Heart attacks occur when the arteries that carry blood to the heart muscles get blocked due to accumulation of plaque. This article provides information on causes of mild and massive heart attacks.
With one million people in US suffering from heart attacks every year, no one needs an introduction for this cardiovascular disease. It is one of the leading causes of death across the globe, especially in the western countries.
Reasons Behind a Heart Attack
Medically referred to as myocardial infarction, it is a medical complication associated with permanent death of cardiac muscles. For normal functioning of the human heart, oxygenated blood is continuously fed to the cardiac muscles with the help of arteries. When a person has a heart attack, the blood supply in the arteries is either reduced or stopped, which leads to medical complications.
In case of a mild attack, plaque deposits on the arterial walls (atherosclerosis) and narrows down the blood vessels, thereby causing a partial blockage. As a result, blood flow is not stopped completely, but it is disturbed in a sporadic manner. In majority of the reported massive attack cases, the prime cause is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). In CAD, arteries that supply blood (and oxygen) to the heart get clogged due to deposition of fatty substances (plaques) on the inner walls.
The plaques become hard on the outer side and develop fissures. Gradually, blood cells get accumulated in the cracks, forming thrombus or blood clots, which block the flow of blood. As a result, the normal blood flow to the heart is cut off totally, and a part of the cardiac muscles (myocardium) does not receive blood as it should. Over time, these muscles might die (infarction), thereby causing a massive heart attack. Another cause of an attack is unusual spasms in the coronary artery, which may disturb the blood supply to heart muscles.
Out of the total cases, approximately 25 percent are silent attacks. These are more serious, as the symptoms are vague and unclear and the affected person might not even seek medical attention on time. As these might occur without the manifestation of prominent signs, the risk of complications is high.
Early diagnosis and timely treatment are imperative to restore normal functioning of the heart muscles. While the treatment of a mild attack encompasses drug therapy and lifestyle changes, patients having a massive attack have very high mortality rate. Thus, treatment is focused on taking precautions and preventing massive attacks.
With reference to the World Health Organization’s study report published in 2002, approximately 49 percent of the heart attack patients have a medical history of hypertension. Other risk factors of this condition are:
- Old age (above 65 years)
- Males are more prone to this condition
- Excessive smoking
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar level (diabetes)
- High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia)
- High triglyceride levels
- Mental stress
- Family history of this condition
- Drug abuse
The root cause of an attack in both men and women is the buildup of plaque (cholesterol and other cells) on the inner side of the blood vessels, which leads to narrowing and/or clogging of the vessels. It is important to note that any form of heart disease can be accompanied with sudden cardiac arrest, leading to death of the patient. So, one should identify the triggering factors, and avoid them as far as possible.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.