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Managing Heart Health: Insights Into Myocardial Infarction

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Myocardial infarction is a threatening condition caused by a lack of adequate blood flow to the heart muscles. This article is an overview of myocardial infarction.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Muhammad Zohaib Siddiq

Published At November 28, 2023
Reviewed AtNovember 28, 2023

Introduction

Myocardial infarction is also commonly referred to as a heart attack. Heart attack is an exceedingly dangerous condition for an individual. There is an absence of blood flow to the muscles of the heart during a myocardial infarction. The reason for this lack of blood flow varies from different factors to different underlying conditions. However, blockage of the heart arteries is generally one of the most common causes of a heart attack or a myocardial infarction (MI). During this, one or more areas of the heart are devoid of blood and, thus, oxygen.

Who Are at Risk for a Myocardial Infarction or Heart Attack?

The more prone people to an episode of myocardial infarction or a heart attack can be segregated into two main categories- inherited individuals and acquired individuals. Genetic risk factors due to inheritance can not be altered. Nevertheless, lifestyle modifications and medical aid can improve those genetic factors.

  • Individuals with an inheritance of high blood pressure or hypertension.

  • Individuals with low levels of HDL or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

  • Patients with high levels of low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol.

  • Having high levels of triglycerides.

  • A family history of heart conditions.

  • Geriatric men and women.

  • Patients with a history of diabetes mellitus type 1.

  • Women post-menopause.

People who come under the category of acquired risk of myocardial infarction or heart attack are mentioned below. They do not have any link with their genetic makeup but have themselves brought the risk to their own health due to several lifestyle habits.

  • Acquired blood pressure due to high intake of sodium-rich foods.

  • Acquired low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol due to the large intake of fatty foods.

  • Acquire high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol due to increased intake of deep-fried foods.

  • Chain smokers.

  • Unintentional or intentional stress.

  • Heavy intake of alcohol.

  • Obesity.

  • Sedentary lifestyle.

  • No physical activity in the daily routine.

  • Being overweight or obese according to body mass index measurements.

  • People who eat a diet rich in sugar.

  • High intake of saturated fats.

  • People have developed diabetes due to the daily intake of large amounts of glucose and sweets.

What Are the Symptoms of a Myocardial Infarction or Heart Attack?

Every individual may not show all the classical signs of a heart attack. A myocardial infarction has clinical manifestations that vary from individual to individual depending upon their underlying cause and multiple other factors. Below mentioned are some of the classical signs and symptoms experienced by the majority of the people who have undergone an episode of myocardial infarction or a heart attack.

  • Sweating.

  • Pale skin.

  • Cool hands and extremities.

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Chest pain gets worse over time.

  • Severe pressure on the chest.

  • Feeling of fullness.

  • Pain and squeezing sensation in the chest.

  • Discomfort or pain in the middle of the chest remains for a few minutes and then returns.

  • Discomfort or pain that reaches the left shoulder or both shoulders.

  • Discomfort or pain spreads to the left arm and jaws or both arms and jaws.

  • Pain or tightness in the neck.

  • Chest pain does not reduce even after the sublingual administration of nitroglycerin.

  • Nausea.

  • Vomiting.

  • Dizziness.

  • Fainting.

  • Fatigues.

  • Lightheadedness.

  • Weakness.

  • Rapid pulse.

  • Unexplained wheezing.

  • Anxiety.

  • Stomach pain.

  • Severe crushing, like chest pain.

  • Insomnia.

  • Malaise.

What Are the Causes of a Myocardial Infarction or Heart Attack?

Most heart attacks or myocardial infarctions occur due to blockage of the heart vessels, one or all. This blockage is generally due to a sticky substance called plaque deposition. Plaque builds up in the inner walls and surfaces of the heart's arteries and thus narrows them. This buildup is responsible for decreased blood flow and is called atherosclerosis. These buildups can form a clot in the flowing blood, thus turning into a blockage in the artery- resulting in a myocardial infarction or heart attack. There are less than five percent of heart attacks occur without any cause.

  • Spasms of the heart's arteries can twitch and cut off the blood flow to the heart muscles.

  • Atypical narrowing of the heart's blood vessels due to a rare medical disease.

  • Trauma that ruptures the heart.

  • An embolism or obstruction.

  • Abnormalities with the levels of potassium in the blood.

  • Overeating.

How to Diagnose Myocardial Infarction or Heart Attack?

Many laboratory tests and investigations are used to diagnose and conclude a myocardial infarction or heart attack case.

  • Cardiac Biomarkers and Cardiac Enzymes: These are substances released into the bloodstream during a heart attack, and their levels can be measured to help diagnose the condition.

  • Troponin Levels: Tests for troponin levels are specific biomarker tests that are highly sensitive in diagnosing a heart attack.

  • Lipid Profile Evaluation: Lipid profile evaluation measures different types of cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which can indicate the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks.

  • Metabolic Panel: An exhaustive metabolic panel measures various substances in the blood, including electrolytes and glucose, which can help assess overall health and detect any abnormalities related to a heart attack.

  • Electrocardiography: It is a non-invasive test that records the heart's electrical activity and can identify abnormal rhythms or patterns associated with a heart attack.

  • Cardiac Imaging: Imaging techniques, such as echocardiography, cardiac CT scan, or cardiac MRI, provide detailed images of the heart's structure and function and can help diagnose a heart attack and assess its severity.

How to Treat Myocardial Infarction or Heart Attack?

Patients who complain of chest pain should be supplemented with oxygen if the saturation level is less than 90 percent - spontaneous administration of non-enteric-coated chewable Aspirin. Sublingual Nitroglycerin or spray can also be given. Telemetry (automatic collection and transmission of data from remote or inaccessible sources to a central location for monitoring and analysis) if the availability of it is possible. Patients are then shifted to the intensive cardiac care unit, where cardiologists and multidisciplinary professionals initiate the best line of treatment as per the patient’s condition. The main aim of treatment is to limit the myocardial infarct, recanalize any infarct-related arteries, and retrieve the threatened myocardium.

Conclusion

Myocardial infarction or, in simple terms, a heart attack can happen to anybody. One must take ample time to educate oneself about the risk factors that apply to every individual. Then, steps shall be taken to reduce or cancel the involved risk factors. A healthy diet plays a crucial role in developing any coronary artery disease. Post-treatment of myocardial infarction, patients should be educated about low cholesterol and low sodium diet and its benefits. Additional emphasis on decreasing the onset of a sedentary life and initiating a physical activity or exercise routine should be established. Classes to quit smoking should also be offered to patients. The patient's family members must also be educated regarding the same.

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Dr. Muhammad Zohaib Siddiq
Dr. Muhammad Zohaib Siddiq

Cardiology

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