Your heart is a muscular pump slightly larger than your fist. It pumps blood throughout your body through the circulatory system. Your blood has the oxygen that every cell in your body needs. Your heart pumps oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to the heart and from there to the rest of the body. A heart attack occurs when there is a blockage in the artery that supplies blood to the heart. The most common symptom of a heart attack is chest discomfort or pain that can radiate to the neck, back, jaw, and arms. Chest discomfort or pain may last a few minutes or come and go. A heart attack requires emergency treatment to restore blood flow to your heart.
“What is a heart attack?” The answer to the question can be given as the condition that occurs when the blood flow to the heart is interrupted or cut off. If the blood to the heart is not rich in oxygen, it can damage the affected area. As a result, the heart muscle begins to die. If your heart isn't getting the blood and oxygen it needs to function properly, this can put you at higher risk for heart failure and other serious complications. The sooner you receive medical treatment that restores normal blood flow to your heart, the better your chances of a successful outcome.
Heart attack symptoms are different for everyone. Some people have mild symptoms, others can be severe, and some people have no symptoms at all. General symptoms are:
Heart attack is divided into different types as NSTEMI, STEMI and coronary spasm (unstable angina). These types are as follows:
STEMI: It is a crisis pattern that manifests itself as an elevation in the ST segment in the ECG examination. This type of heart attack occurs as a result of complete occlusion of the coronary arteries and is seen as a deterioration in the nutrition of a large part of the heart tissue.
NSTEMI: In this type of heart attack, ST segment elevation is not seen, but it can still damage the heart tissue. In NSTEMI, the coronary arteries are partially occluded, and therefore, there may be no changes in the region expressed by the ST segment in the ECG examination.
Coronary spasm (unstable angina): It is a hidden heart attack. It is similar to STEMI as a symptom, but can be confused with complaints such as digestive problems and muscle pain. It occurs due to contractions in the heart vessels. It does not cause any damage to the heart tissue during the attack, but it may cause an increase in the risk of having a seizure in the later periods. Therefore, it should not be neglected.
One of the most common causes of heart attack is the formation of fatty plaques in the vessels that feed the heart. In addition, ruptures or clots in the veins can also cause crisis. Other reasons are as follows:
With the rupture of the plaques formed by the accumulation of fat on the vessel wall, the vessel gets clogged and the blood requirements of the heart muscle cannot be met. As a result of this situation, the heart muscle cells begin to die and the heart muscle loses its function.
Tightness and burning sensation in the chest area, shortness of breath, sweating and pallor are the first symptoms of the crisis. If the heart vessel is completely occluded, these symptoms continue for hours and require intervention. If the vessel is not blocked but there is narrowing, it may present with severe chest pain for 10-15 minutes.
“What to do during a heart attack?” are among the frequently asked questions. Chest pain, one of the first signs of heart attack, manifests itself with burning and pressure, and then spreads from the neck to the arm. In the meantime, cold sweating begins on the forehead and back. Most of the time, severe pain is experienced and in some cases only a mild discomfort. During a heart attack the pain may increase with increasing physical activity. The pain which decreases with rest, does not go away completely. This may last longer than 30 minutes and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and cold sweats. For this reason, whether chest pain is mild or severe, it should be evaluated immediately and medical attention should be sought without delay. It is also important for the person having a heart attack to avoid movements such as climbing stairs. If symptoms are pointing towards a heart attack 112 should be called without wasting time. Clothing such as ties or shirts should be loosened. It should be ensured that the environment is filled with plenty of oxygen. If the person experiences the symptoms of a heart attack while driving, he or she should immediately stop the vehicle and seek help.
In order to open the clogged vessel after a heart attack, angiography is performed and the occluded vessel is opened with a stent. Stent insertion, which is a surgical intervention, has some risks and there is a possibility that some vessels may not be stented successfully. In this case, if there are situations such as re-occlusion or narrowing of the vessel, the person may have a heart attack for the second time. For this reason, after the stent is placed, drugs should be used for the period recommended by the doctor and recommendations should be followed closely.
ECG is one of the first tests employed to detect a heart attack. During the ECG, which is performed with electrodes placed on the extremities and the chest and allows to measure the electrical activity of the heart, electrical signals are reflected on the monitor or paper. In addition, various biochemical analyses are also useful in the diagnosis of heart attack. Radiological examinations such as chest X-ray, computed tomography, echocardiography and resonance imaging can also be used. In addition, angiography is an important tool in the diagnosis and treatment. During angiography blood vessels are examined by placing a thin wire through the veins in the thigh or arm. In case of obstruction, the vessel can be opened with angioplasty.
Heart attack, which is an emergency, should be followed under the support of a specialist as soon as it manifests itself with symptoms. It should not be forgotten that most of the deaths due to heart attacks occur within the first 1-2 hours after the onset of the crisis. For this reason, the necessary diagnosis should be made quickly and the intervention should be done correctly. Necessary emergency treatments are applied to patients who come to the emergency department with the complaint of heart attack, and after the administration of blood thinners, the patient is directed to a cardiologist. At this stage, when necessary, angiography can be applied and, depending on the angiography results, surgical procedure is performed or drug treatment is planned. Bypass surgery, angioplasty and stent are the main treatment options.
Some precautions should be taken to prevent the situation from happening again. These measures are: