heart attack

Heart Attack

Almost all heart attacks occur when a blood clot suddenly and completely blocks a coronary artery.

This condition is called a coronary thrombosis, or simply a coronary. The part of the heart muscle nourished by the blocked artery becomes damaged by lack of oxygen.

Unless blood flow returns within minutes, muscle damage increases. Heart cells begin to die after four to six hours without blood. The damage can affect the heart's ability to pump and may cause the patient's death. If the clot can be dissolved within four to six hours, damage to the heart can be reduced. Symptoms. Some people have no warning signs at the beginning of a heart attack. But many people experience angina, dizziness, indigestion, or other symptoms. Most heart attacks cause severe pain. Patients describe the pain as a dull, crushing ache in the chest, but discomfort may extend into the neck, jaw, arms, or back.

The pain may last from a few minutes to several hours. Anyone with chest pain who suspects the pain may be due to a heart attack should seek medical help immediately.

Some patients may stop breathing, and their hearts may stop beating. A first-aid technique called cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can maintain breathing and circulation until a patient can be taken to a hospital. But CPR should be performed only by someone trained in the technique.

Diagnosis and treatment.

Injured heart muscle causes abnormal ECG waves. Soon after a patient reaches the hospital, doctors administer an ECG to determine that symptoms result from a heart attack and not some other disorder. Doctors also use certain blood tests to detect a heart attack. But these tests are not useful until a few hours after an attack. Doctors may administer a strong painkilling drug, such as morphine, to relieve the pain of a heart attack. They also use drugs to dissolve clots in the blocked artery or may perform emergency angioplasty or bypass surgery.

After doctors stabilize the condition of a heart attack patient, they admit the person to the hospital and monitor him or her for complications in the intensive care unit. Some hospitals have a specialized intensive care unit called a coronary care unit for heart patients. Two major complications are heart failure and arrhythmia. Heart failure occurs if the heart cannot pump enough blood because of extensive damage to the heart muscle. In most cases, heart failure can be successfully treated. In arrhythmia, the heart's electrical system produces an abnormal pattern of beats. Most arrhythmias can be readily treated, but a type called ventricular fibrillation can cause sudden death. Ventricular fibrillation occurs when electrical signals in the ventricles fire randomly.

More than 20 percent of heart attack patients who do not get medical care die. Some people die before they can reach a doctor, but other patients ignore their symptoms and delay treatment. The death rate among hospitalized patients ranges from 5 to 10 percent. Heart attack patients with ongoing chest pain, arrhythmias, or heart failure have a greater risk of another attack than do patients without these problems.

Source : World Book 2005




Heart Attacks: Silent but Deadly


The fact that there are 1.5 million heart attacks in the US every year sounds worrying enough, but even worse, one third of them are silent. This means that the sufferer will not feel any of the regular symptoms associated with heart attacks, and sometimes may feel no pain.

I spoke to two heart attack sufferers, all of whom were equally shocked when they found out that the pain they had been experiencing was in fact a heart attack.

Let me introduce you to Brett Schklar, a 34 year old Chief Marketing Officer from Denver.

3 years ago, at the age of 31, Brett started experiencing chest pain while he was traveling on business. He woke up in the middle of the night, with what he told me felt like “an elephant” on his chest. The symptoms continued through the night, but Brett thought that it was simply heartburn. He even gave a marketing presentation while gasping for air. When he got home, he went to the doctor, who immediately called an ambulance. When he got to the hospital, it was finally discovered that he had experienced a heart attack.

As you can imagine, this is the problem with discovering silent heart attacks. Their symptoms can be very easily associated with those of more common illnesses.

“When I went to the hospital I kept getting cardiograms of all sorts, but they just sent me home, telling me I had nothing wrong with me,” Yvette Bergeron, who had a silent heart attack in 1999, told me. “The reason I went to hospital was that I could not breathe. I could not lie flat on a bed; I had to sleep on a lounge chair sitting up.”

Yvette got fed up of being turned away from ER, so she went to her doctor. “He told me to come back the next day as well,” she told me. At 5am, Yvette decided that she could not wait until the next day. She got her husband to drive her to ER once again, but this time they kept her in. A heart doctor on call in the hospital read her cardiogram, and immediately sent her to the intensive care unit.

heart attack deadly

“I don’t remember too much after that, but I was told quite a bit. And boy, did I have some dreams!” said Yvette.

She was kept there overnight, but the next day was sent to another hospital where an emergency 5-way bypass was performed. Yvette woke up one week later, and just then begun to remember things.

This is why it is incredibly important to know the symptoms, and if you are ever in doubt, to call for an ambulance. The symptoms of silent heart attacks are chest pain, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, fainting, dizziness, sweating, anxiety, cough and indigestion.

Remember, around 500,000 heart attacks every year (in the US) have no obvious symptoms, and often go unnoticed, of which around 175,000 are fatal. Don’t let yourself be part of this statistic.

Source : http://netnewsdaily.com/


Heart attack symptoms

Symptoms of a possible heart attack include chest pain and pain that radiates down the shoulder and arm. Some people (the elderly, people with diabetes, and women) may have little or no chest pain. Or, they may experience unusual symptoms (shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness).

heart attack

Women are more likely than men to have symptoms of nausea, vomiting, back or jaw pain, and shortness of breath with chest pain.

