An Overview of Heart Attack Complications

An Overview of Heart Attack Complications

Oct 01, 2021

A heart attack takes place when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked, most often due to a buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries. Plaque is a combination of fatty acids and cholesterol that buildup over time. It narrows the arteries in a condition called coronary artery disease – a common cause of heart attacks. When the plaque raptures during a heart attack, it spills cholesterol into the bloodstream and forms a blood clot. A large clot blocks blood from flowing through the coronary artery and keeps oxygen and nutrients from reaching the heart. The coronary artery may be partially or completely blocked.

The use of tobacco and illicit drugs can also cause a heart attack. They may cause a spasm of the coronary artery and shut down blood from flowing to the heart muscle. A COVID-19 infection may also damage the heart and cause a heart attack. When you go to the ER for heart problems, they will diagnose the cause of your heart attack.

Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack

Different people have symptoms varying in severity during a heart attack. Some have no symptoms, and the heart attack strikes suddenly. Hours, days, or weeks before an attack, you may have recurring chest pain or pressure triggered by strenuous activity. This is an early warning of a heart attack that occurs when blood flow to the heart decreases temporarily. The chest pain or pressure is relieved by rest.
You should not wait for the pain to stop on its own but seek emergency treatment for a heart attack. If your doctor has previously prescribed some nitroglycerin or aspirin, you may take some to reduce the damage to your heart as you wait for treatment.

Common signs of a heart attack are:

  • Pain, pressure, tightness, or an aching sensation in your chest or arms which may spread to your back, neck, or jaw
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Fast or uneven heartbeat
  • Cold sweat
  • Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness
  • Indigestion, fullness, or a chocking feeling that feels like heartburn
  • Severe weakness
  • Nausea or vomiting

When to Go To the ER for Chest Pain

Call a 24-hour ER if you experience chest pain accompanied by shortness of breath, lightheadedness or sudden weakness, sweating, fast or irregular heartbeat, nausea, and vomiting. Emergency treatment to open the blocked artery will lessen the damage caused by the heart attack. If someone near you becomes unconscious due to a heart attack, call Express ER in Harker Heights for emergency medical help immediately.
When the person has no pulse or is not breathing, begin CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) immediately. Push hard in a fairly rapid manner on the person’s chest if you are not trained in CPR.

Heart Attack Diagnosis

When you go to an ER near you for chest pain and other symptoms of a heart attack, they will carry out a diagnosis to identify the cause of your chest pain for suitable treatment. Diagnostic tests for heart attack include:

    1. Electrocardiogram

This is a test that records the electrical activity of your heart to tell where and how much the heart has been damaged.

    1. Echocardiography

It is an ultrasound test used during and after the heart attack to find out how the heart is pumping and where it is not pumping as required.

    1. Cardiac catheterization

This is a test that shows an image of the artery that is blocked to help the doctor choose a suitable treatment.

    1. Stress testing

A radionuclide scan or a treadmill test is carried out to find out if other areas of the heart are at risk of another heart attack.

    1. Blood tests

Several blood tests are done to help the doctor diagnose a heart attack. They also show any ongoing damage to the heart.

Heart Attack Treatment

Some of the medications used to treat a heart attack are:

  • Aspirin to reduce blood clotting
  • Platelet aggregation inhibitors to prevent new clots
  • Thrombolytic to help dissolve a blood clot
  • Nitroglycerin for pain
  • Beta-blockers to limit heart muscle damage
  • ACE inhibitors to lower blood pressure
  • Statins to lower blood cholesterol

Prevention of a Heart Attack

  • Go for frequent monitoring by your doctor
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Take a heart-healthy diet
  • Do not smoke
  • Manage stress
  • Exercise regularly
  • Seek treatment for conditions that can lead to a heart attack

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