Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs as a result of damage to a certain part of heart muscle due to inadequate blood flow to that region. One of every 5 sudden deaths is caused by heart attack. Heart attack is one of the main causes of sudden death in adults.

Most heart attacks result from clots in the arteries carrying blood and oxygen to the heart muscle. A clot in the coronary artery prevents blood and oxygen flow to the heart muscle, and this in turn causes death of heart cells in that area. A damaged heart muscle loses its ability to contract and the remainder of the heart becomes obliged to perform the job of this damaged part.

Causes of heart attack include hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, smoking, and family history of early coronary heart disease. Most of these risk factors are associated with being overweight. Formation of a clot on a narrow vein can be caused by anything. Sometimes it can be caused by a sudden and overwhelming stress.

The main complaint of patients having a heart attack is chest pain. Other complaints occurring on their own or accompanying a chest pain are as follows:

  • The chest pain behind the sternum is the most important symptom of heart attack but it can be too vague especially in patients with diabetes and the elderly or no pain can be felt (silent heart attack). The pain frequently spreads from the chest to shoulders or arms, neck, teeth, jaw, abdomen or back; sometimes the pain is felt only in one of these areas. It lasts for hours and is not relieved by resting in general. The pain can be of squeezing, heaviness, pressurizing type. It can evoke a feeling of constriction in the chest. It can be felt as indigestion. It is frequently accompanied by cold sweating and fear of death.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Boredom.

A heart attack is an emergency. It requires hospitalization and intensive care because fatal rhythm disturbance is the leading cause of death during the first few hours of a heart attack.

The goals of treatment are to stop the progression of heart attack, keep heart damage at a minimum level, reduce the demands of the heart, and prevent complications so that it can heal.

If the patient has arrived in the first 12 hours, death of heart muscle can be prevented by opening of the clogged artery. There are 2 methods to do this:

  • Dissolve the clot responsible for the blockage in the artery (thrombolytic therapy )
  • Open clogged area using a baloon + stent.

To prevent recurrence of heart attack and protect against a heart attack, what you should do are:

  • Keep your blood pressure under control.
  • Keep your cholesterol level under control.
  • Quit smoking if you smoke.
  • If you have diabetes, you definitely have to keep it under control.
  • Adopt a fruit and vegetable -rich diet containing less animal fat.
  • If you are overweight, lose weight.
  • Work your body by walking or doing other exercises every day or at least 5 days a week.
  • Stay away from stress and get professional help if necessary (yoga, meditation, psychiatrist, etc.).