A heart attack is the injury or death of a part of the heart muscle. It is also called a ‘myocardial infarction’. There are 2 major ways in which a heart attack can occur:
- Blockages get worse: As the blockages get larger there is less blood flow to the heart muscle. At a certain point, the heart muscle can no longer get the blood and oxygen supply it needs. When the blood supply is cut off for more than 30 minutes, the heart muscle cells begin to die, and a heart attack occurs.
- The atherosclerotic plaque cracks: Most heart attacks are caused as a result of ‘cracking’ or ‘rupture’ of the plaque (blockage). The plaque becomes unstable and cracks, forming a blood clot which travels and completely blocks the flow of blood through the artery and causes a heart attack.
What is Angina?
Angina is a pain or discomfort that is usually felt in the chest, and spreads to other parts of the body, such as the neck, jaw, shoulders or arms. In some cases, discomfort is only felt in these areas and not in the chest at all.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack
- It often radiates to both arms or the throat and jaw, and is accompanied by sweating and/or nausea.
- These typical symptoms do not always occur. Some may just experience heartburn, or “stomach upset” not related to food intake and relieved.
- By antacids, breathlessness at rest, accompanied by a “run down” feeling.
- Some may only experience chest “pressure” and not “pain”, or pain only in the jaw, teeth or arms.
Immediate Steps to Take
● Chew a tablet of aspirin.
● Place a tablet of sorbitrate (nitroglycerin) under your tongue (if you have a prescription for it).
● Call the ambulance or go to a hospital with a ICU immediately. Never drive yourself.
● Do not wait for a doctor to pay you a visit at your home.