Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)
This is a severe and acute disease due to the total or even partial obstruction (stenosis) of a coronary artery, preventing blood and the oxygen that it delivers from reaching the heart muscle, causing the necrosis or death of the affected area. This myocardial cell death is what differentiates angina pectoris (chest pain) from a heart attack.
Atherosclerosis: Arteries are obstructed by plaque, a substance composed of calcium, fat, cholesterol, etc. This is by far the most common cause. Other less common causes would be:
- Congenital malformation of the coronary arteries
- Severe anaemia
They are similar to those of angina pectoris, but more prolonged and more intense, i.e. severe pain in the chest that irradiates to the back, the arms, in particular the left one, the jaws and the hands.
Other symptoms are anxiety, trouble breathing, paleness, sweating, dizziness, vomiting, fainting, etc.
- Oxygen: The first thing that people attending to provide care will do will be to supply oxygen to the patient.
- Beta-blockers: They counteract the action of adrenalin, especially on the heart, which will beat more slowly and the need for oxygen will be decreased.
- Calcium-channel blockers: By decreasing the calcium that reaches the arteries, the gradual narrowing of them is partly reduced.
- Thrombolytic agents: These drugs help to dissolve blood clots.