Heart Attack
By: Kayse Ellis
Renee Lowen

                                                         What is a heart attack?

It occurs when a portion of the heart is deprived of oxygen due to blockage of a coronary artery.  Coronary arteries supply the heart muscle with oxygenated blood. Without oxygen muscle cells served by the blocked artery begin to die.

                                                              Causes of this disorder

It is often caused by artheroscelerosis which is a built up of fatty plaque and other material inside the artery. The plaque is covered by a lining of fibrous material. That lining can rupture, allowing the plaque to be released and a blood clot to form. Irreversible damage begins within 30 minutes of blockage.

                                                               Symptoms of a Heart Attack

A crushing, squeezing, or burning pain, pressure, or fullness in the center of the chest; the pain may radiate to the neck, one or both arms, the shoulders, or the jaw. The chest discomfort lasts more than a few minutes. It can diminish in intensity and return. Shortness of breathe, dizziness, nausea, heartburn, upset stomach, sweating of feeling "the chills", a weak, fast pulse, and irregular heart beat, cold, clammy skin, or gray color to the face, fainting or loss of consciousness, fatigue. You may not feel all of these symptoms. Some people experience no symptoms this is called silent ischemia. Women may have some different symptoms as men. They may not experience chest pain but have other symptoms, such as pain high in the abdomen, jaw, back, or neck or non-pain symptoms like shortness of breath or fatigue.

                                                                        Diagnostic Tests

In order to diagnose a heart attack an emergency care team will ask you about your symptoms and begin to evaluate you. The diagnosis of the heart attack is based on your symptoms and test results. The goal of treatment is to treat you quickly and limit heart muscle damage. There are four tests to diagnose a heart attack. The first one is ECG which is known as electrocardiogram which can tell how much damage has occurred to your heart muscle and where it has occurred. The second one is blood tests. Blood may be drawn to measure levels of cardiac enzymes that indicate heart muscle damage. These enzymes are normally found inside the cells of your heart and are needed for their function. The third one is echocardiography which is an imaging test that can be used during and after a heart attack to learn how the heart is pumping and what areas are not pumping normally. The "echo" can also tell if any structures of the heart have been injured during the heart attack. The fourth one is cardiac catheterization which is also called cardiac cath which may be used during the first hours of a heart attack if medications are not relieving the ischemia or symptoms. The cardiac cath can be used to directly visualize the blocked artery and help your doctor determine which procedure is needed to treat the blockage.


The goal after your heart attack is to keep your heart healthy and reduce your risks of having another heart attack. Your best bet to ward off future attacks are to take your medications, change your lifestyle, and see your doctor for regular heart check ups.


Drugs and surgical procedures are used to treat a heart attack. These medications must be given as soon as possible to decrease the amount of heart damage. The longer the delay in starting these drugs, the more damage can occur and the less benefit they can provide. Drugs used during a heart attack include: aspirin to prevent blood clotting that may worsen the heart attack. Other antiplatelets, such as brilinta,effient, or Plavix, to prevent blood clotting. Thrombocytopenia therapy "clot busters" to dissolve any blood clots in the heart arteries. Other drugs, given during or after a heart attack, lessen your hearts work, improve the functioning of the heart, widen or dilate your blood vessels, decrease your pain, and guard against any life-threatening heart rhythms.


Complications of a heart attack include: abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia) if your heart muscle is damaged from a heart attack, electorical "short circuits" can develop, resulting in abnormal heart rhythms, some of which can be serious, even fatal. Heart failure which is the amount of damaged tissue in your heart may be so great that the remaining heart muscle can't do an adequate job of pumping blood out of your heart. Heart failure may be temporary problem that goes away after your heart which has been stunned by a heart attack, recovers. Heart rupture which are areas of heart muscle weakened by a heart attack can rupture, leaving a hole in part of the heart. This rupture is often fatal. Valve problems which are heart valves damaged during s heart attack may develop severe, life- threatening leakage problems.






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