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Heart Attack

aka Myocardial Infarction

A heart attack results when there is reduced or obstructed flow of blood through the coronary arteries that supply the heart muscle. This may result in permanent damage to a portion or the heart muscle.

Immediate medical attention is required if the following symptoms are noticed.

Symptoms – Include heavy or crushing pressure on the chest, pain into the neck and jaw, or into the arms. Other symptoms include difficulty breathing (or shortness of breath), sweating, nausea, or vomiting.

Cause – Reduced blood flow through the coronary arteries may result from hardening of the arteries (Arteriosclerosis), plaqueing of the arteries (Atherosclerosis), a Blood Clot, or spasm of the coronary arteries.

Risk factors associated with heart attack include smoking, obesity, diet high in fat, refined sugar and salt, lack of physical activity, family history of heart disease, or Diabetes Mellitus.

Diagnosis – If the aforementioned symptoms are observed, immediate medical attention is necessary. After hospitalization, diagnostic tests may be performed including physical examination, ECG (electrocardiogram), blood tests, or an angiogram (study of the flow of blood through the vessels).

Treatment – May involve emergency procedures such as electrical stimulation to restart the heart or reset the normal heartbeat. After the patient is stabilized, surgery may be necessary. This may involve balloon angioplasty, bypass surgery, or insertion of a pacemaker. A physician may prescribe medication to stabilize the attack such as beta-adrenergic blockers or calcium-channel blockers, anticoagulants, digitalis, or pain relievers. A physician may also recommend the use of 1 aspirin/day after a heart attack.