What is a Heart Attack
A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction (MI), is a medical condition that occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart muscle is blocked or significantly reduced. This typically happens due to a sudden blockage in one or more of the coronary arteries, which are responsible for supplying oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. The blockage is usually caused by a blood clot that forms at the site of a narrowed or damaged coronary artery.
When blood flow to a portion of the heart muscle is restricted, that part of the muscle can start to die due to lack of oxygen and nutrients. This can lead to permanent damage to the heart tissue if the blood flow is not restored quickly. Symptoms of a heart attack can vary, but they often include:
- Chest pain or discomfort: This is the most common symptom. The pain can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of the chest. It may also radiate to the arms, neck, jaw, back, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath: A person may feel breathless even with minimal physical activity or at rest.
- Cold sweats: Sweating, often accompanied by a feeling of lightheadedness or nausea, can occur during a heart attack.
- Nausea and vomiting: Some individuals may feel nauseous or vomit during a heart attack.
- Pain in other areas: Pain or discomfort might be felt in areas such as the jaw, neck, back, stomach, or arms. It’s important to note that heart attack symptoms can vary widely, and not everyone will experience all of these symptoms.
Prompt and appropriate medical intervention is crucial during a heart attack. If you or someone you’re with is experiencing symptoms that could be indicative of a heart attack, it’s important to seek medical help immediately by calling emergency services (such as 911 in the United States) to ensure rapid diagnosis and treatment. Treatment often involves restoring blood flow to the blocked artery through medications or procedures such as angioplasty and stent placement.