What is a Massive Heart Attack?
Heart attack or Myocardial Infarction is regarded as a major health concern as it is often associated with a high death rate. Basically, what happens during a massive heart attack is that a large number of heart muscle tissues die from lack of oxygen due to restriction of blood supply to any part of the heart.
This is caused by blockage in coronary artery, particularly any of the three major coronary arteries (LAD, Circ, or RCA). LAD means Left Anterior Descending, Circ means Circumflex and RCA means Right Coronary Artery.
Issues such as what is a major heart attack or what is a minor heart attack are mainly decided on the basis of the location and amount of blockage in the artery. Massive heart attack is characterized by extensive heart muscle damage and can even prove to be fatal.
Death of heart muscle in turn causes electrical instability of the heart muscle tissue that gives rise to electrical disturbances in the lower chambers of the heart (ventricular fibrillation) that renders the heart ineffective in delivering oxygenated blood to the brain. Lack of oxygenated blood flow for more than five minutes can lead to permanent brain damage.
It is for this reason that the patient is given CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) or electric shock to make the heart pump and restore normal heartbeat. Besides, a combination of severe heart dysfunction and acute heart attack can also cause sudden death.
What Causes a Massive Heart Attack?
Atherosclerosis is the most important cause of massive coronary heart attack. Atherosclerosis is a coronary artery disease characterized by accumulation of plaque inside arteries that ultimately hardens and narrows the arteries thereby obstructing the flow of oxygenated blood the heart and other parts of the body.
It may also encourage the formation of blood clots in the arteries. Coronary Artery Spasm and Coronary Microvascular Disease can also cause heart attack. In addition, unstable Angina is considered as a warning sign of an impending heart attack. Massive heart attack increases the chances of heart failure.
Hereditary factors and increasing age also tend to increase the risk of heart diseases leading to masive hartatack. Factors like high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, stress, obesity, insufficient physical activity, high fat diet and other such lifestyle factors may also increase the risk of developing heart problems.
What Happens When You Have a Massive Heart Attack?
The most common and equally debilitating massive heart attack symptom is chest pain that tends to radiate to back, jaw, neck or either of the arms through nerves. The pain is experienced in the form of pressure, tightness, squeezing or burning sensation in the chest.
Damage done by a massive heart attack causes destruction of heart muscle tissues and affects the functioning of heart adversely. Heart cells start dying due to lack of oxygen. Restoring the oxygenated blood flow as soon as possible can help reduce the damage.
The symptom of chest pain is common in both the sexes but the other less common symptoms of massive heart attack are more likely to be experienced by females. On the other hand, in certain cases sudden death may be caused due to heart attack with no specific warning signs. Therefore, symptoms can vary from one individual to another.
Massive heart attacks are often confused with cardiac arrest and associated with sudden deaths but it is not necessarily true. Though heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest but the two conditions are not the same.
Recovering From a Massive Heart Attack
The extent of recovery depends on the amount of damage done. Massive heart attacks tend to cause permanent damage when treatment is not administered immediately.
The most popular and effective way is to give an adult asprin and take the patient to hospital as soon as possible. Aspirin helps to prevent the formation of clots in the coronary arteries. Clopidogrel or ticlopidine may also be given if the patient is allergic to aspirin.
In case the patient becomes unconscious call 911 and follow their directions to resuscitate him/her. Nitroglycerin helps to reduce pain. Besides, surgeries like angioplasty or intracoronary stenting are performed in the hospital to open a blocked artery. Early reopening of an obstructed coronary artery tends to reduce the amount of damage.
Doctors may prescribe captopril, lisinopril, ramipril, enalapril or other angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors after a heart attack to avoid heart failure. Cardiac rehabilitation programs are also beneficial.
Moreover, for recovering from a massive heart attack, one should also adopt healthy lifestyle changes by avoiding stress, having a low fat diet, engaging in adequate physical activity on a regular basis, avoiding cigarette smoking and keeping diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure and other similar conditions in control.