01/5Understanding what a heart attack
A heart attack is a critical medical emergency, posing a life-threatening risk that demands immediate attention. It occurs when the blood flow to the heart is significantly reduced or obstructed, usually due to the accumulation of fat, cholesterol, and other substances in the coronary arteries, forming plaques. The process of plaque buildup is termed atherosclerosis. Rupture of these plaques can lead to the sudden formation of blood clots, resulting in a myocardial infarction. Notably, not all heart attacks manifest with abrupt and intense chest pain associated with blocked blood flow to the heart.
02/5Emphasising the importance of timely intervention
Heart attack symptoms can exhibit gradually, ranging from mild to severe, and may vary between individuals and demographics. The longer the delay in addressing the issue and restoring blood flow, the more extensive the damage to the heart muscle, emphasising the crucial principle of “TIME IS MUSCLE” in myocardial infarction.
Read also: Is bathing daily harmful?
03/5Varied symptoms and signs
Symptoms may also fluctuate over several hours, differing between men and women and varying in the elderly. Common heart attack symptoms encompass chest pain or discomfort, which may radiate to the shoulder, arm, back, neck, jaw, teeth, or upper abdomen. Other symptoms include nausea, indigestion, heartburn, epigastric pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting, sweating, and vomiting. Occasionally, sudden cardiac arrest may be the initial sign of a heart attack.
04/5What are the risk factors involved?
Angina, caused by a temporary decrease in blood flow to the heart, often precedes a major heart attack, serving as a warning sign. Certain factors increase the risk of developing heart attacks, such as age, family history, smoking, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, kidney diseases, and high cholesterol levels.
05/5Essential steps in the face of a potential heart attack
In the event of a potential heart attack, it is crucial not to panic. Taking immediate action is vital:
Take a 325 mg aspirin tablet.
Use sublingual nitroglycerine (sorbitrate) for immediate pain relief, placing it beneath the tongue.
Seek prompt medical attention at a hospital equipped with interventional cardiology or cath lab facilities for immediate intervention, or where thrombolysis is available.
Diagnostic measures include an electrocardiogram (ECG) and assessing troponin levels in the blood to estimate myocardial damage and identify individuals at risk.
In some cases, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or defibrillation may be necessary to restore heart function. Bystanders trained in CPR or using a defibrillator can provide assistance until emergency medical personnel arrive.
It is crucial to remember that the sooner emergency treatment begins, the better the chances of surviving a heart attack.
(By Dr. Shabarinath Samudrala, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad)
End of Story