Heart Attack: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Heart Attack: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Almost everyone has had a heart attack (myocardial infarction). Be it as a person affected or as an acquaintance of someone affected by a heart attack. If our circulatory engine lacks oxygen, it stutters or stops altogether. That doesn’t happen all that rarely: more than 220,000 people suffer a heart attack in Germany every year, and around 50,000 cases are fatal.

Heart attack due to reduced oxygen supply

Like any other organ, the heart muscle needs oxygen to function. This is made available via the blood in the coronary arteries (coronary vessels). If these are constricted, the muscle can no longer pump sufficiently, leading to limited exercise capacity and heart pain ( angina pectoris ).

The heart attack is the maximum expression of the reduced oxygen supply: At one point, the blood supply is suddenly interrupted to such an extent that the muscle supplied by it (myocardium) is not only restricted in its work but also receives too little oxygen and nutrients itself and dies – a heart attack, often with sometimes life-threatening consequences.

If the person affected survives the heart attack, the infarction tissue scars and remains non-functional.


forms of heart attacks

Depending on which of the halves of the heart is affected by a heart attack, a distinction is made between left-hand heart attacks and right-hand heart attacksDepending on the area affected in a heart attack, there is still an anterior and posterior wall infarction. The right ventricle is rarely involved in an infarction and is usually affected together with the left ventricle, which is related to the course of the three main coronary arteries.

Suppose the necrosis (“dying off”) of all layers of tissue during a heart attack is referred to as a transmural infarction. In that case, if only the inner layer is damaged, it is called a layered infarction.

harbingers of a heart attack

In the past, prolonged attacks of angina pectoris (decrescendo angina) were seen as a harbinger of a heart attack. It is now known that heart muscle can be destroyed in the process. Therefore, this form is now also attributed to heart attacks.

In contrast to a classic infarction, however, the typical changes in the ECG do not appear here – the elevation of the ST segment is, therefore, missing. This form of infarction is thus also referred to as NSTEMI (non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction), while classic infarction is referred to as STEMI (ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction). The generic term for both forms is acute coronary syndrome.

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