Heart Attack: Causes, Signs, Symptoms, Treatments & more (Full-guide)

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Heart Attack: Causes, Signs, Symptoms, Treatments & more

Heart Attack: Causes, Signs, Symptoms, Treatments & more

by Hibah Ahmad · December 23, 2020

Are you searching for information relating to heart attack?

This article will discuss everything you need to know about it.

Heart attacks occurs as a result of obstruction in supply of blood to your heart. The blockage of blood may be due to the collection of fat, cholesterol or other linked substances.

Let us explore heart attack in detail including its signs and symptoms, causes, treatment and much more.


Heart Attack Causes

Your heart needs a constant supply of blood and oxygen to work properly.

The coronary arteries perform the function of carrying blood to your heart so that there is no difficulty in heart function.

Sometimes the flow of blood is blocked either by the narrowing on the blood vessels or their blockage due to coronary artery diseases that can result in a heart attack.

Doctors identifying the cause of heart attack

Heart Attack Caused By Blockage

Fats, cholesterol and other inflammatory cells may accumulate in your arteries and further result in plaque formation.

Plaques usually have harder outside covering as compared to the soft portion inside it. So, if the outside of the plaques breaks then it may result in the formation of blood clots in the affected site by the help of platelets.

This blood clot can clog your arteries thus stopping the blood and oxygen vital to the heart. And if this blood clot is embolus, it can travel to brain and result in stroke.

In some cases, it can be life-threatening and lead to heart failure.

Moreover, high blood pressure can also cause this problem.

Blockage and clogging of artery

If this results in the death of muscular cells of heart, it can also lead to a more permanent damage.

You might face a partial or complete blockage of coronary artery which takes us to its two types,

  1. ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI)
  2. Non-ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (NSTEMI)

Further diagnosis and treatment highly depend on the type of blockage you had.

Heart Attack Caused By Spasm

It can also be caused due to occurrence of a spasm in your coronary artery.

This heart spasm is characterised by restriction of arteries and contraction which can turn into an on and off mechanism for your heart thus cutting off supply of blood to your heart.

It’s also referred as Ischemia.

These are often caused due to blood clots that result in the blockage of blood to your brain cells.

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Heart Attack Symptoms and Signs

What are the signs and symptoms of heart attack? It is important to understand that not people face similar symptoms and its severity after a heart attack.

Likewise, some people get no symptoms before it while on the other hand, in some people it suddenly results in a cardiac arrest.

But identifying the symptoms can help us take better measures. So, let us just dive into it.

chest pain as a sign

Common Symptoms

Common symptoms of heart attack include,

  • Chest pain. Sharp pain in the centre region of your chest and it may last up to several minutes or it may fade and appear again. It can also be described as an uncomfortable feeling of pressure, pain or fullness in your chest.
  • Discomfort spreading in surrounding body areas. The chest can spread into arms, neck and jaw region or it might also radiate to the back and shoulders.
  • Breathlessness. It’s occurrence doesn’t depend on the presence or absence of chest pain.
  • Heart burn, acid reflux or indigestion
  • Feeling nauseous
  • Palpitations and increased sweating

The symptoms even differ in severity from one person to another. Some face less pain during a heart attack while others find it unbearable, according to American Heart Association.

These symptoms can be different in men and women. Unlike men, women may also experience other than these common symptoms.

Learn about the heart symptoms in women.


Diagnosis of Heart Attack

By now you know about heart attack and its symptoms but in this section you’ll find out how it is diagnosed.

After a heart attack, you require instant treatment for your blocked arteries so call 998 right away.

It not only helps in improving the blood flow but also plays an important part in saving your heart from further damage.

Doctor with stethoscope

The best time for the its treatment is within 1 to 2 hours after the appearance of symptoms.

Waiting any longer will only cause more damage to yourself.

Medical Diagnosis

Medical diagnosis often involves a few questions about your history, symptoms, medical examination and perform a few tests in order to know the problem in detail.

The tests for heart attack diagnosis are,

1. EKG

An EKG is also referred to as Electrocardiogram (ECG), is a good test to find the extent of heart damage and the exact site where it is damaged. This uses the electrical activity of your heart and shows on the monitor.

2. Blood Tests

It is useful in checking the levels of enzymes in your blood. As these enzymes are in the cells of your heart, so the damage caused to the heart tissues can also lead to the discharge of these enzymes in your blood.

