Myocardial infarction is the medical name for a heart attack. This is usually the result of a blockage in one or more of the coronary arteries. A blockage can develop due to a buildup of plaque, a substance mostly made of fat, cholesterol, and cellular waste products.
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, otherwise known as a myocardial infarction.
Symptoms of Myocardial Infarction
In some cases there are no symptoms at all, but most heart attacks produce some chest pain. The pain of a severe heart attack has been likened to a giant fist enclosing and squeezing the heart. If the attack is mild, it may be mistaken for heartburn. The pain may be constant or intermittent.
Other common symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Pressure or 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.
- Shortness of breath.
- Sweating, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, cough, dizziness, fast heart rate.
Causes and Risk Factors
Your heart is the main organ in your cardiovascular system, which also includes different types of blood vessels. Some of the most important vessels are the arteries. They take oxygen-rich blood to your body and all of your organs.
The coronary arteries take oxygen rich blood specifically to your heart muscle. When these arteries become blocked or narrowed due to a buildup of plaque, the blood flow to your heart can decrease significantly or stop completely. This can cause a heart attack.
Several factors or causes that may lead to a blockage in the coronary arteries includes:
- Bad cholesterol.
- Saturated fats.
- Trans fat (usually artificially produced and can be found in a variety of processed foods).
- High blood pressure.
- High cholesterol levels.
- High triglyceride levels.
- Diabetes and high blood sugar levels.
- Lack of exercise.
- The use of certain illegal drugs, including cocaine and amphetaminesa.
- History of pre-eclampsia, or high blood pressure during pregnancy.
How to Diagnose Myocardial Infarction
To determine whether you’ve had a heart attack, your doctor will listen to your heart to check for irregularities in your heartbeat. They may measure your blood pressure as well. Your doctor will also run a number of different tests if they suspect that you’ve had a heart attack.
An electrocardiogram (EKG) may be done to measure your heart’s electrical activity. Blood tests can also be used to check for proteins that are associated with heart damage, such as troponin.
Other diagnostic tests include:
- A stress test to see how your heart responds to certain situations, such as exercise.
- An angiogram with coronary catheterization to look for areas of blockage in your arteries.
- An echocardiogram to help identify areas of your heart that aren’t working properly.
Treatment of Myocardial Infarction
Treatment depends on severity and ranges from lifestyle changes and cardiac rehabilitation to medication, stents and bypass surgery.
Supportive care include
- Defribillation : Using an electrical shock to correct a rapid, irregular heartbeat and restore the heart’s normal rhythm.
- Oxygen Therapy : Providing extra oxygen to the lungs of people with breathing problems.
Medications used include
- Blood Thinners : Helps prevent blood clots from forming or helps dissolve existing clots.
- Heart Medication : helps reduce chest pain or pressure caused by blockages in the arteries of the heart.
- Narcotics : Relieves pain, dulls the senses and causes drowsiness. May become addictive.
- Beta Blockers : Slows heart rate and decreases blood pressure.
- Statins : Decreases the liver’s production of harmful cholesterol.
- ACE Inhibitors : Relaxes blood vessels, lowers blood pressure and prevents diabetes-related kidney damage.
Medical and surgical procedures used include
- Coronary Stent : A tube placed in the arteries of the heart to keep them open.
- Coronary Angioplasty : Unblocking an artery by inflating a balloon inside it. A stent may also be inserted to hold the artery open.
- Cardiac Rehabilitation : A supervised programme that includes exercise, lifestyle changes, education and emotional support for people with heart problems.
- Coronary Artery Bypass : Surgery that restores blood flow to the heart by using a healthy artery or vein to bypass a blocked artery.
- MayoClinic – https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-attack/doctors-departments/ddc-20373113
- Malcolm R. Bell, M.D. Interventional Cardiologist, Rochester, MN
- Patricia J. Best, M.D. Cardiologist Interventional Cardiologist, Rochester, MN
- Joerg Herrmann, M.D. Cardiologist, Rochester, MN
- HealthLine – https://www.healthline.com/health/acute-myocardial-infarction
- Cleveland Clinic – https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16818-heart-attack-myocardial-infarction
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