A heart attack is the death of heart muscle due to the complete blockage of a diseased coronary artery due to a blood clot.

What causes it?

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is by far the commonest cause.

Coronary arteries become narrowed, usually as a result of fatty cholesterol deposits (plaque) in the arterial wall, which bulge inwards and partly obstruct the flow of blood. The tip of this bulging cholesterol plaque can become eroded. The body attempts to seal this tip off by depositing blood platelets, forming a clot. As this clot increases in size, the artery becomes critically narrowed, or even totally blocked.

When the blood flow to the heart muscle is obstructed in this way, chest pain (angina) occurs. If the blood flow is totally cut off, the heart muscle actually dies, and this is called a heart attack, or acute myocardial infarct (AMI).

The symptoms of a heart attack include the following:

– Chest pain that is crushing or squeezing, or a feeling of a heavy weight on the chest, a tight band around the chest or Nausea or vomiting
– a dull ache in the middle of the chest
– Shortness of breath
– Pain which radiates from the chest to the neck, jaw, or one or both arms
– Increased perspiration
– Fast or irregular pulse
– Dizziness or light-headedness
– Sudden urge to have a bowel action
– Sudden extreme fatigue
– Panic with feeling of impending doom

How to treat heart attack:

Treatment of heart attacks includes:

– Antiplatelet medications to prevent formation of blood clots in the arteries
– Clot-dissolving medications to open blocked arteries
– Anticoagulant medications to prevent growth of blood clots in the arteries
– Coronary angiography with either percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) with or without stenting to open blocked coronary arteries
– Medications to decrease the need for oxygen by the heart’s muscle
– Supplemental oxygen to increase the supply of oxygen to the heart’s muscle
– Medications to prevent abnormal heart rhythms
– Cardiac surgery