By Briana Davis, Clinical Trials of Texas, Inc.
SAN ANTONIO – Myocardial infarction, otherwise known as a heart attack, is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. According to the American Heart Association, more than one million Americans will suffer a heart attack this year.
A heart attack is a sudden, sometimes fatal event that occurs when a blood clot develops in one of the coronary arteries, interrupting the heart’s blood supply. If blood flow isn’t restored quickly enough, cells in the heart muscle begin to deteriorate and die, resulting in permanent damage.
By and large, the most common cause of a heart attack is coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD is characterized by a build-up of cholesterol-containing deposits (plaques) in the coronary arteries that limit blood flow to the heart. During a heart attack, one of these plaques ruptures, obstructing blood flow to the heart.
Other less common causes of a heart attack include a spasm of the coronary artery, a tear in the coronary artery (coronary artery dissection), and small blood clots or tumors that have travelled from other parts of the body (coronary embolism).
The symptoms of a heart attack vary, especially between men and women. Classic symptoms of a heart attack include pressure or fullness in the chest, prolonged chest pain that can radiate from the chest to the shoulders, arms, back or jaw, pain in the upper abdomen, shortness of breath, fainting, nausea, vomiting and sweating.
Additional symptoms often experienced by women include heartburn or upset stomach, clammy skin, dizziness, light-headedness and unexplained fatigue. Not everyone experiences the same symptoms, and some people have no symptoms at all. Asymptomatic heart attacks (known as “silent” heart attacks) are more common in diabetic individuals.
In most cases, heart attacks are diagnosed through a combination of blood tests and an electrocardiogram (ECG) in an emergency room setting. Additional tests such as a chest X-ray, echocardiogram or angiogram may be necessary to determine if the coronary arteries are blocked.
Early detection and treatment is crucial for the long-term health of any person experiencing a heart attack. With each passing moment, the heart begins to deteriorate. Treating a heart attack often involves a combination of medication and surgery to open up (coronary angioplasty and stenting) or bypass (coronary artery bypass surgery) the blocked coronary arteries.
Damage to the heart during a heart attack can lead to a myriad of serious health conditions such as abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure, heart rupture and valve problems. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, it’s essential that you act immediately to prevent further damage. Contact 911 for emergency medical attention.
Heart Attack Research Study
Clinical Trials of Texas, Inc. is currently conducting a research study for men and women who have suffered a heart attack within the past 1 to 3 years. If you would like to learn more about our research study, please call us at 210-949-0122 or visit us at SAresearch.com
. A stipend to cover the cost of time and travel is being offered to study participants.