterol is associated with higher blood pressure, increased weight and elevated blood cholesterol levels, all of which increase the chances that Atherosclerosis will occur. Atherosclerosis is a build-up of fatty deposits in the artery walls.
Those who have survived a Heart Attack, must strive to:
Recover and resume normal activities
Prevent another Heart Attack
Prevent further complications like heart failure
After a Heart Attack, one must see the doctor regularly for check-ups to see how the heart is doing.
Exercise is good for the heart muscle and overall health. It can help one lose weight, keep the cholesterol and blood pressure under control, lose weight and uplift one's mood.
After a Heart Attack, most people are able to return to their normal activities. The time frame depends on many factors like age, muscle strength, procedure performed. On average, four weeks after a heart attack, normal activity can be restarted.
Many hospitals and medical centers are not as thoroughly trained and equipped and may lack diagnostic and therapeutic services that currently are available for heart attack victims. At Max Hospital, Gurgaon, we not only have the modern diagnostic and imaging equipments and new therapeutic options to help all types of Heart Attack victims, but we also have the faculty, organisation, and experience to be one of the top centers of its kind in the country.