What is a coronary infarction

Heart attack

A heart attack is still one of the in Germany most common causes of death. When the heart suddenly stops beating, every second counts. You can read about the causes, risk factors and therapies here.

Heart attack: what is it actually?

A heart attack, also called myocardial infarction, is a life threatening conditionwhich, if left untreated, leads to death. It's not just the elderly who have a heart attack. It can also affect younger people. Guilt is a sudden closure of the coronary arteriesthat supply blood to the heart muscle. In the worst case, this can even cause the heart to stop. In this case, rapid intervention is essential to prevent the heart muscle from dying.

A heart attack occurs always suddenly and completely unexpected on. Patients not only suffer from acute pain, but also from fear of death. As soon as a myocardial infarction is not treated in time, the heart muscle dies. However, the more heart muscle cells die, the weaker the heart muscle's pumping function. This can considerably limit the patient's resilience later on.

Causes and Risk Factors

Cause of a heart attack is a Occlusion of a coronary artery. The coronary arteries are numerous small blood vessels that surround the heart muscle and supply it with blood and oxygen. If such a blood vessel is blocked, the Blood supply to the heart muscle interrupted, he can no longer contract. The cause of the vascular conglomerations or closures are deposits in the vessels that develop over many years.

Basically, the Deposits mostly around fat metabolitesthat stick to the inside of the blood vessels. These plaques not only narrow blood vessels - they can also clog them completely. The plaques consist of:

  • Platelets
  • lime
  • Blood lipids
  • connective tissue

In the event of a heart attack, the Oxygen supply cut offso that a Part of the heart muscle dies. Depending on the position of the lock, a

  • Front wall infarction
  • Posterior or sidewall infarction
  • Septum infarction
  • Combined infarction

The heart can no longer supply the body with oxygen-rich blood, which is why it no longer fulfills its task as a pumping organ. The more tissue is destroyed, the stronger it is Heart failure. This is especially the case when larger vessels are affected.

The risk of a heart attack is particularly high in people with lipid metabolism disorders (high cholesterol), but they can other risk factors favor a heart attack. These include:

The fact is: In the western industrialized countries, myocardial infarction is one of the most common causes of death. Alone in Germany is possible every fourth death back to a sick heart.

Symptoms of a heart attack

Since a heart attack is a acute illness the symptoms are usually very pronounced. First and foremost, patients suffer from severe, persistent chest painthat can radiate into the shoulder and arm as well as into the upper abdomen. Most often a heart attack will be of other symptoms accompanied to those

  • an inner restlessness,
  • increased sweating (cold sweat),
  • Shortness of breath,
  • Paleness,
  • Vomiting or nausea as well
  • an increased urge to move


Myocardial infarction often occurs in the early hours of the morning. Incidentally suffer Men far more often A heart attack than women. However, it is predominantly women who die from myocardial infarction.

Women often have atypical symptoms

Women are more likely to die of heart attacks than men. This is mainly due to the fact that the Symptoms are not very clear are. Often women do not even notice the first signs. The most common symptoms include:

  • nausea
  • Vomit
  • Shoulder pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Shortness of breath

Atypical symptoms are also found in patients who suffer from diabetes mellitus, dementia or chronic kidney failure (kidney failure).

The doctor makes the diagnosis

Acting quickly is particularly important in the event of a heart attack. Therefore, victims or first responders should alert the ambulance immediatelyto prevent consequential damage. The doctor can make a clear diagnosis by examining the patient thoroughly. Often the symptoms already indicate a heart attack.

This is one of the most important investigations EKG (electrocardiogram)to determine the time of the infarction. In addition, the doctor measures the Blood pressure and the Pulse of the patient.

As soon as these examination methods do not provide clear evidence of a heart attack, the doctor orders one Blood test at. With this examination, the doctor determines the so-called Infarct markersthat indicate the death of myocardial cells. This includes the two substances Troponin and creatine kinase, which are significantly increased after a heart attack:

  • Troponin is a protein complex that is released after a heart attack.
  • Creatine kinase on the other hand, is an enzyme that is essential for the energy metabolism of the heart muscle.

Once the tests are clear, the doctor will do one Cardiac catheterization by. During the examination, he administered a contrast agent to show all the coronary vessels on a digital screen. In this way, the medical professional can precisely locate the occluded vessel. Additionally help one MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and a Ultrasound examinationto save the test result.

Treatment: every second counts!

The sooner a heart attack is diagnosed, the better the chances of recovery. The first hours after the heart attack are crucial, which is why family members and first aiders in an emergency first aid have to afford. This also includes the Chest compressions. These must be carried out by first aiders until the emergency doctor arrives.

In the hospital, the attending doctors will try to find out Remove the blockage of the coronary artery as quickly as possible. First, patients are given a central venous catheter (CVC) to keep the body with blood thinning drugs (Heparin, ASA).

The blood flow to the heart muscle is restored by inserting a so-called stent. This is a stent made of a metal mesh that is inserted into the narrowed or occluded blood vessel. The starting point is usually the groin. Once the doctor has reached the narrowed area, it is first pre-stretched with a balloon so that the stent can then be inserted, which keeps the vessel open over the long term.

Follow-up treatment after a heart attack

A hospital stay is usually followed by follow-up treatment (rehab) so that patients can find their way back to everyday life and work more easily after a heart attack. In a rehabilitation facility, patients learn to deal with their illness. A stay usually lasts three to four weeks.

One of the most important therapeutic measures is Exercise therapy. it includes

  • Cycling, hiking, walking and running training, target training,
  • light weight training, gymnastics
  • possibly swimming, aqua jogging.

The workouts are with Relaxation exercises specifically combined to improve the performance of the heart muscle. A stress free lifestyle and a Change in diet are also essential to prevent another heart attack.

Last changed on: 07.03.2019


Share this post now