According to some statistics, cardiovascular diseases are the cause of over 50% of premature deaths in our country. The most common disease of this type is coronary artery disease. It can take a stable or unstable form, often leading to a heart attack.
From the text you will learn:
- what are the causes of a heart attack,
- what the symptoms of a heart attack may be,
- how a heart attack is treated.
Coronary artery disease – also known as ischemic heart disease – is a chronic disease caused by the build-up of atherosclerotic plaque in the vessels, which narrows their lumen, leading to impaired blood transport to the heart. If the atherosclerotic plaque partially narrows the lumen of the vessel, it is a stable coronary disease, also known as angina. However, if the vessel is completely closed and blood stops reaching the heart, it is a very dangerous and life-threatening heart attack . The longer a given vessel remains closed, the larger the area of the heart is necrotic and the risk of irreversible damage and, consequently, even death increases.
Heart attack – causes
As previously mentioned, a heart attack is the most severe and severe form of coronary artery disease. The immediate cause of a heart attack is the complete blockage of the artery that supplies blood to the heart by the plaque. The risk factors for both atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease, and thus indirectly the causes of a heart attack , include:
- age (the risk of a heart attack increases in the elderly),
- too caloric, fatty diet,
- overweight and obesity,
- insufficient physical activity.
Myocardial infarction is also often associated with other chronic diseases typical of old age: dyslipidemia, hypertension and diabetes.
Heart attack – symptoms
The main symptoms of a heart attack are, first of all, quite characteristic pain. The patient develops a very strong, sharp, piercing pain in the area of the sternum – it is difficult to locate one painful point because the symptoms are felt throughout the chest. Sometimes it radiates to the shoulder, hand and jaw. A pain attack during a heart attack sometimes lasts about 20-30 minutes. In some patients the symptoms appear and disappear, and in others – especially in old age – they are not felt at all.
In these situations, the symptoms of a heart attack may include:
- dizziness ,
- cold sweats.
When you notice such symptoms, you should call an ambulance as soon as possible. First aid in the event of a heart attack is of great importance – the so-called golden hour. If treatment is instituted within the first hour of onset of symptoms, there is a good chance that the most dramatic effects of a heart attack in the form of irreversible myocardial necrosis and death, will be avoided.
Heart attack – treatment
After the diagnosis (it usually includes an ECG and a laboratory measurement of blood levels of troponin, i.e. a protein produced by damaged heart cells), the patient is treated appropriately. Depending on the extent of the heart attack (the area of the heart muscle that has necrotized), your general health and your individual needs, treatment may include medication and / or surgery. The pharmacological treatment of myocardial infarction involves the use of anticoagulants (e.g. aspirin) and blood cholesterol regulators (e.g. statins). The patient undergoes a bypass surgery or arterial angioplasty if required.
Elderly people who want to protect themselves against a heart attack, as well as those after a heart attack, must of course remember about the principles of primary and secondary prevention. A healthy diet, regular physical activity and cardiovascular examinations will reduce the risk of a heart attack .