A heart attack or "myocardial infarction" results from a blockage of
blood flow through one of the hearts arteries. Without blood supply,
the heart muscle dies. Although a myocardial infarction is a sudden
event, it is due to arteriosclerosis that develops very slowly over
Arteriosclerosis is the formation of fatty plaque along the inside
of the artery wall. This plaque can build up and completely block the
artery, thus causing a heart attack. Once the plaque forms on the
inside of the artery wall, there is a tendency for blood clots to form.
These too can cause blockage of blood flow, resulting in a heart
attack. A further cause of heart attacks are arterial spasms, a quick
and abrupt stoppage of blood flow.
Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
Symptoms of a heart
attack vary from person to person. Heart attack pain may range from an
intense crushing pain to mild chest tightness. Although it is not very
common, some people experience indigestion or no chest pain at all.
According to the American Heart Association, the warning signs of a heart attack include:
- Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, or a squeezing pain in the center of your chest for more than two minutes.
- Pain radiating to your shoulders, neck, arms, jaw or upper back.
- Severe pain, dizziness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.
It is very common to ignore these symptoms or blame them on
indigestion. However, if you experience these, call 911 or have someone
drive you to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately.
Heart Attack Risk Factors
Several risk factors
predispose you toward having a heart attack. Some you can control and
others you cannot. Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor which you
can change. Nicotine raises blood pressure and causes arteries to
You cannot change diabetes and high blood pressure.You can control
your blood pressure and practice good diabetic control by taking
medication, reducing your weight and lowering your salt intake. You can
also modify high cholesterol levels with medication and / or diet.
One factor which cannot be changed is family background. You cannot
choose your parents. However, you can exercise and maintain your ideal
body weight to help minimize your risks.
How Do You Know If You've Had A Myocardial Infarction?
you're admitted to the hospital. Blood work will be obtained to help
determine whether you've had a heart attack. An EKG will also be done
to obtain data to support the diagnosis.
If you have a heart attack, a
portion of your heart muscle has been injured. The recovery process
takes about four to six weeks. Your doctor will advise you about the
level of activity that is appropriate for your situation during this
process and after your recovery.
Cardiovascular diagnostic and interventional procedures may cause
unexpected problems, but serious and life-threatening problems are
unusual. Your Florida Heart Group physician will discuss the potential risks and benefits in detail so you can both decide which treatment is best for you.