Fundamentals of a Heart Attack
Instructor Lynette Love
Heart attacks , we have all seen them played out on our favorite drama shows but these shows do not address the real severity of an actual heart attack despite the great acting skills portrayed . A heart attack can also be known as a myocardial infarction (MI), acute myocardial infarction (AMI), acute coronary syndrome, coronary thrombosis, or coronary occlusion, either way it is not good news. Over 1.2 million people in American have heart attacks with many of them resulting in death (Heart attack, 2011). A heart attack is a serious life threatening condition that needs to be treated quickly. Risk factors & Etiology
One of the main causes of a MI is Coronary Artery Disease. The buildup of cholesterol over time in the coronary arteries causes the lumen to become narrowed and hardened which promote the formation of plaques to develop (Heart attack, 2011). The formation of plaques throughout the body is termed atherosclerosis and when it specifically occurs to the heart it is classified as Coronary Artery disease. There are nine identifiable risk factors that have been known to contribute to a Coronary Artery Disease (Heart attack, 2011). The contributors include: * Hyperlipidemia- high fat diets or genetics
* Diabetes Mellitus- increases the risk of MI because it increases the rate of atherosclerotic progression (Heart attack, 2011) * Hypertension
* Tobacco use- The components of tobacco damage blood vessel walls and the body responses with atherosclerotic formation of platelets (Heart attack, 2011). * Male gender
* Family history
* Older age
Another less common cause of an MI is a Coronary Artery Spasm (Heart attack, 2011) . It is when there is severe tightening of a coronary artery. The spasm blocks blood flow throughout the heart. This can happen to arteries that are not affected by atherosclerosis (Heart attack, 2011). Although the specific causes of a coronary spasm are unclear there are four known risk factors: * Drugs- example (cocaine)
* Exposure to extreme cold
* Emotional stress
* Cigarette smoking
The human heart needs a constant supply of oxygen to work efficiently at distributing blood and nutrients to the rest of the body (Symptoms and Diagnosis of Heart Attack, 2013). When a plaque from the wall of a coronary artery is disrupted and bursts the body reacts with a platelet cascade. The platelets work to form a blood clot (thrombus) which blocks blood from flowing through the heart. When the coronary artery becomes completely occluded the heart becomes deprived of oxygen. Thus leading to death of the heart muscle cells (ischemia) and resulting in a heart attack (Symptoms, 2013). An occlusion can also occur when the platelet that originally broke off travels throughout the artery gets lodged into a narrow space and the platelets clot around it creating a thrombus and causing ischemia to the myocardium. (Symptoms, 2013).
Signs & Symptoms
Signs and symptoms that a patient experiences before a medical diagnosis of an MI will vary and may not experience the typical pre- MI signs. It has been found that during a study over 1/3 of people who had an acute myocardial infarction did not experience any chest pain (Heart Attack l Myocardial Infarction, n.d.). Chest pain usually is the main symptom that occurs prior/during a heart attack. It may radiate from the center of the chest or to the left side of the chest (Symptoms, 2013). MI patients have stated that they misinterpreted their pain for indigestion or heartburn. The character of the pain can be described as uncomfortable pressure or a squeezing of their chest (Symptoms, 2013).
There are other signs and symptoms that a patient could experience as well as chest pain. Uncomfortable pain in the upper body, arms, back, neck and jaw also can be indicative of an occurring MI (Symptoms,...
References: Cardiac Emergencies: Assessment, Angina, and MI Course - Nursing Continuing Education (CE) - Nurse CE - CEUFast.com. (n.d.). CEUFast.com - The Fastest, Easiest way to fulfill your Nursing Continuing Education Contact Hours online!. Retrieved April 3, 2013, from http://www.ceufast.com/courses/viewcourse.asp?id=143
Edmunds, L. (2012). Improving wellbeing with cardiac rehabilitation. Nursing Times, 108(40), 17-19.
Heart attack - MayoClinic.com. (2011,November 17). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved April 1, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/heart-attack/DS00094
Heart Attack l Myocardial Infarction - Cedars-Sinai. (n.d.). Cedars-Sinai â€“ A Non-Profit Hospital in Los Angeles. Retrieved April 4, 2013, from http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Health-Conditions/Heart-Attack-l-Myocardial-Infarction.aspx
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Heart Attack. (2013, March 22.). www.heart.org. Retrieved April 1, 2013, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/SymptomsDiagnosisofHeartAttack/Symptoms-and-Diagnosis-of-Heart-Attack_UCM_002041_Article.jsp
What Are the Benefits and Risks of Cardiac Rehabilitation? - NHLBI, NIH. (2012, February 22). NIH Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Retrieved April 1, 2013, from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/rehab/benefitsrisks.html
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