Time is of utmost importance during acute heart attack

New Delhi [India]: According to statistics, Indians are prone to acute heart attacks at a young age due to genetic reasons.

The first one hour after the onset of heart attack or the “Golden hour” is of utmost significance as treatment provided during this window of opportunity can help in reducing complications and mortality. Not all chest pain is heart attack, but it is prudent to do an ECG in cases of chest pain to rule out a heart attack.

An acute heart attack (also called a myocardial infarction, or MI) is a medical emergency. In an MI, one of the coronary arteries supplying the heart with blood becomes blocked suddenly, partially or completely, and the heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die because of lack of oxygen.

This blockage of the artery has to be quickly removed to prevent any complications, such as heart failure or abnormal heart rhythms called arrhythmias, which may potentially be fatal.

Some symptoms of an acute heart attack include severe chest pain with sweating, palpitation and breathing difficulty; feeling of blackout, sinking sensation, and cold extremities; extreme lethargy particularly in diabetes patients; chest pain radiating to either or both arms, jaw, and the back region; and severe vomiting or nausea with abdominal discomfort. Failure to recognize these symptoms in time, as due to heart attack, may prove to be a costly mistake.

Symptoms differ between men and women. Difficulty in breathing, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain are more common in women.

Speaking about this, Dr Sanjeev Chaudhary, Director & Unit Head Cardiology – Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon, said, “Time is of utmost importance during an acute heart attack. Chest pain is often attributed to acidity and therefore ignored. However, such an assumption can prove fatal. When a patient of suspected heart attack comes to the hospital, stabilizing the patient is of foremost importance. It is important to diagnose what type of heart attack it is at the outset. STEMI or ST elevation myocardial infarction poses a greater risk to patients. STEMI causes full blockage of the coronary artery and therefore requires immediate intervention. Non-STEMI, on the other hand, leads to partial blockage.”

Adding further, Dr Chaudhary, said, “Primary angioplasty is the ideal mode of treatment for such patients. It is done as a life-saving emergency procedure in a patient with an on-going heart attack. However, heavy traffic in cities prevents the patient from reaching the hospital, which can perform angioplasty, on time. It is therefore important to administer medication to dissolve the clot (thrombolysis) as a first-aid and then do an angioplasty later. This can help to minimize damage to heart muscles.”

Buildup of cholesterol plaque in the walls of the artery is the major reason leading to an acute heart attack. When the plaque ruptures, it forms a clot in the artery, which blocks the blood flow.

The best way to prevent an acute heart attack is to reduce the risk factors associated with this condition such as high blood pressure, smoking, overweight and obesity, diabetes, high blood cholesterol levels, physical inactivity, stress.

Some lifestyle changes you can make to reduce the risk for heart attack include the following:

-Maintain a healthy weight

-Get regular physical activity, approximately 30 minutes a day

-Eat a balanced, healthy diet

-Quit smoking

-Find ways to manage stress such as yoga and meditation

-Manage pre-existing conditions, particularly those that can be fatal for the heart

-Get adequate sleep

-Undergo regular checkups and report any unusual symptoms to the doctor

When a patient’s condition cannot be managed by lifestyle changes only and the blockage is severe, implanting a stent to improve his health may be necessary.

With advancements in medical technology there are many latest generation drug-eluting stents available now which are used to prevent the arteries from getting blocked again by releasing an anti-proliferative drug. (ANI)