Types of Heart Attacks

Ningthoujam Sandhyarani Apr 14, 2019
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Heart attacks are classified based on the position of the clogged artery, level of blockage, and extent of cell damage. Different types of heart attacks are explained here.
A heart attack is characterized by inadequate blood flow to the heart, which results in impaired functioning or permanent death of a section of heart muscles. In the United States, the toll of heart attack related deaths is higher than any other disease known. This explains the severity and statistics of heart attacks.
The outcomes of this heart disease depends upon the heart attack type, and how quickly a patient gets medical attention.

What are Heart Attacks?

The alternative name for heart attack is Myocardial Infarction (MI), derived from the words, 'myo' for muscle, 'cardiac' for heart and 'infarction' for death. Thus, the medical term itself suggests what happens in a patient with this cardiovascular disease.
There are different types of heart attacks, which share one thing in common, i.e., narrowing or blocking of the coronary arteries that deliver oxygen-rich blood to the heart (coronary artery disease). The prime cause is accumulation of fat and unwanted substances in the arterial walls, collectively known as plaque.
The plaque formed in arterial walls may undergo tearing or cracking in the outer surface. This in turn traps the blood cells, and increases the risk for complete blockage of blood vessels. Such a condition is called thrombosis.
Generally, heart attack types are categorized depending upon several factors, like location of blockage (anterior or posterior), degree of clogging (partial or complete), result in electrocardiogram and level of cell damage (small or large section). For your reference, information on how many types of heart attacks is given here.

Based on Blockage Location

Anterior Infarct

Over here, clogging is present in the left coronary artery, thus negatively affecting blood circulation to the lower ventricle (left heart chamber). Considered as the most fatal type of heart attack, death of cardiac muscles occurs in the front portion.

Posterior Infarct

Also known as inferior infarct, it is less severe in comparison to the anterior type. Clogging is located in one of the branches of right coronary artery. As the name goes, the cardiac muscles in the posterior side are affected.

Based on Extent of Blockage

Non-ST Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction

Abbreviated as NSTEMI, disruption of blood circulation in the heart occurs temporarily. The reason is partial clogging of the arteries, and this heart attack type is associated with minimal cell damage. Diagnosis is done with the help of blood chemical markers, but not with ECG test.

ST Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction

Known as STEMI, clogging of the affected coronary is present for an extended period. Due to lack of blood supply and oxygen starvation, a major portion of the cardiac muscle becomes dead. This is a severe type of heart attack, which can be diagnosed with electrocardiogram and blood chemical markers.

Based on Severity of Cell Damage

Non-transmural Myocardial Infarction

This type of heart attack is characterized by cell death in a small section of the cardiac muscle. It is less serious than the transmural heart attack.

Transmural Myocardial Infarction

A severe form of heart attack, necrosis of cardiac cells is identified in all the three muscular layers of the heart, namely, the endocardium (innermost), myocardium (middle layer) and epicardium (outermost).
In addition to the above, you may come across Q-wave and non-Q-wave heart attack types. These are classified with reference to the electrocardiogram results. The Q-wave type reveals blockage of coronary artery for a longer period, which is visible as deep Q waves in the ECG report.
On the other hand, non-Q-wave heart attack signifies partial blockage of coronary artery for a long period, or complete blockage for a brief period. There is no marked distinction in the ECG result.
For all heart attack types, immediate therapeutic attention is crucial for good prognosis. Unfortunately, many of the patients have already lost their lives on their way to the hospital.
Hence, any individual who manifests pain in chest area, irregular heartbeat, and other suspected heart attack symptoms should not delay in visiting a trusted doctor. The earlier diagnosis is done, the better will be the prognosis of this heart disease.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.