Heart attack, known medically as a myocardial infarction (MI for short)
WHAT? The supply of blood to the heart is very suddenly cut off, this can seriously damage the muscles of the heart.
WHERE? The heart.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- Chest pain (often described as a ‘pressing’ or a ‘squeezing’ pain)
- Pain can range from jaw to the arms and back.
- Inability to catch breath
- A feeling of weakness
- Extreme anxiety and panic
- coughing or wheezing
It is important to note that not all patients feel overwhelming pain in their chest, it is not the severity of pain that is used to diagnose a heart attack but rather the pattern of symptoms.
HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED? An ECG should be carried out within 10 minutes of arrival in hospital. This will not only confirm the heart attack, but will specify the type of heart attack. An ECG is painless and takes around 5 minutes to perform. It measures the electrical activity of the heart via electrodes on placed on your body attached to the ECG machine which records the electrical impulses.
TREATMENT? Before paramedics arrive, patients can be given an aspirin which will thin their blood and help restore blood flow.
There are many different types of heart attacks. Medication can be used to destroy the blood clot and therefore re-establish blood flow to the heart. Or surgery may be required to widen the coronary artery, this technique is called coronary angioplasty.
CAUSES? The arteries becoming ‘clogged’ up with cholesterol, these deposits are called plaques. This leads to coronary heart disease. The chances of developing CHD are increased by obesity, smoking and a high fat diet.