What is Heart Attack - Causes, Symptoms, Treatments and Prevention | Fortis Healthcare
What is a heart attack?
A heart attack occurs when an artery carrying blood and oxygen to the heart becomes blocked. Over time, fatty, cholesterol-containing deposits create plaques in the heart's arteries. Blood clots can occur if a plaque ruptures. A clot in an artery can cause a heart attack. A shortage of blood supply causes tissue in the heart muscle to die during a heart attack.
What is the difference between heart attacks and cardiac arrests?
Heart attacks and cardiac arrests are two separate heart-related medical situations that are sometimes used interchangeably yet have major variances. Understanding these distinctions is critical in order to respond correctly in emergency situations.
Cardiac arrest is defined as a sudden and unexpected loss of cardiac function, which results in the halt of blood flow throughout the body. Unlike a heart attack, which is caused by an artery blockage, cardiac arrest is caused by an electrical disruption in the heart that disturbs its usual rhythm. This irregularity, known as arrhythmia, can cause the heart to cease beating properly.
Heart attacks and cardiac arrests are two separate medical conditions that require different treatments. Heart attacks are caused by blockages in the coronary arteries, whereas cardiac arrests are caused by irregular heart rhythms. Understanding these distinctions can assist individuals in recognising symptoms.
Causes of heart attacks?
- a high-fat diet
- high cholesterol
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- being overweight or obese
- Drug misuse
- Hypoxia (lack of oxygen in the body)
Symptoms of heart attack?
- Pain or discomfort in the chest. Most heart attacks are characterised by discomfort in the centre or left side of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and returns. The discomfort might manifest as pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
- Feeling weak, dizzy, or faint. You could also break out in cold sweat.
- Jaw, neck, or back pain or discomfort.
- Discomfort or pain in one or both arms or shoulders.
- Breathing difficulty. This is frequently associated with chest discomfort, but it can sometimes occur prior to chest discomfort.
Other signs of a heart attack include extreme or unexpected exhaustion as well as nausea or vomiting. These other symptoms are more common in women.
How can it be treated?
Aspirin is one of the medications used to treat a heart attack. Aspirin inhibits blood coagulation. It aids in the movement of blood through a clogged artery. If you dialled 911 or your local emergency number, you might have been advised to chew aspirin. Aspirin may be administered quickly by emergency medical personnel.
Clot dissolving agents (thrombolytics or fibrinolytics). These medications aid in the dissolution of blood clots that are impeding blood flow to the heart. The faster a thrombolytic medicine is administered following a heart attack, the less damage the heart sustains and the greater the likelihood of survival.
Other anti-clotting medicines. Heparin may be administered via IV or injection. Heparin makes the blood less sticky and less prone to clotting.
Nitroglycerin. This drug dilates the blood vessels. It aids in the improvement of blood flow to the heart. Nitroglycerin is used to treat angina (sudden chest discomfort). It is administered as a tablet beneath the tongue, a pill to swallow, or an injection.
Morphine. This medication is used to treat chest pain that does not respond to nitroglycerin.
Beta agonists. These drugs reduce blood pressure and slow the heartbeat. Beta blockers can reduce heart muscle damage and help avoid future heart attacks. Most people who are suffering a heart attack are given them.
Inhibitors of ACE. These medications reduce blood pressure and heart stress.
Statins. These medications aid in the reduction of harmful cholesterol levels. Too much bad (LDL, or low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol can clog arteries.
Preventing heart attacks revolves around adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle and managing risk factors. Here are some key preventive measures:
- Quit smoking: Smoking damages blood vessels and significantly increases the risk of heart disease. Seek support to quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity puts strain on the heart and increases the risk of heart attacks. Aim for a balanced diet, portion control, and regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight.
- Follow a heart-healthy diet: Emphasise fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats while limiting saturated and trans fats, salt, and added sugars.
- Stay physically active: Engage in regular aerobic exercise like brisk walking, swimming, or cycling for at least 150 minutes per week. Consult a healthcare professional before starting an exercise regimen.
- Manage stress: Chronic stress can contribute to heart disease. Practice stress-reducing techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or engaging in hobbies.
- Control blood pressure and cholesterol levels: Monitor blood pressure regularly, and if elevated, follow medical advice to manage it. Similarly, keep cholesterol levels in check through diet, exercise, and medications if necessary.
- Limit alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol intake can increase blood pressure and contribute to heart problems. Drink in moderation or avoid alcohol altogether.
Heart attacks are a serious medical condition that can be prevented through lifestyle modifications and managing risk factors. Recognizing the warning signs and seeking immediate medical help is crucial for minimising damage and increasing the chances of survival. By adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle, which includes quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, following a balanced diet, staying physically active, managing stress, and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of experiencing a heart attack. Prioritising heart health should be an integral part of everyone's overall well-being.