A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction (MI), occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked for a prolonged period, leading to damage or death of the heart muscle tissue. This is usually caused by a blockage in one or more of the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle.
The most common cause of a heart attack is the buildup of fatty deposits, cholesterol, and other substances in the arteries (atherosclerosis), leading to the formation of a plaque. This plaque can rupture and cause a blood clot to form, which can block the flow of blood to the heart muscle.
Symptoms of a heart attack can vary but may include:
- Chest pain or discomfort, which may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
- Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body, such as the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath.
- Nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, or fainting.
- Cold sweats.
It’s essential to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack and seek immediate medical attention if you or someone else is experiencing them. Prompt treatment can help minimize damage to the heart muscle and improve outcomes.
Treatment for a heart attack typically involves medications to help dissolve blood clots, reduce the workload on the heart, and prevent further complications. In some cases, procedures such as angioplasty and stent placement or coronary artery bypass surgery may be necessary to restore blood flow to the heart.
Preventive measures to reduce the risk of heart attacks include maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, managing stress, avoiding smoking, and controlling conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider can also help monitor and manage risk factors for heart disease.