These blood tests are very helpful in identifying the size of attack and the time on its initiation.

A protein, troponin, is released due to the insufficiency of blood to the heart. So, looking the blood samples give us more details about troponin levels.

3. Echocardiography

This test can be used during or after a heart attack. It provides images of the heart for a more detailed diagnosis based on which parts of heart are not pumping properly.

It is also important in identifying the damages caused to your heart.

4. Cardiac Catheterisation

If the medicines are not proving effective in the initial hours of heart attack then you might need cardiac catheterisation.



Heart Attack Treatment and Recovery

A heart attack is serious situation and needs instant attention before it gets worse.

The treatment has drastically improved over time and many people survive heart attacks due to this reason.

However, delaying the treatment can lead to serious complications and even death in serious cases.

Doctors treating arteries

Initial Measures

Call the emergency helpline 998 as soon as you notice any of its symptoms in people around you and meanwhile talk to them and reassure them that they will get treatment soon.


If you feel like the person has stopped breathing then perform CPR.

  • You can do chest compressions manually by interlocking your fingers and putting the base of your hands on their chest.
  • Bring your shoulders over your hands and lock your elbows. Then press hard and fast to a depth of 2 inches.

Instant Treatment

As soon as the emergency team arrives, they will take over the situation.

Just try to provide them with the maximum information you have about the person or all the symptoms they were facing.


If you had a heart attack then the doctor may recommend you to go through a procedure which may be surgical or non surgical.

These surgeries are helpful in relieving pain and preventing an other heart.

Stent inside the vein

Common procedures include,

  • Angioplasty. It involves the opening of the clogged artery either by a balloon or by removing the accumulated plaque inside arteries.
  • Stent. Stent consists of a wire mesh that helps in keeping the artery open after surgery.
  • Heart bypass surgery. In this surgery, procedure help in making the alternate routes for the flow of blood.
  • Heart valve surgery. Your dysfunctional valves are replaced with the functional ones in this surgery.
  • Pacemaker. It is important in maintaining the appropriate rhythm of your heart.
  • Heart transplant. In case of permanent damage to the heart tissues, a heart surgery is found to be very useful.


The recovery process can take longer time and it depends on the severity of heart attack and other related factors.

It may include,

  • Cardiac rehabilitation involves the restoration of health and prevention from another heart attack.
  • Leaving sedentary lifestyle is possible with the help of a healthcare profession providing you suitable activity plan.
  • Psychotherapy, counselling and support groups are very helpful as many people get in to depression after a cardiac attack
  • Going back to work solely depends on the severity of your heart attack and the nature of your job.
  • Driving permission also varies from person to person.
  • Sex can be continued after 4 to 6 weeks but medications can result into erectile dysfunction but it also can be resolved through treatment.

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How to Prevent Heart Attack

Precaution is better than cure, right?

So, we should be focusing on the ways to prevent a heart attack rather than opting these habits after we face problem.

It’s risk can be reduced in various ways. So, let’s have a look at them in detail.

Healthy habits for prvention of heart diseases

Risk Factors

It is important to identify the risk factors in order to take preventive measure. These may include,

  • Age
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Extremely high levels of cholesterol or triglycerides in blood
  • Overweight
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Family history of cardiac diseases
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Stress and anxiety


It’s never too late to begin your prevention measures for a heart attack. Even if you already had one, it can still be useful for you.

The ways you can prevent it include,

  • Medications play an important role in reducing risk for cardiac diseases and in turn help in preventing your heart from any muscular damage. It is important to follow the doctor’s prescription and go for regular follow ups.
  • Lifestyle factors You already know these factors such as ability to maintain your weight with a more healthy diet plan, quit smoking, indulge yourself in proper exercises, deal with stresses and keep a check on conditions that can result in a heart attack. These conditions may include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol.

Prevention of heart attack is possible either if you never had it before or it can prevent you form another attack in future. So, regular checkups play an important role in identifying the reasons that may lead to it.

Moreover, in cases of emergency call 911 and the health care staff take the patient to emergency room for treatment.

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Now you know everything you needed to know about a heart attack. Don’t forget to leave feedback and suggestions.

Let me know in the comments section below that which part proved to be the most helpful for you.

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