What is Heart Attack?
Heart Attack or myocardial infarction (MI) is a medical condition associated with decreased blood flow in the heart or malfunctioning of a part of the heart, resulting in failure of the organ or a slight damage to the muscles in the heart. The condition or the attack lasts for more than a few minutes and is fatal.
A heart attack may or may not cause a few warning signs. The signs include:
- pain or discomfort in the chest
- excessive sweating
- lightheadedness or dizziness
Causes of Heart Attack:
A heart attack is caused due to the blockage of one or more coronary arteries. The arteries are blocked due to the deposition of various substances, such as cholesterol in the arteries. In simple terms, building up of plaque in arteries (atherosclerosis) narrows down the passage and prevents blood from getting to the heart muscle.
Symptoms of a heart attack may vary in men and women. However, a few common symptoms are:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
Possible risk factors of Heart Attack
Risk factors of heart attack can be divided into two categories – one that can be changed and control and second, that can’t be changed.
Risk factors that can’t be changed are:
- Age: People aged 65 years and above are at a greater risk of a heart attack.
- Sex: As compared to females, males are at a greater risk of getting a heart attack.
- Family history: Patients with a family history of obesity, high blood pressure or diabetes, are at an increased risk of a heart attack.
- Race: Studies show that people of African descent are more prone to get a heart attack.
Other risk factors that can be controlled are:
- Consumption of alcohol
- High cholesterol
- Physical inactivity
- Fatty diet
Symptoms of a heart attack might match with other medical conditions. Thus, the diagnosis of a heart attack is confirmed by a doctor after performing physical examination and electrocardiogram (ECG).
The doctor may also perform a few other diagnostic tests to assess the damage caused to heart muscles.
To start with the treatment, the doctor starts with a few tests to assess the location and extent of the blockage. One common test that is used by doctors is cardiac catheterisation. The process involves the insertion of a probe into the blood vessels through a soft flexible tube called a catheter. The doctor may also inject dye into the arteries through the catheter and perform an X-ray to assess the blood flow. After assessing the blood flow, the doctor may ask the patient to undergo different surgical procedures such as:
- Angioplasty: A surgical procedure that uses a balloon to remove blockage or plaque buildup from the artery.
- Stent: A wire mesh tube that is inserted into the artery after angioplasty to keep the artery open.
- Heart bypass surgery: A surgical procedure in which the doctor reroutes the flow of blood through a healthy
- Heart valve surgery: A surgical procedure in which the damaged or leaking valves are replaced with artificial valves to help the heart pump.
- Pacemaker: A pacemaker is a metal implant that is implanted beneath the skin to maintain a normal rhythm of the heart.
- Heart transplant: It is a complicated surgical procedure that is advised when the heart attack has caused permanent tissue death to most of the heart.
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