Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack) – Warning Signs and Causes

Everything You Need To Know About Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)

What are the warning signs of a myocardial infarction?


Myocardial infarction, popularly called a heart attack, is the decreased flow of blood to the heart muscle that triggers a squeezing chest tightness and pain that radiate to the left arms and last for a couple of minutes. Other manifestations are:

  • Pressure in the upper chest that spread to the neck, jawline, back stomach, and one or both arms
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Heartburn called burning sensation in the central chest region
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nervousness (anxiety)
  • Fatigue (extremely tiredness)
  • Cold sweat.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Myocardial infarction belongs to the group of diseases called coronary artery disease (CAD), also known as ischaemic heart disease (IHD). Coronary heart disease is provoked by fatty plaque buildup in the walls of the coronary arteries. Plaque buildup in the vessel is called atherosclerosis.

Coronary arteries are the main vessels that provide the heart muscles with blood. The clogging of these vessels by plaque can cause the slow death of the cardiac muscles, leading to the slow progressive formation of coronary heart disease.

What are the types of coronary heart disease?

There are four types of coronary heart disease based on the progression of plaque buildup in the arteries:

  1. Stable angina:  is chest pain, chest tightness, or discomfort that occurs with activities or emotional stress that gets better with rest and nitroglycerin.
  2. Unstable angina: is chest tightness or pain that occurs at any time of the day, with or without rest, and does not get better with rest or nitroglycerin. 
  3. Myocardial infarction: also known as heart attack, is the next phase of coronary artery disease after a patient has experienced unstable angina. It occurs when the coronary artery is completely blocked with plaque. Heart attack episode lasts longer than unstable angina’s episode and if not properly managed can lead to the last phase in some patients.
  4. Cardiac arrest is sudden death as a result of a fast deprivation of oxygen to the heart muscles. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillators are emergency tools that can be utilized to revive the heart in cardiac arrest.

What Is The Main Cause Of Myocardial Infarction? 

Diagnosis Of Myocardial Infarction(MI) include:

  • Electrocardiogram(ECG): according to ECG findings, myocardial infarction is classified into ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) and non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI).
  • Cardiac markers(Troponin)
  • Echocardiogram(ECHO)
  • Coronary angiogram
  • Chest x-ray
  • Lipid profile (low-density lipoprotein(LDL), High-density lipoprotein (HDL), total cholesterol, and triglycerides).

Complications of Myocardial Infarction include:

  • Cardiogenic shock
  • Cardiac arrest (sudden loss of heart functions and absence of breathing)
  • Heart failure (is the heart’s inability to pump blood to meet the body’s metabolic need)
  • Cardiac arrhythmia

Treatment of Myocardial Infarction

The several different medications and method used to treat a heart attack include:

  • Nurse patient in a cardiac position (45°c)
  • Aspirin Stat
  • For chest pain and discomfort: Diamorphine 2.5 – 5mg is the drug of choice for emergency relief of pain in MI. Nitroglycerin and morphine can also be used to reduce pain.
  • Hypercholesterolemia: bile acid sequestrants, fibrates, and statins such as atorvastatin
  • To lower blood pressure: calcium channel blockers(Nifedipine), beta-blockers(propranolol), and ACE inhibitors (Captopril).
  • Surgery:  Coronary artery bypass and coronary angioplasty and stent placement.

For more information about myocardial infarction, you should talk to your physician.