Heart Attack – Myocardial Infarction – SG

Understanding Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)

Understanding Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack): Causes, Symptoms, and Paramedic Treatment

A Myocardial Infarction, commonly known as a heart attack, is a life-threatening cardiovascular emergency that occurs when a part of the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen-rich blood and begins to die. We will explore what a Myocardial Infarction is, the underlying pathology behind it, its causes, the signs and symptoms with varying levels of severity, and the critical role paramedics play in providing immediate treatment during this medical emergency.

What is Myocardial Infarction?

A Myocardial Infarction (MI) refers to the death of a portion of the heart muscle, known as the myocardium, due to an interrupted blood supply. This interruption is often caused by the sudden blockage of one or more coronary arteries, the blood vessels responsible for supplying oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle.

Pathology Behind Myocardial Infarction

The underlying pathology of a Myocardial Infarction is closely linked to coronary artery disease (CAD). Over time, plaque, composed of cholesterol, fat, and other substances, can build up within the coronary arteries, leading to atherosclerosis. This narrowing of the artery’s lumen restricts blood flow, making it susceptible to complete blockage due to a blood clot forming over the plaque. When a clot completely obstructs blood flow to a section of the heart, the affected myocardial tissue is starved of oxygen and begins to die, resulting in a heart attack.

Causes of Myocardial Infarction

The primary cause of a Myocardial Infarction is the development of coronary artery disease. Factors that contribute to the formation of plaque and increase the risk of a heart attack include:

  1. High blood pressure: Chronic hypertension can damage the walls of blood vessels, making them more susceptible to plaque buildup.
  2. High cholesterol levels: Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) contribute to the accumulation of plaque in the coronary arteries.
  3. Smoking: Cigarette smoking damages blood vessels and accelerates atherosclerosis, increasing the risk of heart attack.
  4. Diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes can damage blood vessels and lead to the development of atherosclerosis.

Signs and Symptoms of Myocardial Infarction

The signs and symptoms of a Myocardial Infarction can vary in intensity and presentation:

  1. Mild symptoms: Some individuals may experience mild discomfort, pressure, or squeezing sensation in the chest, often mistaken for indigestion.
  2. Moderate symptoms: More noticeable chest pain or discomfort that may radiate to the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  3. Severe symptoms: Intense chest pain or crushing pressure that may last for several minutes or come and go.
  4. Additional symptoms: Shortness of breath, cold sweats, nausea, lightheadedness, and anxiety may also be present during a heart attack.

Paramedic Treatment for Myocardial Infarction

Paramedics play a critical role in the immediate treatment of a Myocardial Infarction, aiming to minimize heart muscle damage and stabilize the patient’s condition. Their interventions typically include:

  1. Administering aspirin: Aspirin is given to reduce blood clot formation and improve blood flow.
  2. Oxygen administration: Supplemental oxygen helps improve oxygen saturation in the blood and ease breathing.
  3. Nitroglycerin: Nitroglycerin is used to dilate blood vessels, reducing strain on the heart and improving blood flow.
  4. Pain management: Paramedics monitor and manage the patient’s pain using appropriate medications.
  5. ECG monitoring: Continuous electrocardiogram monitoring helps assess the heart’s rhythm and detect any abnormalities.
  6. Rapid transport: Time is critical during a heart attack, and paramedics swiftly transport the patient to a cardiac care center for further evaluation and treatment, including possible interventions such as angioplasty or stent placement.

A Myocardial Infarction is a serious and life-threatening cardiovascular emergency caused by the blockage of coronary arteries. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack is crucial for timely intervention and improved patient outcomes. The prompt and skillful treatment provided by paramedics during a heart attack is instrumental in minimizing heart muscle damage and giving patients the best chance of survival and recovery. Understanding the risk factors, causes, and appropriate interventions during a Myocardial Infarction emphasizes the indispensable role paramedics play in saving lives and preserving cardiac health.