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Myocardial Infarction: Causes and Treatment

Myocardial infarction (heart attack) is a health crisis in which the blood supply to the heart is abruptly and significantly interrupted, resulting in the heart muscle dying due to oxygen deprivation. Over one million people worldwide suffer from myocardial infarction annually. A heart attack will be the first symptom of coronary artery disease for many of them. 

Myocardial infarction can be serious enough to lead to death, or it might be what is called a "silent" heart attack. A silent heart attack is a myocardial infarction that is either asymptomatic or so mild that it isn't recognized as a heart attack. Although a silent heart attack might not seem as severe or scary as a major myocardial infarction, it is a dangerous medical event that can leave you vulnerable to future heart failure or cardiac arrest.

At CardioVascular Health Clinic, we offer comprehensive heart care services, helping patients improve and preserve their heart health.  

What Causes Myocardial Infarction?

A myocardial infarction is typically caused by coronary artery disease (CAD). Coronary artery disease is the predominant type of heart disease in the U.S. It is caused by an accumulation of arterial plaques (cholesterol deposits) that inhibit blood flow to the heart. When pieces of the plaque rupture or burst, a blood clot forms at the site. The clot then lodges in the narrowed artery, causing a partial or complete blockage.

Blood clots not only raise your risk of myocardial infarction, but they can also inhibit blood flow to the brain, leading to a stroke.  

While coronary artery disease is the prevalent cause of myocardial infarctions, they can also be caused by arterial spasms. A spasm occurs when an unblocked blood vessel constricts and prevents blood flow to the heart. Other causes of myocardial infarction include:

  • Spontaneous arterial tears 
  • COVID-19
  • Overuse of stimulant drugs (amphetamines, cocaine)
  • Lack of oxygen in the blood

What Are the Symptoms of Myocardial Infarction?

Common symptoms of myocardial infarction include:

  • Chest pain, tightening, or squeezing that lasts for several minutes, eases, then returns.
  • Dizziness/light-headedness
  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea/vomiting (largely a symptom experienced by women)

Please call 911 immediately if you are experiencing the above symptoms.

Who Is at Risk of Myocardial Infarction?

Myocardial infarction and heart disease risk factors include the following:

  • Smoking. Smoking and tobacco use significantly raise your risk of heart-related medical conditions, including myocardial infarction.
  • High blood pressure. High blood pressure creates an excessive force on the arteries, causing them to weaken and tear. These tears allow plaques to collect, causing the arteries to become narrower.
  • High cholesterol. High LDL cholesterol contributes to the development of arterial plaques.
  • Obesity. Because obesity contributes to high blood pressure and high cholesterol, it is a major predictor of heart health concerns.
  • Diabetes. High blood sugar raises blood viscosity and your risk of heart attack and stroke.

How is Myocardial Infarction Treated?

Myocardial infarction treatments vary depending on the severity of the event. While some patients might require surgical intervention, others might be given thrombolytic medications to dissolve the blood clot that caused the heart attack. 

Some myocardial infarction treatment options include:

Medications: Medications that are commonly administered post-heart attack include aspirin, ACE inhibitors, blood thinners, nitroglycerin, or beta blockers. These drugs dilate the blood vessels, reduce blood pressure, and lower stress on the heart muscle.

Surgery: Surgical intervention might be warranted to open a severely blocked artery. A common procedure is a coronary angioplasty and stenting, where the physician inserts a tube into the artery and inflates a balloon to widen the passage. A wire-mesh tube, called s stent, is then inserted to hold the artery open and allow blood flow.

Another surgical intervention is coronary artery bypass surgery (open-heart surgery). This surgical procedure uses a healthy blood vessel to redirect blood flow around the blocked artery.

Cardiac rehabilitation: Cardiac rehabilitation is a customized heart health program that begins during hospitalization and continues throughout the recovery process. It involves incorporating regular exercise, stress management, and healthy eating habits into the patient’s normal routine. A team of physical therapists, nutritionists, and counselors manage the program.

If you have concerns about your heart health, please contact our helpful representatives to schedule a screening today.

Patient Resources

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Testimonials

Professional staff working in a beautiful facility with great doctors who sincerely care about their patients. Without Dr. Schmidt's skill, I would have needed heart bypass surgery instead of a stent. Follow-up has been thorough. I can't recommend them highly enough.
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LeAnn Harner

Dr. Jim Melton and all the staff are fantastic. He is an excellent surgeon and his team is GREAT!!!! I just had surgery at the surgery center, I have only great things to say about my experience. Without him I really don't think I would be here to write this. If you’re looking for a good cardiovascular team, they are a 5 star for sure.

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Susie Brooks Harrison

Dr. Parsons and staff are amazing. He truly listened to me from the consult. Staff showed genuine care for my progress post procedure. I had my follow up appointment today so satisfied with results. Blake made me comfortable from the start. He is an activist for uterine fibroids treatment beyond the standard.

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Tamara Means

Professional and caring staff. Dr. Smith is very knowledgeable and shows genuine concern for your personal health. I enjoyed the background music in the procedure room, it really adds to the relaxing atmosphere.

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David Lambert

Dr. John Schrader is the most personable doctor we know. He stays on top of my dads health care and is genuinely concerned about his health. We never leave his office with questions. He answers them all. Even questions we don’t think of. Always professional but never cold or bad bedside manner. In our opinion he is THE BEST around.
Thank you Dr Schrader.

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Kathy J

I came to Dr. Warren by a self referral for mals when it took me 8yrs 50+ doctors and thousands of dollars spent on no answers. My first visit I was scared I was just going to be gaslighted just like the past however I was pleasantly shocked when Dr. Warren immediately believed me. She took the time to review many disk I had brought from past tests. She never once dismissed me and listened to ever word I had to say. She scheduled one last test to confirm the diagnosis then I was scheduled for surgery right away. Surgery was a success and I can’t thank her and her staff enough. Dr. Warren truly saved my life.

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Angie W

Dr. Garner literally saved my life 18 months ago and I've followed him to his new practice with Cardiovascular Health. He explains things so clearly, listens and is just a very nice person. His staff is great, too! I highly recommend!

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D Watts

Some of the nicest staff that I have ever dealt with!! They have been so incredibly awesome to my mom!! Would definitely recommend them to anyone!! Thank you so much for being so great with her!!

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Christy Garvie

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