what causes a heart attack dr vivek baliga

What is a heart attack?

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Having a heart attack can be a life changing experience. In India, the incidence of heart attacks are rising, with hundreds of thousands suffering from a heart attack each day.

Most individuals who suffer from a heart attack recover from the condition very well, provided they receive treatment on time. Many go on to lead a normal and fruitful life. Despite suffering a heart attack, many people make the changes they should in life, becoming even more active and healthy as time progresses.

But what exactly is a heart attack? Let’s take a look at this in a little more detail.

What is a heart attack?

Around the heart are present coronary arteries that supply blood rich in oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle.

These coronary arteries can sometimes become thickened and narrowed due to atherosclerosis. As a result, during times of need (such as exercise or even household activities), there is insufficient blood reaching the heart muscle.

What is a Heart attack?
Healthy arteries Vs. Unhealthy arteries. Note the damage that is caused to the heart by the blocked blood vessel.

Clots can form within these narrowed arteries, blocking off the supply of blood to the heart muscle. When this happens, the heart muscle is starved of essential nutrients and oxygen due the blood supply being reduced. This phenomenon is called ‘ischemia‘.

Mild cases of ischemia is called angina. When the blockage is severe and the heart does not receive sufficient blood and nutrients, it is called a heart attack (called myocardial infarction).

Some patients can have a heart attack without having narrowing or blockage of the arteries. It can occur due to spasm of normal coronary arteries. It is not clear what exactly causes this spasm.

In rare cases, a heart attack can occur due to a tear in the wall of the coronary artery. This is called ‘dissection’ and requires immediate treatment.

Not every chest pain is a heart attack

Remember, while the main symptom of a heart attack is chest pain, not everyone who has chest pain is suffering from a heart attack.

Chest pain can be due to a number of causes, including rib problems, muscle pain, acidity and excess gas.

Get timely help

If you are suffering from chest pain that is associated with sweating and nausea, you may be suffering from a heart attack.

Stop what you are doing immediately and call an ambulance or your doctor for advice.

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