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Identifying Myocardial Infarction Symptoms: Recognizing Signs of a Heart Attack

Artemis Hospital

February 26, 2024 |
9 Min Read | 118

Over the past 40 years, there has been a significant evolution in our understanding of the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of myocardial infarction, commonly referred to as heart attack. It was typically regarded as a fatal incident that could only be identified through autopsy in the early 20th century. It was conservatively managed with prolonged bed rest and then a sedentary lifestyle up until the 1970s, when appropriate understanding of its usual clinical presentation and diagnosis was established. Subsequently, an abundance of knowledge has come to light, significantly modifying the comprehension of the disease's causes, transforming the therapeutic alternatives, ultimately yielding significantly better results.

It is crucial to understand the warning signs of a heart attack, which can differ from person to person. People also need to be aware of what to do in the event of a heart attack. It usually happens as a result of a blocked coronary artery, which lessens or completely shuts off the blood supply that feeds the heart muscle.

One common indicator of a heart attack is chest pain. On the other hand, an individual's age and gender may have an impact on their symptoms. Its critical to recognise a heart attack as soon as possible and get medical help right away. Treatment can reduce damage and improve the likelihood of a full recovery. This article gives insight to the different heart attack symptoms and how they can differ in older adults and women. Also know the potential risk factors in the following article.

What is Myocardial Infarction?

A myocardial infarction, also referred to as a heart attack, is a medical emergency that results from inadequate blood supply to the heart muscle. Although there are many other possible causes for the reduced blood flow, it is typically associated with an obstruction in one or more of the heart's arteries. The afflicted heart muscle will start to deteriorate without blood flow. A heart attack has the potential to be fatal or cause irreversible heart damage if blood flow is not promptly restored.

A heart attack is an emergency that could be fatal. Get medical assistance right away if you think you or someone you're with is having a heart attack. When treating a heart attack, time is of the essence; even a few-minute delay can cause irreversible heart damage or even death.

What are the Signs & Symptoms of Myocardial Infarction?

Chest pain is sometimes mistaken for a classic heart attack symptom. A heart attack, however, is not limited to the heart; it can impact the entire body. Different sexes and ages of people can have varied heart attack symptoms. If someone has worsening chest pain, discomfort, or shortness of breath, it's critical to consult a healthcare provider. This is particularly valid if it happens when you're sleeping. The following are some of the defining symptoms that most heart attacks have, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Chest Pain: Heart attacks typically involve pain or discomfort in the chests middle or left side. It may feel like a tight, heavy squeezing, fullness, or uncomfortable pressure. Less commonly, it can feel like a sharp pain.
  • Difficulty breathing: Usually, this accompanies pain in chest. However, shortness of breath may also begin before any chest discomfort.
  • Upper body pain: A person may feel pain or discomfort in one or both arms, typically the left one, which can radiate to the shoulders. This pain does not typically feel worse with movement, as with musculoskeletal or arthritis pain. There may also be pain in the neck, jaw, or back.
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Weakness & sweating profusely: An individual may feel weak, faint, or break out into a cold sweat.
  • Heart palpitations
  • Anxiety

Causes of Myocardial Infarction

The blockage in a blood vessel supplying the heart is the main culprit behind most heart attacks. Plaque, a sticky material that can accumulate inside your arteries, is the main cause of this. The buildup of cholesterol in blood vessels is characteristic of a disease called atherosclerosis.

Occasionally, plaque buildup within the coronary (heart) arteries may burst or rupture, leaving a blood clot lodged where the rupture occurred. A heart attack may result from the clot obstructing the artery, which would deprive the heart muscle of blood. Although it is uncommon and only makes up about 5% of heart attacks, heart attacks can also occur without a blockage. The following are some possible causes of this type of heart attack:

  • Coronary artery spasm.
  • Trauma
  • Electrolyte imbalance.
  • Eating disorders
  • Takotsubo or stress cardiomyopathy
  • Anomalous coronary arteries (a congenital heart defect)

Risk Factors of Myocardial Infarction

Various factors influence your risk of experiencing a heart attack, and unfortunately, some of these risk factors are beyond your control:

  • Family History: Due to genetic similarities, your risk is increased if you have a parent or sibling who has had a heart attack or heart disease, especially at a younger age. If your father or a brother was diagnosed with heart disease at age 55 or younger, your risk goes up. Additionally, the risk rises if your mother or a sister was diagnosed with heart disease at 65 years of age or younger.
  • Lifestyle: Adopting unhealthy lifestyle choices can raise your chance of suffering a heart attack. This covers habits like drug use, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and inactivity.
  • Age and Sex: As you age, your risk of a heart attack typically increases. Additionally, your assigned sex at birth plays a role in determining when this risk escalates. For individuals assigned male at birth (AMAB), the risk typically rises around age 45, whereas for those assigned female at birth (AFAB), it tends to increase at age 50 or following menopause.
  • Specific Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions put undue strain on the heart and raise the possibility of a heart attack. This includes having a history of preeclampsia, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or eating disorders.

How to Prevent Myocardial Infarction?

Even if you've already experienced a heart attack, there's always time to take preventative measures. Here's how to avoid having a heart attack.

  • Maintain a healthy way of life.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet and stay within a healthy weight range.
  • Exercise frequently and control your stress.
  • Mange your medical conditions appropriately. Diabetes and high blood pressure are two diseases that can make heart attacks more likely. Find out from your doctor how frequently you should get checked out.
  • Adhere to the directions on medication. Medication to safeguard and enhance the health of your heart may be prescribed by your healthcare provider.

Conclusion

To avoid irreversible heart damage, a blocked artery requires emergency care. If your symptoms aren't severe and intense, you might believe that you're not having a heart attack. Its advisable to have your symptoms examined, though. If you suspect a heart attack, get emergency care right away. It's also a good idea to become properly trained in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) so that you can assist someone experiencing a heart attack.

Think about enrolling in a recognised first-aid course that teaches you how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED) and perform CPR. You increase your chances of survival because time saved is equivalent to heart muscle saved.

Get in touch with the experts to get right advice on myocardial infarction symptoms and stay safe. Click here now.

FAQs

Q1: How do myocardial infarctions begin?

A: A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction, is caused by inadequate blood flow to a portion of the heart muscle. The damage to the heart muscle increases with the amount of time that goes by without treatment to restore blood flow.

Q2: Who is susceptible to a heart attack?

A: The highest risk of a heart event is found in men over 45 and women over menopause. One risk factor that you are not directly able to control but should be aware of is a family history of heart disease.

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