A heart attack or Myocardial Infarction occurs when the supply of blood and oxygen to an area of heart muscle is blocked, usually by a clot in a coronary artery. Often, this blockage leads to arrhythmias that cause a severe decrease in the pumping function of the heart and may bring about sudden death. If the blockage is not treated within a few hours, the affected heart muscle will die and be replaced by scar tissue.A heart attack is a life-threatening event. Everyone should know the warning signs of a heart attack and how to get emergency help.
Many people suffer permanent damage to their hearts or die because they do not get help immediately.If care is sought soon enough, blood flow in the blocked artery can be restored in time to prevent permanent damage to the heart. Yet, most people do not seek medical care for 2 hours or more after symptoms begin. Many people wait 12 hours or longer.
Cardiac arrest strikes immediately and without warning. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense but most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected are not sure what is wrong and wait too long before getting help.Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back.
It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.May occur with or without chest discomfort.These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breathand back or jaw pain.
Even though the symptoms of a heart attack at times can be vague and mild, it is important to remember that heart attacks producing no symptoms or only mild symptoms can be just as serious and life-threatening as heart attacks that cause severe chest pain.One cannot overemphasize the importance of seeking prompt medical attention in the presence of symptoms that suggest a heart attack. Early diagnosis and treatment saves lives, and delays in reaching medical assistance can be fatal. A delay in treatment can lead to permanently reduced function of the heart due to more extensive damage to the heart muscle. This pain may travel to the neck, jaw, arms, back, or even the teeth, and may be accompanied by shortness of breath, nausea, or a cold sweat. Both resting and nitroglycerin decrease the heart muscle’s demand for oxygen, thus relieving angina. Exceptional angina may be the first warning sign of advanced coronary artery disease.