Myocardial Infarction – Causes, Risk Factors, Signs And Symptoms
Myocardial infarction or heart attack is a medical emergency in which blood flow to the heart is suddenly blocked, causing heart muscleÂ death due to lack of oxygen. Oxygenated bloodÂ flow thatÂ isÂ supplyed to the heart by theÂ coronary arteriesÂ become blocked by atheromatous plaques, thatÂ rupture and form a thrombus (blood clot) around them.Â Without blood supply, as any living tissue theÂ heart muscle dies. If a large area of myocardium is affected,Â death is very probable. EmergencyÂ myocardial infarctionÂ treatmentÂ is manditoryÂ to restore blood flow to the infarction area.
Myocardial Infarction Protocol
If the person suspectedÂ of aÂ heart attack and was prescribed nitroglycerin, it is advisable to administer a nitroglycerin pill. After 5 minutes, if the pain does not respond or it getsÂ worse,Â call the emergency services. If a heart attack or unstable anginaÂ is presumedÂ andÂ nitroglycerin was not prescribed to that patient, the patient mustÂ present to the emergency room orÂ imediately call the ambulance. It is important to begin treatment as soon as possible.
Each year about 40% of myocardial infarctions are fatal, of which more than half of deaths occur in the emergency room or before reaching the hospital. After calling the ambulance, chew an aspirin. A recent study showed that those taking aspirin during a heart attack and after another month had a lower risk of dyingÂ due to complications likeÂ stroke than those not taking aspirin.
Myocardial InfarctionÂ Causes
The main cause of both unstable angina and myocardial infarction is coronary artery disease. Coronary heart disease occurs when atheromatous plaques appear along the internalÂ walls of coronary arteries and thus reduces blood flow to the heart. In majorityÂ of people coronary heart diseases begins in adolescence and develops over the years. Elevated cholesterol, hypertension and smoking damages your arteries and contributes to plaque formation. The process of forming plaques insideÂ blood vesselsÂ is called atherosclerosis.
Coronary atherosclerosis leads in time to angina and worse toÂ myocardial infarction. It is a slow process that can develop for years without any symptoms.
Meanwhile,Â like limestone deposits on the inside of pipe installations, fat is deposited on the walls of arteries that feed the heart and narrows them. The effect is to reduce blood flow to a portion of theÂ heart muscle.Â To this process blood clots can be addedÂ (thrombus) a process known as atherothrombosis. When there is total cessation of blood flow to an area (usually by a blood clot formation) results in a myocardial infarction. Atherosclerosis can occur in any vascular territory, producing symptomsÂ in thatÂ territory, eg the coronary arteries (heart): angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, carotid arteries (supplying the brain): stroke, femoral artery, popliteal (supplying the legs): intermittent claudication (pain in muscles).
MyocardialÂ InfarctionÂ Risk Factors
Anyone can reduce risk of heart attack!
Certain factors, called coronary risk factors, increase the risk of atherosclerosis. The process of atherosclerosis can be slowed by reducing these risk factors, thus reducing the risk of death or disability by myocardial infarction. Although not always perfectly predictable, there are some people who have a higher risk than the general population toÂ suffer from aÂ heart attack or angina attacks. These people are carriers of known coronary risk factors. Risk factors fall into two categories: modifiable (those on which we can not have any influence, such as male gender, age or genetic inheritance), and the changeble (important to know because they can be influenced by correcting some unhealthy habitsÂ orÂ through drugs). In some families there is a greater tendency of developing myocardial infarction. Its incidence increases with age also, and menÂ are more likely than women to sufferÂ from a heart attack atÂ younger age.
These risk factors – heredity, age and sex – can not be changedÂ but ifÂ the patientÂ changesÂ his lifestyle and reduces risk factorsÂ , chances of living a longer and healthier lifeÂ will improve. Prevention of acute myocardial infarction is the best thing and it is never too late to change habits that can harm your heart. This means to do regular health checks and reduce coronary risk factors. Sometime sthe presence of only oneÂ risk factorÂ from the set is enaughÂ to increase the risk of coronary heart disease. Thus, unfortunately, we see increasingly andÂ frequently young patients (between 30-40 years) hospitalized for acute myocardial infarction, where the only measurable coronary risk factor is smoking.
Stress also called the illness of the century, which like smoking is often seen in young people must also be kept under control before irreversibleÂ harmful effects on health manifest.
Regular checksÂ and blood tests, especially under the supervision of the family doctor are very important to know your level of blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) andÂ blood sugar.
Myocaridal InfarctionÂ Signs and Symptoms
Sometimes a heart attack starts suddenly and intensely. But often, the onset is slow, with mild pain and discomfort. Patients do not understand what is happening and wait too long before getting help. If you notice any of the myocardial infarction symptoms, do not miss a minute! Seek help immediately! When you suffer a heart attack every minute counts! Be sure to recognize clinical signs, as this canÂ save your life.
Symptoms and signs of acute myocardial infarction need to recognize are:
- Previous intense chest pain with pressure, burning, weight, grip sensation
- Pain may radiate toÂ the shoulder, arms, neck, back andÂ upper abdomen
- Pain duration isÂ more than 20 minutes (up to several hours), does not respond to sublingual nitroglycerin tablets (3 tablets taken every 5 minutes)
- Pain may be accompanied by other signs: dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, sweating, choking, anxiety, nervousness, palpitations (not all of these clinical signs occur in every acute myocardial infarction).
- PainÂ usually begins with a low intensity and increase in intensity over several minutes to a maximum. Discomfort may be intermittent. Chest pain that reaches maximum intensity within seconds can be a sign of another disease, aneurysm of aorta.
If you have one or more of these signs, do not wait any delay could be fatal! Call the ambulance!
What happens if a patient with acute myocardial infarction not present at the hospital? Risks of ignoring the warning symptoms for acute myocardial infarction are multiple:
- Sudden death
- Severe arrhythmias
- Development of new angina pain thatÂ further increases patient risk for sudden death
- Appearance of heart failure (fatigue, suffocation, and possibly edema in the legs being the most common symptoms)