What is a heart attack? People suffer from heart attacks when blood flow in their coronary arteries gets blocked by one or more blood clots. Medically, a heart attack is referred to as a myocardial infarction. Some signs of a heart attack resemble those of a minor health issue like indigestion, as a result of which often people delay visiting the doctor for a checkup, eventually making their condition more serious. Treatment options for a heart attack have increased significantly in the past few decades. However, to ensure that you are treated effectively with those potent treatment options, you must identify the symptoms of a heart attack promptly.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack
What happens during a heart attack? The common symptoms of a heart attack include the following:
- Squeezing pain accompanied by a feeling of pressure on the center of the chest; this pain generally lasts for several minutes.
- A pain spreading beyond the chest to body parts like the back, arm or shoulder; there are also several instances where heart attack patients have experienced pain in their jaw and teeth.
- Persistent upper abdominal pain.
- Excessive sweating.
- Breathing difficulties.
- Vomiting and nausea.
- Dizziness or light-headedness.
- Unexplained fatigue.
The symptoms of heart attack vary widely from one individual to the other. The intensity of these symptoms is also not same in every patient experiencing a heart attack. Moreover, some people can even get heart attacks without any symptom.
Often, people confused a heart attack with cardiac arrest, a condition that causes the heart to stop suddenly. A person might experience a cardiac arrest as a result of electrical disturbances resulting in disruption of the heart’s pumping action. Most the cases of cardiac arrest are caused by a heart attack; however, it is not the sole factor leading to a cardiac arrest.
Causes of a Heart Attack
For knowing what a heart attack is you must get familiar with the causes of the condition. Heart attacks occur as a result of blocking of one or more arteries responsible for supplying oxygenated blood to the heart. These arteries are medically termed as coronary arteries. These arteries tend to get narrow over time due to cholesterol buildups, which are collectively called plaques. When a person has plaques in his/her arteries, the condition is referred to as atherosclerosis. A heart attack occurs when one or more of these plaques get ruptured resulting in formation of blood clots on the ruptured region of the arteries. When atherosclerosis results in narrowing of the coronary arteries of a person, he or she is said to be suffering from coronary artery disease. Medical experts suggest that most cases of heart attacks have coronary artery disease as its underlying cause.