HomeCHD & heart attackHeart attack - definition, symptoms and co.

Heart attack - definition, symptoms and co.

A heart attack (med. myocardial infarction) occurs when one or more blood vessels leading to the heart (med. coronary arteries) are blocked. As a result, the heart muscle is not supplied with sufficient blood and the muscle tissue begins to die. In Germany, about 300,000 people suffer a heart attack every year. Learn here how to recognize the symptoms and harbingers of a heart attack. Let's go!


At a glance

In a myocardial infarction, the blood supply to the heart is interrupted by the occlusion of one or more coronary vessels. The heart muscle tissue is no longer supplied with enough blood and dies.

The most common first signs of a heart attack are pain or a feeling of pressure in the chest (angina pectoris). Pain radiating to the left arm, neck, jaw or abdomen, vomiting or shortness of breath are also frequent harbingers of a heart attack.

You can do a lot for your heart by taking medications regularly, monitoring vital signs such as blood pressure and pulse, eating a heart-healthy diet and exercising after a heart attack. Sometimes interventions such as stent implantation or bypass surgery are also necessary to support the heart.

Heart Attack Definition - What happens when you have a heart attack?

At Heart attack (med. myocardial infarction) it comes to the Interruption of blood flow in one or more blood vessels leading to the heart (med. coronary vessels). The heart muscle tissue is no longer supplied with enough blood and dies. Every year, about 300,000 people in Germany suffer a heart attack and over 170,000 people die as a result. This makes heart attacks one of the most common causes of death.

A Heart attack often stands with the coronary heart disease (CHD) related. The reason: Deposits in the coronary arteries (med. arteriosclerosis), which develops in coronary heart disease form in the blood vessels, these can become clogged. If blood no longer penetrates the blood vessels, a heart attack occurs. Also a Heart attack without CHD (med. MINOCA) is possible, but occurs in only 6-9 % of all cases.

Heart attack causes

In most cases, a heart attack is caused by coronary heart disease (CHD)., in which there is a narrowing of the coronary arteries. The coronary heart disease in turn, is often characterized by a Lifestyle triggered, that puts a strain on the heart. These include Risk factors like a little heart healthy diet (e.g. high sugar, salt and unsaturated fats), consequences of Lack of exercise, smoking and/or too much stress. Also genetic factors or pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes mellitus, can increase the risk of CHD. Do you want to learn more about coronary heart disease (CHD)? Then take a look at our article Coronary artery disease (CAD) - definition, symptoms and co. over.

A low proportion of heart attacks (med. myocardial infarctions) shows no narrowing of the coronary arteries due to CHD on. In this myocardial infarction without CHD (med. MINOCA) must be other causes, such as the tearing of small changes in the blood vessels (med. plaques) or spasms in the vessels be clarified.

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Heart attack symptoms

A Heart attack is a sudden onset event, that for many people associated with many questions and uncertainties is. How long in advance does a heart attack announce itself? How long do the symptoms last before the heart attack? How do you feel just before a heart attack?

Basically set Complaints often very sudden one, can, however, also become noticeable insidiously. The most common first heart attack signs are pain or a Feeling of pressure in the chest (med. angina pectoris).

Other common heart attack symptoms include:

  • radiating pain to the left arm, neck, jaw or abdomen
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Sweats
  • Abdominal pain or back pain
  • Cardiac arrhythmia (med. arrhythmia)

Now you may ask: But what happens, when you don't notice a heart attack? In fact there may be few to no symptoms. This is also called "Silent infarction" and occurs more frequently in women, in persons over 75 years of age and in persons with certain pre-existing conditions (e.g. diabetes mellitus) and risk factors.

A Heart attack in women often occurs with different complaints than in men. Read more about typical heart attack precursors in women in our article How to recognize heart problems in women? CHD and heart attack in women.

What should you do if you have a heart attack?

As a general rule, call 911 immediately if you acutely suspect a heart attack.

But what do you do in the event of a heart attack? A Heart attacks are life-threatening. That is why, if you suspect an emergency, you should act immediately. About Knowing the signs and symptoms, can help you or your family / loved ones, to detect a heart attack. 

Acute first aid for heart attack:

  1. The first thing to do is call 112.

  2. The affected person should lie comfortably on their back with their upper body slightly elevated.

  3. Open constricting clothing and open a window.

  4. If the affected person already has emergency medication (e.g. nitro spray), this can be taken.

Preparedness for emergencies:

  • If there is an increased risk of a heart attack, the affected person should always have emergency medication (e.g. nitrospray) to hand.
  • Be sure to regularly refresh your knowledge of first aid procedures and that those close to you are aware of them. 
  • Know the precursors heart attack and pay attention to whether they occur in yourself or others (see also the section "Heart Attack Symptoms").

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Heart attack treatment

As a general rule, call 911 immediately if you acutely suspect a heart attack. 

Was diagnosed with a heart attack, Depending on the type of myocardial infarction (e.g., in which half of the heart), the therapy look different. Among other things, your doctor will Determine which heart attack treatment is appropriate for you through ECG findings.

In addition to Medication after heart attack (e.g., antihypertensives), a Rehab or Lifestyle adjustments - like a heart healthy diet and regular Sport after heart attack - important pillars in the therapy represent. In some patients, interventions, e.g. a Stent implantation or in severe cases a Bypass surgery, necessary. This is how constricted coronary vessels are bridged or dilated.

How does life go on after a heart attack?

For many patients, the most important question after a heart attack is: "Can the heart recover after a heart attack?" In the majority of cases, this question can be answered with "Yes" be answered. But it also always depends, how quickly the heart attack was detected, how much tissue died, and whether there were any pre-existing conditions.

Generally speaking: It is particularly important to prevent a new heart attack. You can Actively influence risk factors, by selecting your Blood pressure and your blood values, such as LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol or the long-term glucose value HbA1c always have in view. Besides, it helps, Regular sport after myocardial infarction and with coronary heart disease into your everyday life and to heart healthy diet after heart attack. Also it applies, Reduce stress and adopt a healthy approach to stimulants. such as alcohol and cigarettes.

That sounds like quite a lot?

Understandable! The Life after heart attack can feel quite upside down. 

Apps, such as the Vantis Heart App, tailored specifically for CHD, can here a be great support. The Vantis Heart App helps you and your doctor understand the Overview of your health (incl. Medication, Blood pressure, occurring Symptoms and Complaints) and to adapt your lifestyle in small steps. 

If in doubt, especially if you are a heart patient or at increased risk of heart attack or other heart disease, always consult your physician. If you suspect a heart attack, contact the emergency number 112 immediately.

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