What Is Myocardial Infarction?
Myocardial infarction is the biological term for heart attacks. This is a very common condition affecting millions of people worldwide. Around 735,000 Americans have a heart attack each year, both fatal and nonfatal. Myocardial infarctions can occur at any age, but the risk increases after the age of 40 years. Worldwide statistics show that most heart attack related deaths occur after crossing 60 years of age.
How Do Heart Attacks Occur?
The heart is most vital organ of the body. It is made of smooth cardiac muscle and is situated in the chest cavity. The function of the heart is to pump blood throughout the body. The heart is an involuntary organ, which means it is not under our control. Its pumping is a phenomenon that takes place at all times as long as we are alive without our will.
However, the heart, like all other organs needs to be supplied with oxygen and nutrients as well. This is provided through a supply of blood by a pair of arteries known as coronary arteries. Now, if these arteries are blocked due to some reason, it deprives the oxygen supply to the heart. If this continues for a long time, it can lead to the death of a particular part of the heart tissue, which leads to a heart attack.
How Do You Know You Are Having a Heart Attack?
In most cases, heart attacks might not have any warning symptoms at all. However, in some cases, the patient might experience tightness or pain in the chest. This might occur several hours before the actual heart attack happens.
There might be a few other warning signals too, such as the following:-
- Shortness of breath
Often women get heart attacks with different warning signs than in men. Women might experience a pain in the back at the onset of a heart attack.
It is also likely that the symptoms of heart attacks might seem to be very close to the symptoms of heartburn. A lot of patients actually mistake a mild heart attack for heartburn. This keeps them from taking adequate precautions and the situation might increase to irrevocable levels.
Different Stages of Myocardial Infarction
It must be understood that any heart attack is not a single episode that just strikes out of the blue. There are several stages involved here, and the person must take care at the very first warning sign itself. Here we talk about these stages.
- The patient first experiences a stage known as heart failure. This is the stage when the arteries are not able to supply an adequate amount of blood to the heart.
- Abnormal heart rhythms might occur. This stage is known as arrhythmia.
- The next stage is a cardiac arrest. During this stage, the tissue that does not receive blood stops beating.
- A cardiogenic shock might happen if the previous stage is severe enough. During this stage, the heart stops entirely, and the rest of the body does not receive blood. The other organs stop as well.
- Death might occur if the body stays in cardiogenic shock for a few minutes.
The Leading Cause of Heart Attacks — Atherosclerosis
The most important reason for the onset of a cardiac arrest is the presence of calcified deposition in the inner walls of the heart arteries. This deposition might be due to the presence of excessive cholesterol in the diet of the individual. The cholesterol that does not get digested might remain in the arteries, thus narrowing their lumen. This directly reduces the amount of blood that flows into them. The heart has to pump harder to enable this blood to pass. Such a deposition of cholesterol in the inner lining of the arteries is known as atherosclerosis.
Apart from this reason, something known as a coronary artery spasm is also a prominent reason for heart attacks. When this happens, the heart undergoes a temporary constriction. However, the proportion of people having myocardial infarctions due to coronary spasms is quite low.
Other factors that can increase the chances of heart attacks are:-
- Eating fried foods excessively
- Tension and stress
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Hyper-excitement, such as during sexual activity
Heart attacks also have a genetic predisposition. If you have a family history of heart attacks, then you must be extra-cautious.
How to Lead a Healthy Lifestyle to Prevent Heart Attacks
There are several things you must incorporate in your lifestyle in order to have a healthier heart. The following are some of the points that you must take care of:-
- Do not lead a sedentary lifestyle. A healthy amount of physical activity each day is highly important. If nothing else, go for a walk half an hour a day. That keeps the circulation in the right order and enhances your heart health.
- Do not smoke. It puts pressure on all systems of your body.
- Do not consume alcohol excessively. Alcohol retards fat metabolism, due to which fat layers begin to deposit in various places of your body, including the inner linings of the coronary arteries.
- If you are overweight, do what it takes to bring your weight down. Obesity is one of the leading risk factors for heart attacks.
- Have a healthy diet. Avoid fried foods, junk foods, and even foods that are laden with spices and chemicals. Keep your food as natural as possible, and include a large amount of antioxidant rich foods in your diet. Have salads and fresh fruits and vegetables to aid in digestion.
Maintaining heart health is a regular lifetime activity. You must not wait for the first scare to start taking stock of your health. When it comes to an organ as vital as your heart, you need to begin taking care of it as early as possible.
You can even take control after one heart attack, but the sooner you begin, the better. Taking care of your health is your responsibility; do not consider your heart as a privilege.