Heart attack

Heart attack

The cause of a heart attack is the blockage of a coronary artery. It is one the most common causes of death.

Biology

Keywords

infarction, heart attack, disease, healing, emergency treatment, necrosis, blood clot, heart catheterisation, vasoconstriction, cardiac muscle, symptom, treatment, coronary artery, blood vessels, lifestyle, cure, chest pain, stent, human, biology

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Scenes

  • - In one day, it beats about 100,000 times and the two ventricles pump more than 7,000 liters (1,850 gal) of blood each. This enormous and constant work requires a good blood supply: the blood carries the necessary nutrients and oxygen. The artery that supplies the heart muscle with blood is called the coronary artery.

  • - In one day, it beats about 100,000 times and the two ventricles pump more than 7,000 liters (1,850 gal) of blood each. This enormous and constant work requires a good blood supply: the blood carries the necessary nutrients and oxygen. The artery that supplies the heart muscle with blood is called the coronary artery.

Narration

In one day our heart beats about 100,000 times, and the two ventricles pump more than 7,000 liters (1,850 gal) of blood each. This enormous and constant work requires a good blood supply: the blood carries the necessary nutrients and oxygen. The artery that supplies the heart muscle with blood is called the coronary artery.

The constriction of a coronary artery impairs the blood supply to the heart muscle. Fatty deposits build up on the walls of arteries, causing limestone to accumulate there. This makes the wall of the artery more susceptible to injuries and the artery narrows. The capacity of the heart muscle region, which is supplied with blood by the artery, decreases. Temporary oxygen and nutrient deficiency may occur in the cardiac muscle. The associated chest pain is called angina pectoris.
Too much fat in the diet and a lack of exercise increase the risk of heart attacks. Smoking, however, is one of the main risk factors. The risk of developing a blood clot in the narrowed artery section is extremely high. Small cracks can appear in the calcified artery wall, activating coagulation processes. The formation of a blood clot results in the blockage of the artery, which causes a heart attack, so the blood supply to that heart muscle region is interrupted.
If the blockage lasts for more than 6 hours, the heart muscle tissue of the affected area dies completely. However, shorter-lasting blockages can also cause permanent damage to the tissue.
The dead muscle is replaced with scar tissue, which is not able to contract. Extensive damage to the heart muscle can easily cause the death of the patient. Most patients develop an abnormal heart rhythm, which may lead to sudden death.

A common symptom of heart attack is a strong pressure and pain behind the breast bone. The pain often radiates to the back, the left shoulder and the left arm and sometimes to the right arm. The chest pain is similar to angina, but unlike the latter it does not cease or improve after having taken nitroglycerin or having had a rest. Although chest pain is usually present in most patients, women and elderly people can experience a heart attack without chest pain. Rarely, abdominal pain can occur, which is usually mistakenly considered a digestive problem, especially because it is relieved by burping. Other common symptoms are fear of death and sweating.
The presence of unusual symptoms and the lack of common symptoms in patients, make a heart attack difficult to identify. For this reason, an ECG examination plays an important role in the diagnosis of a heart attack. The earliest possible intervention can be lifesaving. It is thus important to call an ambulance as soon as a heart attack is suspected and not to waste time on waiting or contacting one’s general practitioner or acquaintances.

The first step in the treatment of heart attack is transporting the patient to hospital. Meanwhile, clot-busting aspirin, and oxygen are administered. The latter is done to increase the oxygen content in the blood, and, thus, to improve the oxygen supply to the heart muscle.

Often, intravenously administered drugs are used to dissolve blood clots. If a blood clot is not dissolved within the first six hours after the onset of symptoms, the heart muscle damage will be permanent, in which case medical intervention will not help.

In certain cases, coronary arteries are cleansed with coronary angioplasty. This procedure is performed using a catheter. Usually, the catheter is advanced through the femoral artery, to the blocked coronary artery. There, a balloon is inflated to widen the narrowed artery and a wire mesh tube, called a stent, expands around the balloon, pressing against the artery wall. The balloon is then deflated and removed and the stent is left in place to keep the artery open.

Heart attack is a leading cause of death, as one in five deaths is associated with it. Therefore, prevention is particularly important. Eating a healthy diet low in harmful LDL cholesterol, as well as taking regular exercise and avoiding smoking can help prevent a heart attack.

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