Heart attack is one of the leading causes of death in many parts of the world. In Singapore, heart attack is the number 2 killer after cancer.A heart attack is the condition where the heart muscle gets permanently damaged. It is also known as myocardial infarction (MI). The myocardial word is made of two different words, where ‘Myo’ refers to muscle and ‘cardial’ means the heart. And, ‘infarction’ refers to the death of tissue caused by the lack of blood supply to the heart.
How is a heart attack caused?
The heart muscle in the body requires oxygen rich blood supply constantly in order to nourish the heart. This critical blood is supplied to the heart through the coronary arteries. When someone has a coronary heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease, these arteries become thin due to which the blood cannot flow through them as it normally does. Also, fatty matter, proteins, inflammatory cells, and calcium build up in the arteries, thus forming different sizes of plaques. These plaque deposits are spongy and soft from the inside and hard from the outside.
When this plaque is hard, it results in the cracking of the outer shell, which is known as plaque rupture and brings the platelets to the area, thus forming blood clots around the plaque. Platelets are the particles found in the blood,which are in the shape of a disc, that help in blood clotting. And, if this blood clot blocks the artery completely, then the heart muscle becomes famished for oxygen. And, within a short period of time, the cells of the heart muscle die, in turn leading to permanent damage of the heart. This is called a heart attack.
A heart attack can also result from a severe tightening or spasm of a coronary artery. However, it is very rare. During this condition of coronary spasm, the coronary arteries spasm on and off or restrict, in turn reducing the supply of blood to the heart muscle. These spasms usually occur in the coronary arteries, which are not affected by atherosclerosis.This condition is known as ischemia. This illness can happen to people who do not have significant coronary artery condition or at rest.Moreover, heart attacks can lead to or are associated with severe health issues, like heart failure, life threatening disease arrhythmias, etc.
Symptoms of a heart attack
There are a lot of indications that can tell you when you are suffering from a heart attack. Among them, the most common warning symptoms are:
- Discomfort, pain, pressure, or heaviness in the arm, below the breast bone, or chest
- Discomfort scattering to the jaw, back, arm, or throat
- A feeling of indigestion, choking, or fullness, feeling like heartburn
- Upper body discomfort
- Extreme shortness of breath, anxiety, or weakness
- Irregular or rapid heartbeats
- Breaking out in cold sweat
- Vomiting, sweating,ornausea (feeling of sickness in the stomach)
- Feeling unusually tired without any reason, sometimes for many days (especially for women)
- Sudden dizziness or light-headedness
- Any sudden change in the symptom pattern you already have or anew symptom occurs, such as your symptoms last longer than usual or become stronger
If you act fast when you see the first signs of any of these symptoms of a heart attack, you can save your life as well as limit the damage done to your heart. If you get treated right after you notice the heart attack symptoms, then you can get the best treatment for your heart.