Source : http://www.adam.com/


Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when the supply of blood and oxygen to an area of heart muscle is blocked, usually by a clot in a coronary artery. If treatment is not started quickly, the affected area of heart muscle begins to die. This injury to the heart muscle can lead to serious complications, and can even be fatal. Sudden death from heart attack is most often due to an arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat or rhythm) called ventricular fibrillation. If a person survives a heart attack, the injured area of the heart muscle is replaced by scar tissue. This weakens the pumping action of the heart and can lead to heart failure and other complications.

Effective treatments for heart attack are available that can decrease the chances of sudden death and long-term complications. To be most effective, these treatments must be given fast—within 1 hour of the start of heart attack symptoms. Acting fast can save your life and limit damage to your heart.

Heart With Muscle Damage and Blocked Artery

heart attack

Figure A is an overview of the heart and coronary artery showing damage (dead heart muscle) caused by a heart attack. Figure B shows a cross-section of the coronary artery with plaque buildup and a blood clot.

A heart attack is a life-threatening event. Everyone should know the warning signs of a heart attack and how to get emergency help. Many people suffer permanent damage to their hearts or die because they do not get help immediately.

Each year, more than a million persons in the United States have a heart attack, and about half (515,000) of them die. About one-half of those who die do so within 1 hour of the start of symptoms and before reaching the hospital.

Both men and women have heart attacks.

Emergency personnel can often stop arrhythmias with emergency cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), defibrillation (electrical shock), and prompt advanced cardiac life support procedures. If care is sought soon enough, blood flow in the blocked artery can be restored in time to prevent permanent damage to the heart. Most people, however, do not seek medical care for 2 hours or more after symptoms begin. Many people wait 12 hours or longer.


Symptoms and Diagnosis

The warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack can include:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Heart attack pain can sometimes feel like indigestion or heartburn.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Pain, discomfort, or numbness can occur in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath. Difficulty in breathing often comes along with chest discomfort, but it may occur before chest discomfort.
  • Other symptoms. Examples include breaking out in a cold sweat, having nausea and vomiting, or feeling light-headed or dizzy.

Signs and symptoms vary from person to person. In fact, if you have a second heart attack, your symptoms may not be the same as for the first heart attack. Some people have no symptoms. This is called a "silent" heart attack.

The symptoms of angina (chest pain) can be similar to the symptoms of a heart attack. If you have angina and notice a change or a worsening of your symptoms, talk with your doctor right away.

Diagnosis of a heart attack may include the following tests:

  • EKG (electrocardiogram). This test is used to measure the rate and regularity of your heartbeat. A 12-lead EKG is used in diagnosing a heart attack.
  • Blood tests. When cells in the heart die, they release enzymes into the blood. These enzymes are called markers or biomarkers. Measuring the amount of these markers in the blood can show how much damage was done to your heart. These tests are often repeated at intervals to check for changes. The specific blood tests are:
    • Troponin test. This test checks the troponin levels in the blood. This blood test is considered the most accurate to see if a heart attack has occurred and how much damage it did to the heart.
    • CK or CK-MB test. These tests check for the amount of the different forms of creatine kinase in the blood.
    • Myoglobin test. This test checks for the presence of myoglobin in the blood. Myoglobin is released when the heart or other muscle is injured.
  • Nuclear heart scan. This test uses radioactive tracers (technetium or thallium) to outline heart chambers and major blood vessels leading to and from the heart. A nuclear heart scan shows any damage to your heart muscle.
  • Cardiac catheterization. A thin, flexible tube (catheter) is passed through an artery in the groin (upper thigh) or arm to reach the coronary arteries. Your doctor can use the catheter to determine pressure and blood flow in the heart's chambers, collect blood samples from the heart, and examine the arteries of the heart by x ray.
  • Coronary angiography. This test is usually performed along with cardiac catheterization. A dye that can be seen by using x ray is injected through the catheter into the coronary arteries. Your doctor can see the flow of blood through the heart and see where there are blockages.



Most heart attacks are caused by a blood clot that blocks one of the coronary arteries (the blood vessels that bring blood and oxygen to the heart muscle). When blood cannot reach part of your heart, that area starves for oxygen. If the blockage continues long enough, cells in the affected area die.

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common underlying cause of a heart attack. CAD is the hardening and narrowing of the coronary arteries by the buildup of plaque in the inside walls (atherosclerosis). Over time, plaque buildup in the coronary arteries can:

  • Narrow the arteries so that less blood flows to the heart muscle
  • Block completely the arteries and the flow of blood
  • Cause blood clots to form and block the arteries

A less common cause of heart attacks is a severe spasm (tightening) of the coronary artery that cuts off blood flow to the heart. These spasms can occur in persons with or without CAD. Artery spasm can sometimes be caused by:

  • Taking certain drugs, such as cocaine
  • Emotional stress
  • Exposure to cold
  • Cigarette smoking

Source : http://www.web-books.com/



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