The most common cause of a myocardial infarction is atherosclerosis, a condition in which fatty deposits, or plaques, build up in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Over time, these plaques can rupture and cause a blood clot to form, which can completely block the artery and prevent blood flow to the heart muscle.
Other factors that can increase the risk of a myocardial infarction include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and a family history of heart disease.
The symptoms of a myocardial infarction can vary from person to person, but may include chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, cold sweat, lightheadedness or dizziness, and pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
Immediate medical attention is essential for anyone experiencing symptoms of a myocardial infarction. Treatment may include medications to help dissolve the blood clot and restore blood flow to the heart, such as thrombolytics or antiplatelet agents, as well as medications to relieve pain and reduce the workload on the heart. In some cases, emergency procedures such as angioplasty or coronary artery bypass surgery may be necessary to restore blood flow and prevent further damage to the heart muscle. After a myocardial infarction, lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and managing any underlying health conditions are important for reducing the risk of future heart attacks.
The treatment for a myocardial infarction depends on the severity of the condition and the extent of damage to the heart muscle. Immediate medical attention is essential, and treatment may include the following:
Medications: Several medications may be prescribed to help manage symptoms and prevent further damage to the heart. These may include aspirin, nitroglycerin, beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, and statins.
Thrombolytic therapy: Thrombolytic therapy involves the use of medications to dissolve the blood clot that is blocking the artery and preventing blood flow to the heart muscle.
Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI): PCI is a procedure in which a catheter is inserted through an artery in the groin or arm and guided to the blocked artery in the heart. Once the catheter is in place, a balloon at the end of the catheter is inflated to open the artery and a stent is placed to keep it open.
Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG): CABG is a surgical procedure in which a healthy blood vessel from another part of the body is used to create a new route for blood flow around the blocked or narrowed artery.