Heart attack is a serious health issue of modern times all over the world and especially in the affluent countries. Many sudden deaths are caused due to heart attack. Heart attack in medical parlance is called myocardial infarction. In massive heart attack, large portion of heart muscle die. This occurs due to lack of oxygen and blood supply to the heart muscles. Blockage in any or all of the major coronary arteries can cause massive heart attack. The three major coronary arteries are LAD (left anterior descending), circumflex and right coronary artery (RCA).
Difference between major heart attack and minor heart attack is relevant to the amount of damage to the heart muscles and the location of damage. It is also decided by the percentage of blockage of the coronary arteries. When large area of heart muscle is damaged, it can be termed as major heart attack. Often major heart attack can have catastrophic outcome. Almost 40 to 50 % of patients die before reaching the hospital in major heart attack. What is more alarming trend today is that the disease is striking more and more young people.
The electrical impulses become weak and irregular due to the death of major portion of heart muscles. These electrical impulses are responsible for heart beats. As a result there is electrical disturbance in the ventricles called ventricular fibrillation, or the lower chamber of the heart becomes non functional or loses its capacity to contract and relax. The oxygenated blood from the ventricle is not passed out in sufficient quantity to the heart and brain leading to further damage to brain and heart. Cardio pulmonary resuscitation is becomes necessary to restore normal heart beats.
Symptoms Of Massive Heart Attack
Some of the common symptoms of major heart attack are:
- Chest pain is a cardinal symptom of heart attack. Severe and excruciating chest pain which radiates to left arm, jaws, back and neck is one of the symptoms of massive heart attack.
- There is a feeling of tightness in the chest. Patient feels as if some heavy object is kept on his chest.
- Together with chest pain patient finds difficulty in breathing.
- Excessive sweating all over the body, his clothes become wet from perspiration.
- Person may vomit.
- The limbs are clod and clammy.
- Cyanosis (lips, nails and tongue turns blue for few minute)
- Face turns pale.
- Irregular pulse and heart beats with low blood pressure.
- Person faints.
Chances Of Surviving A Massive Heart Attack
The first few hours after heart attack are considered as very critical. Rapid medical attention is critical for massive heart attack because most of the cardiac arrest occur within few hours after the attack. If the person is in hospital ICCU the survival chances are greater as compared to person who is not under the medical attention and suffers from cardiac arrest.
- Survival rate also depends on the extent of damage to the cardiac tissue.
- Rapid and aggressive treatment for massive heart attack is very important. Opening of the blocked artery in first 6 hours with medications or with modern day angioplasty can prove to save the life of a person. This helps to preserve the rest of the heart muscle which has not damaged or is at a risk of dying.
- If the treatment is given in first 3 to 4 hours of lot of muscle damage can be avoided in massive heart attack. Most of the heart muscle damage 12 hours after the attack is irreversible and permanent.
- Mortality increases with age, a past history of myocardial infarction, shock, arrhythmia or embolism.
- After the first 48 hours, mortality decreases rapidly.
Treatment After Massive Heart Attack
Heart attack is a medical emergency and it requires quick medical intervention.
- Efforts to salvage the heart muscles must be made immediately on recognition of the attack.
- Patient should be shifted to the hospital as soon as possible.
- In the hospital the patient is put on heart monitor to see the heart beats.
- Oxygen is required so that the heart may not require working hard.
- Nitroglycerine and other pain killers are given to reduce chest pain.
- In case of arrhythmia which are known to cause death in first few hours, they are treated with medications or cardioversion.
- Anti coagulants are given to open the blockage.
- If facilities are available in a modern set up emergency angioplasty is performed to open the narrow blockage.