Some are sudden and intense, while others are mild and slow – heart attacks come in various types and intensity, but most of them can be life-threatening if not given proper medical attention. Every year, many men and women die from the disease, making it one of the most common causes of deaths among adults.
How Does Heart Attack Happen?
Cardiac muscles need oxygen to function and survive. During a heart attack, the oxygen supply provided by the blood does not reach the cardiac muscles, because the pathway is severely obstructed by a plaque. These plaques are the result of too much fat and cholesterol accumulation in the arteries that, in the long run, cause obstruction in the blood pathway. Although this process is a long one, too much accumulation of plaque can eventually wear off in the arteries and this can clog in the blood supply of the cardiac muscles. Subsequently, the cardiac muscles become starved or deprived of oxygen and other important nutrients transported by the arteries. This is condition is known as ischemia. When ischemia causes damaged to a part of the heart or the cardiac muscles, it can result to myocardial infarction, which is more commonly known as heart attack.
Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
The most common symptom is chest pain or discomfort that lasts more than 5 to 10 minutes. Sometimes, though, the pain disappears and comes back intermittently. The kind of pain usually felt by patients include a squeezing sensation followed by shortness of breathing. Victims cannot usually go deep breathing, because the pain becomes more severe. Other common symptoms include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, stomach, back and jaw, lightheadedness, nausea, and cold clammy skin.
Important Questions to Ponder:
Can it Permanently Injure the Heart – Heart attack can cause injury to the heart muscle, which can eventually lead to death if not given prompt treatment. But the injury can be reverted as long as management and treatment is started early. The injury may depend on the depth and severity of the affected heart muscles, which means that the healing process can be slow or fast. The length of healing time, therefore, depends on the extent of the injury.
Other Possible Causes Aside from Blockage – Even though there are no blockages in the arteries, heart attack can still occur as a result of the arteries contracting or going into spasms. When this happens, the blood pathway narrows down, decreasing the blood flow going to and from the heart.
Related Video on Heart Attack:
“Heart Attack.” American Heart Association. Retrieved online on August 14, 2014 from http://watchlearnlive.heart.org/CVML_Player.php?moduleSelect=hrtatk
“Warning Signs of Heart Attack, Stroke & Cardiac Arrest.” American Heart Association. Retrieved online on August 14, 2014 from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/911-Warnings-Signs-of-a-Heart-Attack_UCM_305346_SubHomePage.jsp