Symptoms, Diagnosis & Heart Attack Treatment
Heart attacks are one of the most common causes of death in India. A heart attack (also known as myocardial infarction) is permanent damage or death of heart muscle due to the lack of supply of oxygen-rich blood. There are various reasons for the causes of heart attacks, though one of the most common is the result of coronary heart disease, where the coronary artery is narrowed or blocked due to formation of plaque or blood clots. Another less common reason for a heart attack is the spasm of a coronary artery, which may even occur in people who do not have coronary artery disease.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack
- Mild or severe pressure, pain, discomfort or heaviness in the chest. The pain may even be in the arm or below the breast bone. The pain may recur every few minutes.
- Sweating, vomiting, nausea or dizziness
- Upper body discomfort. Discomfort flowing through to the jaw, back, throat, arm or upper part of the stomach
- Irregular or rapid heartbeats
- Indigestion, fullness or a choking feeling
- Fatigue or extreme weakness, sometimes for days
- Shortness of breath or anxiety
Most of these symptoms of heart attacks last for thirty minutes or longer and are not relieved by nitro-glycerine under the tongue or by resting.
Some people may not have any of the above symptoms, and may still experience a heart attack – known as the silent heart attack. This is more common in people with diabetes.
Causes of Heart Attack
Risk factors for heart attacks
- Coronary Heart Disease
- Coronary Artery Spasm
- Emotional stress or pain
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Age – men above 45years of age, and women over 55 are more prone to heart attacks
Diagnosis of Heart Attacks
A person who has the symptoms of a heart attack should be taken to the hospital immediately. Heart attacks can be diagnosed by the following methods:
- ECG (Electrocardiograph): A device that monitors and records the electrical activity of the heart muscle. It can accurately detect irregular activities in the heart and help point out the area of the heart attack.
- Chest X-Ray: Can be used to check if the heart has any swelling.
- Cardiac Enzyme (Troponon I)Test: During a heart attack, enzymes make their way into the blood stream. A blood test can detect the enzymes.
- Cardiac Catheterization (angiography): A thin, hollow tube (catheter) is inserted a blood vessel in the groin or wrist and threaded up to the heart. Using a dye, the heart’s arteries are highlighted and blockages are identified.
- Echocardiogram: Sound waves are bounced off the heart to identify the weak or dead muscle.
Treatment of Heart Attacks
If a person is suffering from a heart attack, immediate treatment should be given. CPR or manual chest compression should be started if there is a cardiac arrest. An alternate method would be to use the AED (automated external defibrillator). The AED (automated external defibrillator) is a device that shocks the heart beat back to normal rhythm.
Treatment in the hospital includes:
- Clog-busting drugs
- Balloon angioplasty
- Stent placement
- Bypass surgery
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