Myocardial Infarction

What is a Myocardial Infarction?

Myocardial infarction is the official medical term for what is colloquially known as a heart attack.

When a blockage develops in one of the two branches of the coronary artery that supplies the heart with oxygen-rich blood, part of the heart’s tissue dies of oxygen starvation. The process takes a few hours, so seeking treatment for a heart attack immediately can give the doctors a chance to restore blood flow and limit the damage to the heart.

Causes

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Atherosclerorsis
  • Clotting disorders
  • Use of illegal drugs like cocaine
  • Sudden exposure to very cold temperatures
  • Smoking

What are the Symptoms of a Myocardial Infarction?

The very first signs of a heart attack are the most important ones. If you notice chest pain that only lasts for a few minutes at a time, this is known as angina and it’s an early sign your heart’s blood flow is being blocked. About 75% of heart attacks include this kind of warning sign. Once a myocardial infarction occurs symptoms will begin.

Symptoms include

  • Chest pain and tightness, common for both men and women
  • Tightness in the jaw, neck, or shoulders
  • Nausea and vomiting, especially in women
  • Shortness of breath and resulting dizziness and lightheartedness
  • Radiating pain in either or both arms
  • Cold sweats and chills

Myocardial Infarction Causes

A myocardial infarction is more commonly known as a heart attack. It is a leading cause of death in most North American and European countries.

A heart attack occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart become blocked and deprive the heart of the oxygen that it needs to survive. This blockage normally occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries, causing them to narrow. The plaque may break off, causing an arterial blockage. Sometimes, a blood clot will form near an area of plaque and block off the heart’s blood supply.

The narrowing of the arteries that leads to myocardial infarction has several well-known causes. The primary cause is having a high level of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. This leads directly to the buildup of arterial plaque over time. A diet low in fat and processed foods will help lower cholesterol and keep one’s weight at a healthy level.

Having certain diseases is a cause of myocardial infarction. Those with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are at particular risk.

There is a genetic cause of myocardial infarction. Those who have had a close family member with heart disease will have a high likelihood of developing heart issues themselves.

How is a Myocardial Infarction Treated?

The faster you reach the hospital after noticing the symptoms, the greater your chances of surviving and recovering with minimal heart tissue damage.

Treatments include

Once the acute attack is addressed through the use of blockage clearing drugs and surgery, the doctor may use a stent to hold open the closed artery.

Other surgeries to prevent future heart attacks include bypasses that reroute the flow of blood, heart transplants if the heart tissue is very damaged. Lifestyle changes are also necessary to reduce the amount of stress on the heart.

Myocardial Infarction Prevention

There are some important ways through which heart attacks may be prevented. Generally, these means of prevention center around adopting a lifestyle that is healthy for the heart.

Adopting a diet that is low in fat and red meat will help to keep cholesterol and triglyceride levels down. Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet will help keep one’s weight at a proper level, minimizing stress on the heart.

Exercise is important in preventing myocardial infarction. Aerobic exercises help to strengthen the heart muscle, and they help to keep blood pressure low.

It is important to keep blood pressure within the normal range. High blood pressure puts great stress on the coronary arteries and contributes to the build-up of arterial plaque. Cutting down on sodium in the diet and getting proper exercise will help to keep your blood pressure within the normal range.