ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Heart Attack Causes and Prevention

Updated on January 29, 2010

A heart attack is due to part of the heart not receiving sufficient blood. The heart is made almost entirely of muscle, but it cannot obtain the necessary oxygen and other vital elements from the blood within it, because the chambers of the heart are lined with an impervious membrane and there are no fine blood vessels leading into the heart muscle from the chambers. All the blood to keep the heart alive and well passes through three small arteries that circle around the heart and send small vessels into the muscle. If one of these arteries is blocked, one part of the heart muscle cannot obtain sufficient blood, and dies. This is a heart attack or myocardial infarct. If you put a tight rubber band around your finger, you cut off the finger's blood supply. It rapidly becomes painful and would eventually wither and die. The same thing happens in the heart, but more rapidly, because the heart must keep working hard with every beat, while your finger is at rest.

The arteries of the heart can be blocked by fatty deposits that build up in the arteries because the patient is overweight or has high cholesterol levels, by clots or fat globules breaking off from damaged blood vessels elsewhere in the body and blocking an artery, or by damage to the artery from many years of high blood pressure.

Many patients feel unusual chest discomfort, a change in their angina pattern, or complain of 'indigestion' for hours, days or even weeks before a heart attack. When the heart attack occurs, the patient feels a severe crushing pain in the chest and shortness of breath. The pain builds up rapidly in waves, and then persists for some time before gradually fading. The pain may be accompanied by sweating, weakness, anxiety, dizziness, cough, nausea and vomiting. Most patients seek medical aid rapidly because of the severity of the symptoms, and this is vital, because doctors can give medications by injection that stabilize the heart and prevent it from stopping completely. Unfortunately, some heart attacks create minimal discomfort, and may be dismissed by the patient as a passing attack of severe indigestion.

If you feel that you, or someone with you, is having a heart attack, call an ambulance (use the 000 number) and your general practitioner. Once you are under the care of a doctor, your chances of survival are good, because of the many medications and treatments available to stop abnormal heartbeats, which are the normal cause of death in a heart attack. Doctors can also give injections to relieve the crushing, severe pain, and relieve the intense anxiety of the patient. Less than 20% of patients die immediately from a heart attack.

Once in hospital, the victim will be kept in a coronary care ward under the constant eye of specially trained nurses and doctors who can instantly deal with any further deterioration.

Treatment will include drugs to break up the blood clot blocking the coronary artery that supplies the heart with blood, and a complex cocktail of other medications to regulate the functioning of the heart. Most of these will be given into an intravenous drip in the arm. After a few days, you will be allowed to rest in a normal ward while the heart heals. Then after 10 to 14 days, you can go home for a further six or more weeks rest.

The heart attack is diagnosed by an electrocardiogram and by blood tests that can detect abnormal chemicals produced by the heart muscle damage. Chest X-rays will be performed, but more to check the state of the lungs and size of the heart than to diagnose the presence of a heart attack.

The secret of recovery lies in gradually increasing levels of exercise over many weeks in order to slowly strengthen the heart. Manual workers can often return to their jobs after a couple of months, and provided they look after their general health, most heart attack victims will lead a normal and full life.

After the initial recovery period, further investigations will be undertaken to determine the cause of the heart attack and to see if further surgical or medical treatment can be undertaken to prevent another heart attack. These investigations may include echocardiography, coronary angiography and nuclear scans.

Virtually every heart attack victim will be put on medication (e.g. beta-blockers and aspirin) to prevent another attack. These may need to be continued for life. It is also necessary to have regular checkups by your GP to ensure that you and your heart remain in peak condition.

If a particular artery can be found to be blocked, coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery may be performed to bypass this blockage.

The long-term complications of a heart attack include angina, an irregular heartbeat (which can normally be adequately controlled by medication), heart failure and an aneurysm.

Statistically, after a heart attack, 20% of patients will die within the first hour, a further 10% will die in hospital, 5% will die within three months of leaving hospital and another 3% in every year thereafter. The death rate has been significantly lowered in recent years by the use of medication in the long term after a heart attack.

The main things that you can do to prevent a heart attack are to keep your weight within reasonable limits, have your blood pressure checked and treated if necessary, avoid excess cholesterol in your diet, exercise regularly, and stop smoking. Smokers are at a far higher risk than others in the community because nicotine can cause spasm of the arteries in the heart.

Please Note:


  • The information provided on this page is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a registered physician or other healthcare professional.

  • The content of this page is intended only to provide a summary and general overview. Do not use this information to disregard medical advice, nor to delay seeking medical advice.

  • Be sure to consult with your doctor for a professional diagnosis and appropriate medical treatment.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Health-n-Fitness profile imageAUTHOR

      Health-n-Fitness 

      4 years ago

      That is correct. Smoking isn't the only cause.

    • profile image

      Hanif 

      6 years ago

      In some cases smokers do'nt have heart attack but Non smokers have heart attack

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)