Know the basics
What is acute myocardial infarct?
Acute myocardial infarction is the medical name for a heart attack. A heart attack is a life-threatening condition that occurs when blood flow to the heart is abruptly cut off, causing tissue damage.
The heart requires its own constant supply of oxygen and nutrients, like any muscle in the body. Two large, branching coronary arteries deliver oxygenated blood to the heart muscle. If one of these arteries or branches becomes blocked suddenly, a portion of the heart is starved of oxygen, a condition called “cardiac ischemia.”
If cardiac ischemia lasts too long, the starved heart tissue dies. This is a heart attack, otherwise known as a myocardial infarction – literally, “death of heart muscle.”
Most heart attacks occur during several hours – so never wait to seek help if you think a heart attack is beginning. In some cases there are no symptoms at all, but most heart attacks produce some chest pain
How common is acute myocardial infarct?
Acute myocardial can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of acute myocardial infarct?
The common symptoms of acute myocardial infarct are:
- Pressure or tightness in the chest
- Pain in the chest, back, jaw, and other areas of the upper body that lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back
- Shortness of breath
- A cough
- A fast heart rate
It’s important to note that not all people who have heart attacks experience the same symptoms or the same severity of symptoms. Chest pain is the most commonly reported symptom among both women and men. However, women are more likely than men to have:
- Shortness of breath
- Jaw pain
- Upper back pain
In fact, some women who have had a heart attack report that their symptoms felt like the symptoms of the flu.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes acute myocardial infarct?
This is usually the result of a blockage in one or more of the coronary arteries. A blockage can develop due to a buildup of plaque, a substance mostly made of fat, cholesterol, and cellular waste products. This can cause a heart attack. Several factors may lead to a blockage in the coronary arteries.
- Bad cholesterol: Not all cholesterol is bad, but LDL cholesterol can stick to the walls of your arteries and produce plaque.
- Saturated fat: Saturated fats may also contribute to the buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries. Saturated fats are found mostly in meat and dairy products, including beef, butter, and cheese.
- Trans fat: Another type of fat that contributes to clogged arteries is trans fat, or hydrogenated fat. Trans fat is usually artificially produced and can be found in a variety of processed foods.
What increases my risk for acute myocardial infarct?
There are many risk factors for acute myocardial infarct, such as:
High blood pressure: You’re at greater risk for heart attack if you have high blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury) depending on your age.
High cholesterol levels: Having high levels of cholesterol in your blood puts you at risk for acute myocardial infarction. You may be able to lower your cholesterol by making changes to your diet or by taking certain medications called statins.
High triglyceride levels: High triglyceride levels also increase your risk for having a heart attack. Triglycerides are stored in your body and contribute to the buildup of plaque.
Diabetes and high blood sugar levels: Diabetes is a condition that causes blood sugar, or glucose, levels to rise. High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels and eventually lead to coronary artery disease.
Obesity: Your chances of having a heart attack are higher if you’re very overweight. Obesity is associated with various conditions that increase the risk of heart attack, including:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- High triglyceride levels
Smoking: Smoking tobacco products increases your risk for heart attack. It may also lead to other cardiovascular conditions and diseases.
Age: The risk of having a heart attack increases with age. Men are at a higher risk of a heart attack after age 45, and women are at a higher risk of a heart attack after age 55.
Family history: You’re more likely to have a heart attack if you have a family history of early heart disease. Your risk is especially high if you have male family members who developed heart disease before age 55 or if you have female family members who developed heart disease before age 65.
Other factors that can increase your risk for heart attack include:
- A lack of exercise
- The use of certain illegal drugs, including cocaine and amphetamines
- A history of preeclampsia, or high blood pressure during pregnancy
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is acute myocardial infarct diagnosed?
To determine whether you’ve had a heart attack, your doctor will listen to your heart to check for irregularities in your heartbeat. They may measure your blood pressure as well.
An electrocardiogram (EKG) may be done to measure your heart’s electrical activity. Blood tests can also be used to check for proteins that are associated with heart damage, such as troponin.
Other diagnostic tests include:
- A stress test to see how your heart responds to certain situations, such as exercise;
- An angiogram with coronary catheterization to look for areas of blockage in your arteries;
- An echocardiogram to help identify areas of your heart that aren’t working properly.
How is acute myocardial infarct treated?
A surgical procedure called angioplasty may be used to unblock the arteries that supply blood to the heart.
During an angioplasty, your surgeon will insert a long, thin tube called a catheter through your artery to reach the blockage. They will then inflate a small balloon attached to the catheter in order to reopen the artery, allowing blood flow to resume. Your surgeon may also place a small, mesh tube called a stent at the site of the blockage. The stent can prevent the artery from closing again.
Your doctor may also want to perform a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) in some cases. In this procedure, your surgeon will reroute your veins and arteries so the blood can flow around the blockage. A CABG is sometimes done immediately after a heart attack. In most cases, however, it’s performed several days after the incident so your heart has time to heal.
A number of different medications can also be used to treat a heart attack:
- Blood thinners, such as aspirin, are often used to break up blood clots and improve blood flow through narrowed arteries.
- Thrombolytics are often used to dissolve clots.
- Antiplatelet drugs, such as clopidogrel, can be used to prevent new clots from forming and existing clots from growing.
- Nitroglycerin can be used to widen your blood vessels.
- Beta-blockers lower your blood pressure and relax your heart muscle. This can help limit the severity of damage to your heart.
- ACE inhibitors can also be used to lower blood pressure and decrease stress on the heart.
- Pain relievers may be used to reduce any discomfort you may feel.
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage acute myocardial infarct?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with acute myocardial infarct:
Diet: Have a healthy diet which includes whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean protein. You should also reduce the amount of the following in your diet: sugar, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol. This is especially important for people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Exercise: Exercising several times a week will also improve your cardiovascular health. If you’ve had a heart attack recently, you should speak with your doctor before starting a new exercise plan.
Stop smoking: It’s also important to stop smoking if you smoke. Quitting smoking will significantly lower your risk of a heart attack and improve both your heart and lung health. You should also avoid being around secondhand smoke.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Acute Myocardial Infarction. http://www.healthline.com/health/acute-myocardial-infarction#Prevention8. Accessed 10 Feb, 2017.
Understanding Heart Attack: The Basics. http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/understanding-heart-attack-basics#1. Accessed 10 Feb, 2017.
Review Date: February 20, 2017 | Last Modified: February 20, 2017