Myocardial Infarction:
Myocardial Infarction (MI or Heart Attack):

An Heart Attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of your heart is blocked for a long enough time; that part of the heart muscle is then damaged or dies; this an MI; the development of heart failure after an MI can be divided in three phases:

In the very Early Phase Cardiomyocyte Necrosis and Apoptosis occur; as in the healing process of cutaneous wounds inflammatory cells infiltrate the heart; in this phase the extracellular matrix has already changed; as early as 40 minutes after an MI collagen degradation can be observed.

In the following phase, the Healing Phase, the infarct tissue is stabilised to avoid left ventricular rupture and to reach mechanical stability; inflammatory cells and proteases clear the tissue from necrotic cells; myofibroblasts start to build a new collagen network.

After weeks, the Late Phase, a stable scar has been built to save the integrity of the heart.

Causes of Heart Attacks:

Most Heart Attacks are caused by a blood clot that blocks one of the coronary arteries, which bring blood and oxygen to the heart; if the blood flow is blocked, the heart is starved of oxygen and heart cells die.

A hard substance called plaque can build up in the walls of your coronary arteries; this plaque is made up of cholesterol and other cells; the plaque can develop cracks or tears and blood platelets stick to these tears and form a blood clot; an Heart Attack can occur if this blood clot completely blocks the oxygen rich blood from flowing to the heart and is the most common cause of Heart Attacks.

Unfortunately, the cause of Heart Attacks is not always known and Heart Attacks may occur when you are resting or asleep, after a sudden increase in physical activity, when you are active outside in cold weather or after sudden, severe emotional or physical stress, including an illness.

An Heart Attack is a medical emergency; therefore, if you have, or notice, symptoms of an Heart Attack, call your local emergency number immediately; chest pain is the most common symptom of an Heart Attack; you may feel the pain in only one part of your body, or it may move from your chest to your arms, shoulder, neck, teeth, jaw, belly area or back.

The pain can be severe or mild; it can feel like a tight band around the chest, bad indigestion, something heavy sitting on your chest, a squeezing sensation or heavy pressure; the pain usually lasts for longer than 20 minutes and the symptoms may also go away and come back.

Other symptoms of an Heart Attack may include Anxiety, Coughing, Fainting, Light-Headedness, Dizziness, Nausea or Vomiting, Palpitations (feeling like your heart is beating too fast or irregularly), Shortness of Breath and Sweating, which may be very heavy.

Some people like the elderly, people with diabetes and women may have little or no chest pain; or, they may have unusual symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue or weakness; a 'Silent Heart Attack' is an Heart Attack with no symptoms.

DO NOT try to drive yourself to the hospital and DO NOT DELAY; you are at greatest risk of sudden death in the early hours of an Heart Attack.

Medical Tests:

A medical professional can perform a physical examination and listen to your chest using a stethoscope; they would listen for abnormal sounds in your lungs, called crackles, an heart murmur, or other abnormal sounds; they can check for a rapid pulse or a high or low blood pressure; a troponin blood test can show if you have heart tissue damage; this test can confirm if you are having an Heart Attack.

You may also have tests such as an electrocardiogram (ECG); this test uses a special dye and x-rays to see how the blood flows through your heart; it can help your doctor decide which treatments you need next; other tests to look at your heart that may be done while you are in the hospital.

More than one Heart Attack can cause Cardiogenic Shock; this is a state in which the heart has been damaged so much that it cannot supply enough blood to the organs of the body; this condition is a medical emergency because Heart Attacks are more likely.

Living A Healthy Lifestyle:

In order to help prevent an Heart Attack you need to keep your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol under control, which means no smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation (one drink a day for women, and no more than two drinks a day for men), getting enough exercise, around 30 minutes a day, for 4 or 5 days a week; though you should discuss any new exercise regime with your doctor first before starting it.

You also need to be eating an heart healthy diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and which is low in animal fats; generally in a good varied diet nothing is off limits and it is fine to have a treat now and again, just DO NOT over indulge; though, you should discuss any new diet with your doctor first before starting it.

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