Heart Attack and its Causes

Heart attack and its causes

A heart attack is a very serious consequence of coronary heart disease (CHD). This can cause part of the heart muscle to die. To prevent damage to the heart muscle, it is important to know how a heart attack occurs and how it can be treated.

What happens during a heart attack?

During a heart attack, the oxygen supply to part of the heart muscle is interrupted. This causes the region that is no longer supplied with oxygen to die after a short time. A heart attack can be the result of plaque formation in coronary heart disease, for example.

Plaques are deposits of fat and calcium that build up over time on the inner walls of the coronary arteries. The brittle material can become detached when small localised areas of inflammation develop. A blood clot first forms at the site where the plaque has detached. This clot, also known as a thrombus, is then swept away by the blood and lodges in the vessels supplying the heart muscle, blocking them off.

Physicians also refer to a heart attack as a myocardial infarction – "myocardium" is Latin for the heart muscle.

Causes of a heart attack

Whether a heart attack occurs is influenced by various risk factors. Some, such as a genetic predisposition, cannot be influenced, but others can.

Diseases such as poor kidney function or diabetes increase the risk of a heart attack. Therefore, you should take medication for symptoms such as high blood pressure or high blood sugar regularly, as recommended by your doctor.

A heart-healthy lifestyle significantly reduces your risk. The most important factor is to stop smoking.
Furthermore, a balanced diet with fibre and minimal animal fats is beneficial.

A heart-healthy lifestyle includes regular exercise. There are exercise groups specifically for patients with heart disease. In addition to a specially-trained coach, a physician is always present.

What are the different types of heart attacks?

The coronary arteries supply different areas of the heart muscle. Different parts of the heart die depending on which coronary artery the clot originates in. As a result, there are different types of anterior wall infarction and posterior wall infarction. As the name suggests, this refers to the anterior (front) or posterior (back) wall of the heart.

Physicians can use a so-called ECG, short for electrocardiogram, to determine which part of the heart muscle is affected. The ECG measures electrical currents produced by the heart that are necessary for normal heart activity. Deviations in these currents give clues to the location of the heart attack.

What symptoms accompany a heart attack?

Silent Heart Aattack

Where no signs manifest, and usually only becomes apparent at a much later stage during routine examinations. A silent infarction can occur with a posterior wall infarction as well as with an anterior wall infarction.

Severe Chest Pain

The chest pain often radiates to the arms, back, jaw or abdomen and is accompanied by an intense feeling of tightness or pressure across the chest and shortness of breath

Shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting

It is important to note that chest pain may be absent in women who have a heart attack. As there are only a few symptoms, there is a risk of confusion with other diseases.

Reacting quickly is extremely important in the event of a heart attack

The symptoms of a heart attack are often so severe that patients can no longer act on their own. It is therefore all the more important that you not only inform yourself about emergency measures by consulting with a physician , but also pass this knowledge on to friends and relatives.

Call the emergency services

If a heart attack is suspected, emergency services should be alerted immediately. Describe your symptoms to the emergency services, tell them where you are located and answer any queries they may have. Then take off constricting clothing and sit down. Wait for the ambulance to arrive. An ambulance will arrive at your home within a few minutes.

The golden hour

If your physician has prescribed a nitroglycerin spray, you should use it according to the recommendations. When sprayed under the tongue, this spray reduces the strain on the heart. Acting quickly is crucial, as a heart attack is best treated within the first hour. This is why doctors refer to the "golden hour" after a heart attack.