When the “motor” breaks down: what is important to know about a heart attack

According to WHO estimates, 17.9 million people die from cardiovascular diseases every year - and 85% of deaths are caused by heart attacks and strokes. Together with

Maria Yuryevna Kirillova

, Ph.D. , a cardiologist from the Atlas clinic, we tried to figure out what a heart attack is, why it happens, how to prevent it and how to act if this trouble has already happened to you or to someone from your loved ones.

A heart attack occurs when the heart muscle stops receiving oxygen. Most often, the blood supply to the heart is disturbed if the blood vessel that feeds the heart blocks a blood clot - a blood clot. If blood flow is not restored

within 15 minutes

, the heart muscle begins to die. The consequences of a heart attack depend on how seriously damaged the heart. If a lot of muscle cells die, the heart will not be able to contract normally and pump blood.

  1. Heart attack - not the same as cardiac arrest . With a heart attack, the blood supply to the heart muscle is disturbed. Cardiac arrest occurs due to a malfunction in the electrical activity of the heart. However, both are deadly, and the injured person needs immediate medical attention.
  2. A person can have a heart attack of any gender and age .

    Although men have heart attacks somewhat more often than women, trends are gradually changing: the number of “male” heart attacks is gradually decreasing, and “female” is increasing. In addition, women aged 45-65 years more often than men die within a year after a heart attack.

  3. Women and men suffer a heart attack in different ways . Symptoms of a "male" heart attack may differ from the symptoms of a "female", so it is important to learn how to recognize signs of a heart attack in people of different sexes.
  4. Myocardial infarction may be "silent" .

    About 45% of heart attacks pass without severe chest pain, however, after a heart attack, a scar remains, which prevents the heart from contracting normally. As a result, people who have had a silent heart attack have an increased risk of getting a second, more severe heart attack soon.

  5. After a heart attack, depression often develops. According to some reports, every third person who has had a heart attack suffers from depression. If depression is ignored and untreated, physical recovery after a heart attack slows down.

When the “motor” breaks down: what is important to know about a heart attack

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The most common cause of heart attack - blockage of the heart artery thrombus. But blood clots do not appear in the vessels just like that. This is usually preceded by atherosclerosis, a condition in which plaques of cholesterol form on the walls of arteries. Over time, in these bands, calcium begins to be deposited in some people - this is how calcified atherosclerotic plaques form.

Two ways are possible further:

  1. Atherosclerotic plaque gradually grows . Because of this, the lumen of the blood vessel narrows, and the heart muscle receives less and less blood. As a result, during physical exertion, when the heart especially needs blood flow, angina pectoris occurs - severe chest pain.
  2. Atherosclerotic plaque is torn . Because of this, a blood clot forms, which blocks the artery supplying the heart with blood.

    This is myocardial infarction.

Since atherosclerosis develops during of some time, heart attacks most often occur in people older than

35-40 years old

. “Youthful” and “childhood” heart attacks are more rare, and they are caused by other reasons.

Blood can stop flowing to the heart if it happens:

  • spasm of the vessel - sometimes this happens in healthy people for no reason. But most often, certain substances provoke a spasm, for example nicotine;
  • spontaneous dissection of the artery - in 80% of cases, this rare disease affects adolescents and women under 50 who have never had atherosclerosis.

    Why it develops is not known;

  • trauma or inflammation of the artery - if, as a result of an accident, illness, or radiation therapy, the inner lining of the vessel becomes inflamed, a thrombus may form even in a young person.

In addition, a heart attack can be "family". The risk of developing a heart attack is increased if the diagnosis was made:

  • to a father or brother when they were under the age of 55;
  • to a mother or sister when they were under the age of 65.

When the “motor” breaks down: what is important to know about a heart attack

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Symptoms of a heart attack common to men and women of any age:

  • acute burning or pressing pain in the center of the chest , which gradually grows over several minutes.

    Regular painkillers do not help;

  • stitching, numbness or pinching in one or both hands, neck, jaw or stomach;
  • shortness of breath;
  • sudden nausea or vomiting;
  • an attack of dizziness;
  • cold sweat or fever;
  • an attack of severe fatigue;
  • sudden heaviness, weakness, or pain in one or both hands.

The more symptoms appear, the higher the likelihood that this is really a heart attack.

From films and books we know that with a heart attack, a person feels a sharp chest pain. However, women may not have this main symptom or the chest pain will be mild. Therefore, when it comes to women, it is important to pay special attention to


signs of a heart attack:

  • pain in the back, neck, jaw or throat;
  • dyspepsia - a sucking or burning pain in the upper abdomen;
  • heartburn, nausea or vomiting;
  • an attack of sudden fatigue;
  • shortness of breath, feeling of lack of air, dyspnea.

Usually people expect that the pain during a heart attack will be excruciating, and if the discomfort "does not reach" the real suffering, then do not rush to see a doctor. This is wrong - even a “silent” heart attack can be deadly.

You should consult a cardiologist if a person has ever simultaneously experienced:

  • discomfort in the center of the chest;
  • mild sore throat or in the stomach - like with indigestion;
  • fatigue and physical discomfort.

When the “motor” breaks down: what is important to know about a heart attack

Photo: shutterstock. com

Unfortunately, there are no ways to prevent “young” heart attacks: they are usually associated with congenital problems that the person is not aware of.

But there is good news: everyone can reduce the risk of an "adult" heart attack if they fight against the causes that provoke atherosclerosis.

To reduce the risk of a heart attack, it is enough to lead a healthy lifestyle:

  • quit smoking (in this article we talked about ways to quit smoking). Smoking provokes vascular inflammation, which increases the risk of blood clots;
  • be physically active. Any moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, is suitable. You need to do at least 2.

    5 hours a week;

  • monitor blood pressure and blood cholesterol . Older people, patients with type 2 diabetes, who are overweight, have a family history of heart attack, and those who have had one before, can eat a diet that is low in fat and high in fiber - there are more whole grain, vegetable, and fruit foods ;
  • give up alcohol . According to one of the latest studies, it is better not to drink alcohol at all. Or try to do this no more than once a week.

The heart muscle heals

in about

in eight weeks.

It is believed that if a person suffering from a heart attack is provided with competent help on time, he has a chance to fully recover. On the other hand, if a person has already suffered a heart attack once, there is a risk that this will happen again.

When the “motor” breaks down: what is important to know about a heart attack

Photo: shutterstock. com

  1. A heart attack can happen to every person at any age, but more often - after 35-40 years.
  2. Men and women suffer a heart attack in different ways.

    It is important to know the signs of "male" and "female" heart attack in order to see a doctor in time.

  3. A heart attack is not necessarily the same as excruciating chest pain. Sometimes a heart attack causes only quite tolerable discomfort, but this does not mean that you do not need to see a doctor.
  4. If you or another person has signs of a heart attack, urgently call an ambulance. While waiting for an ambulance, you can chew a tablet of aspirin (375 mg).

  5. If a person with a heart attack is helped on time, he has a chance to recover and return to normal life. For this, it is important to undergo rehabilitation and comply with all the doctor’s instructions.


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