An Acute Coronary Syndrome

Myocardial Infarction, also known as heart attack, coronary thrombosis, or coronary occlusion is the sudden blocking of one or more of the coronary arteries. If the blocked artery involves an extensive area, the person may die. If not, there will still be necrosis of heart tissue and scarring, but other vessels may be able to take over for the damaged areas.

If an MI is suspected, it is imperative that the patient seeks medical attention immediately. An electrocardiogram will be done along with several blood tests to assess the severity of the attack. The sedimentation rate of the red blood cells almost always is higher after a myocardial infarction.

The biggest threats after a heart attack are arrhythmias and cardiac standstill. An abnormal heart rate and rhythms in a patient after a heart attack often means the left ventricle is not pumping adequately. Congestive heart failure may be a threat at this time.

Symptoms of a heart attack may begin suddenly, with a sharp, severe pain in the chest which may radiate to the left arm and shoulder. Other symptoms may include restlessness and confusion; the skin may be cold and clammy, dyspnea, cyanosis, a drop in blood pressure, and a drop in body temperature. A rapid and irregular pulse may also be a sign of a recent MI.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, bedrest was the only thing that could be done for heart attacks. Then nitroglycerin was found to restore coronary circulation and relieve the pain. Digitalis was found effective for treating abnormal heart rhythms and diuretics were found effective to remove water, which reduced hypertension. With these and many other treatments, cardiology became one of the most dramatic fields in medical history (Kenneth, 674).

Another big concern of cardiac patients in the prevention of a second heart attack. There are several tests that can be performed to evaluate the condition of a patient. The doctor may wish for the patient to wear a heart monitor, also referred to as an ambulatory electrocardiograph or Holter monitor. This device makes a graphic record of the electric currents generated by the heart. The purpose of the ambulatory electrocardiograph is to document and describe the occurrences of the abnormal electrical behavior of the heart. This is done over a period of time while the patient goes about his normal daily activities. It will help to determine if the heart malfunctions occur random, spontaneous, while the patient is asleep, or while under stress.

The doctor may also wish to perform other tests such as cardiac catheterization or a coronary arteriography. A cardiac catheterization is a procedure where a doctor guides a thin plastic tube through an artery or vein in the arm or leg into the heart and coronary arteries in the heart. It is done to measure blood pressure and oxygen in the blood. It also provides information about the pumping ability of the heart muscle. During an arteriography, an opaque dye is injected into the bloodstream and then x-rays are taken to see if the arteries are damaged or occluded.

The blood pressure of all cardiac patients must be watched carefully. A sphygmomanometer is an instrument used to measure blood pressure. This test measures systolic pressure when the heart beats and diastolic pressure when the heart is at rest. Although blood pressure readings may vary, a typical reading for an adult would be around 130/80.

Many doctors focus on preventive medicine, which includes teaching the importance of diet, exercise, and ways to relieve stress. Stress can refer to physical as well as mental tension. There is a lot of scientific evidence that points to a link between the risk of heart disease and psychosocial and environmental factors such as job stress, social isolation, and certain personality traits.

Diet is an important factor in preventing heart attacks.

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