Myocardial Infarction

Kyra Porter

What is a Myocardial Infarction?

A myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack, is when the blood flow to the heart is blocked. Without blood, the tissue begins to die due to lack of oxygen.

What causes it?

There are three main causes of heart attacks. One is when the coronary artery is being blocked by a blood clot. Another is when the coronary artery is narrowing as a result of loss of elasticity and thickening of the arterial wall (arteriosclerosis.) The third was is artherosclerosis, which is caused by plaque buildup in the arterial walls. All three of these are blocking the blood flow to the myocardium (heart muscle), which causes a heart attack.
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How is it treated?

During the first twelve hours, heart attacks can be treated with anticoagulants such as Heparin. The blood thinners help to unclot the place where the coronary artery is blocked. This is known as thrombolytic therapy. Other treatments for heart attack include bypass surgery and angioplasty.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The most common signs and symptoms of a myocardial infarction are fatigue, indigestion, severe chest pain, burning sensation in the back, arm pain, neck and jaw pain. light-headedness, and shortness of breath. Women are said to have "silent" heart attacks, because they often experience no chest pain.
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What is the prognosis?

The prognosis for a heart attack depends on each specific case. If it is caught early, someone can have a full recovery from a heart attack. However, if it goes undiagnosed and untreated, a heart attack can quickly become fatal. Due to the lack of oxygen, people who survive heart attacks might end up with some form of paralysis or lack of brain function.