Did you know that a heart attack is seriously life threatening? A heart attack happens when your heart is starved of oxygen-rich blood – this causes damage to your heart muscle.
What are the signs of a heart attack?
Most heart attacks are caused by coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is when your coronary arteries (the arteries that supply your heart muscle with oxygen-rich blood) become narrowed by a gradual build-up of fatty material within their walls.
If a piece of this fatty material (atheroma) breaks off it may cause a blood clot (blockage) to form. If it blocks your coronary artery and cuts off the supply of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle, this is a heart attack.
You might also hear a heart attack called acute coronary syndrome, myocardial infarction (MI) or coronary thrombosis.
Other rarer causes of a heart attack include spontaneous coronary artery dissection(SCAD) where one or more of the coronary arteries tear.
A heart attack always causes some permanent damage to your heart muscle, but the sooner treatment is given, the more muscle it is possible to save.
If a heart attack damages a significant amount of your heart muscle, this can affect the pumping action of your heart. The term used to describe this is heart failure.
Also, some people continue to get angina after they have had treatment for their heart attack, because there is still narrowing of one or more of their coronary arteries.
A heart attack can be a frightening experience and it can take time to come to terms with what has happened. It’s natural to be worried about your recovery and future.
Many people make a full recovery and within a few months are able to return to their normal activities.
However some people may find that they are not able to do as much as they previously did. Attending a cardiac rehabilitation course will increase your chances of getting back to normal as quickly as possible.