Heart attack Symptoms and Immediate complications
A heart attack happens when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a section of heart muscle suddenly becomes blocked and the heart can’t get oxygen. If blood flow isn’t restored quickly, the section of heart muscle begins to die.
During a heart attack, one of these plaques can rupture and spill cholesterol and other substances into the bloodstream. A blood clot forms at the site of the rupture. If large enough, the clot can block the flow of blood through the coronary artery, starving the heart muscle of oxygen and nutrients (ischemia).
Another cause of a heart attack is a spasm of a coronary artery that shuts down blood flow to part of the heart muscle. Using tobacco and illicit drugs, such as cocaine, can cause a life-threatening spasm.
Common heart attack signs and symptoms include:
- Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back
- Nausea, indigestion
- Heartburn or abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat
- Light headedness
- Sudden dizziness
Arrhythmias: the heart beats irregularly, either too fast or too slowly.
Cardiogenic shock: a person's blood pressure drops suddenly and the heart cannot supply enough blood for the body to work adequately.
Hypoxemia: levels of oxygen in the blood become too low.
DVT or deep vein thrombosis: the deep veins of the legs and pelvis develop blood clots that either block or interrupt the flow of blood in the vein.
Myocardial rupture: the heart attack damages the wall of the heart, meaning an increased risk of a heart wall rupture.
Ventricular aneurysm: a heart chamber, known as a ventricle, forms a bulge.
Complications that can occur later
Aneurysm: scar tissue builds up on the damaged heart wall, leading to blood clots, low blood pressure, and abnormal heart rhythms.
Angina: not enough oxygen reaches the heart, causing chest pain.
Congestive heart failure: the heart can only beat very weakly, leaving a person feeling exhausted and breathless.
Pericarditis: the lining of the heart becomes inflamed, causing serious chest pain.
It is important that a doctor monitors a person for several months after they have had a heart attack to check for any of these complications that may occur.
Not all people who have heart attacks have the same symptoms or have the same severity of symptoms. Some people have mild pain; others have more severe pain. Some people have no symptoms; for others, the first sign may be sudden cardiac arrest. However, the more signs and symptoms you have, the greater the likelihood you're having a heart attack.
Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine and Therapy,