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Heart attack (myocardial infarction) is sudden failure in the functioning of the heart due to the interruption in the oxygen-rich blood supply to any section of the heart. If a person experiences severe chest pain or any of the heart attack symptoms, he or she should immediately consult a doctor. Heart attack diagnosis and treatment are performed at the same time when a patient undergoes severe pain in the middle part of the chest. The risk factors and symptoms of cardiovascular diseases should not be ignored because if they remain untreated, it may lead to death of a person.
Heart Attack Diagnosis
First of all, doctors take the medical and physical history of the patient. Then they carry out certain tests and examinations for the diagnosis of coronary artery disease. These tests can be:
Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
This is a simple, quick and painless test that analyzes and records the electrical activity of the heart. It measures the heart’s electrical activity and its conduction in the cardiac muscles. Electrocardiogram helps to direct what exactly happens in the ER. This test makes a graph that indicates how speedily the heart is beating along with its rhythm (abnormal or steady). It also records the timing and strength of electrical signals, as they move from every single part of the heart.
An ECG can show signs of a current and previous coronary heart disease along with the signs of damage to the heart because of the coronary heart disease. If the heart has undergone huge damage due to an attack, it can be seen in the EKG record, in case of damage to small portions of the heart muscle; the ECG may look comparatively normal.
If the ECG report does not find out the heart attack (an electrocardiogram can be normal even if the heart attack has occurred). In such case, the second step would be a blood test to indentify the level of heart damage. During myocardial infarction, cardiac muscle cells die and discharge chemicals into the blood vessels. These chemicals are proteins such as CPK, troponin and cardiac enzymes myoglobin, which are measured in combination or alone to detect whether the heart muscle is damaged. The most common type of blood tests to detect an attack include serum myoglobin tests, CK–MB or CK tests and troponin test. Blood test is helpful to measure how much proteins are present in the bloodstream and the higher level of protein in the blood indicates a heart attack.
Unfortunately, the chemicals take time for accumulating in the blood vessels after the muscles of the heart gets damaged. Samples of blood need to be taken after certain time so that the outcome can be interpreted. These tests are usually repeated to keep the track of changes with time.
This test may be carried out to find out various facts including the clarity of lung areas, width of the aorta and heart shape. If the X-rays fail to find out whether a heart attack has occurred, further tests such as CT scans, echocardiography, heart catheterization and stress test are taken. Doctors evaluate the overall condition of the patient and then decide the preferable diagnosis option. Diagnosis technique of cardiac attack may vary for each patient.
In this test, special x rays and dye are used to evaluate the coronary arteries from inside. Coronary angiography is often carried out during a heart attack; this helps to find the clogs in the arteries. The cardiac catheterization technique is used to insert the dye into the arteries.
A catheter (a thin elastic tube) is inserted into the blood vessel in your upper thigh (groin), neck or arm. The coronary artery is ribbed with this tube and a dye is injected into the bloodstream. The flow of the dye through the arteries and the heart is analyzed by the doctor with the help of special x rays. If your doctor finds any clogging, they recommended a technique called angioplasty. This technique helps to remove the blockage and restore blood supply through the artery. In some cases, a stent (a small mesh tube) is fixed in the artery to avoid further clogging after angioplasty.
Heart Attack Treatment
Understand your symptoms of cardiac arrest to take immediate medical assistance. Early treatment can help to limit or prevent impairment to the heart muscles. Taking quick action when you experience the first symptoms of cardiac failure can save your life. In some cases, doctors start diagnosing and treating the patient even before they reach the hospital.
Some treatments are initiated right away if a cardiac failure is suspected, even prior to the confirmation of the heart attack. These treatment options may include:
Once the cardiac arrest is strongly suspected or confirmed, more effective treatment options are adopted to promptly reinstate the flow of blood towards the heart. The two prime treatment options to open the clogged coronary arteries are angioplasty and clot busting.
This is a non surgical technique that clears up the narrowed and blocked arteries. This technique can also be referred as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). During angioplasty, a thin elastic tube with a balloon attached to its end is ribbed through a blood vessel to the clogged or narrowed coronary artery. In some cases, the balloon is replaced with some other device.
Once the tube is placed, the balloon is blown up to constrict the plaque against the artery wall. This helps to restart the blood supply through the artery. During angioplasty, the doctor may place a stent in the artery. This helps to prevent clogging in the artery for several months or year after angioplasty.
Clot Busting Medicines
These medicines are called clot busters (or Thrombolytic medicines), which are meant to dissolve the clots of blood that are clogging the arteries. Clot busters work best if given within few hours of the initiation of cardiac failure signs.
Other Treatment Options for Cardiovascular Diseases
Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is a surgical process that is used to treat this medical emergency. During this process, a healthy vein or artery from the patient’s body is taken off to graft or connect it to the blocked artery. This grafted vein or artery bypasses the clogged area of the artery and provides a new path for blood to move towards the heart muscle.
ACE Inhibitors: They help to lower the strain on the heart as well as reduce the blood pressure. ACE inhibitors also reduce further debilitation of the heart muscle.
Beat Blockers: This medicine decreases the rate of workload on the heart. Beta blockers are also used to get relief from the discomfort due to chest pain and also forbids repeat cardiac attack. They can also be used for treating arrhythmias.
Anti-clotting Medicines: These medicines prevent the formation of unwanted blood clots and clumping of platelets. Clopidogrel and aspirin are the anti clotting medicines.
Anticoagulants: These are blood thinners which prevent the formation of blood clot in the arteries. Anticoagulants also restrict the existing clots from getting huge.
Doctors may sometimes give medicine to relieve anxiety and pain, lower the cholesterol level and treat arrhythmias. The treatment for heart attack is long lasting because after getting discharged from the hospital, you may have to continue with the medicines on a regular basis along with visiting the cardiac rehabilitation often. You may have to take the pneumococcal vaccine and flu shot every year.
Conducting heart attack diagnosis and treatment once you experience the first symptom can save your life and help you recover quickly.