Cardiology

New approach to reducing damage after a heart attack

Researchers in the Medical Sciences Division have established a key cause of micro blood vessels constricting during surgery to reopen a blocked artery, and identified a potential therapeutic target to block the mechanism ...

Cardiology

Young women who smoke face highest risk of major heart attack

Smoking increases both men's and women's risk of a major heart attack at all ages, but women smokers have a significantly higher increased risk compared to men, especially women under 50 years old, according to a study in ...

Cardiology

A better way to classify young women's heart attacks

Women age 55 and younger are less likely to exhibit the classic symptoms and underlying mechanisms of a heart attack commonly observed in men. This can leave women undiagnosed and at great risk.

Cardiology

You're having a heart attack. Why not ask for help?

A perceived inability to act on symptoms could signify a life-threatening situation, according to research published today in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology ...

Cardiology

Promoting cardiac self-healing after heart attack

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) researchers led by Oliver Söhnlein have shown that a protein which stimulates the resolution of inflammatory reactions enhances cardiac repair following heart attack in both mice and ...

Cardiology

Should STEMI patients recover in the ICU?

A trip to an intensive care unit can be more than twice as costly as a stay in a non-ICU hospital room, but a new study finds intensive care is still the right option for some vulnerable patients after a severe heart attack.

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Myocardial infarction (MI) or acute myocardial infarction (AMI), commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die. This is most commonly due to occlusion (blockage) of a coronary artery following the rupture of a vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque, which is an unstable collection of lipids (cholesterol and fatty acids) and white blood cells (especially macrophages) in the wall of an artery. The resulting ischemia (restriction in blood supply) and ensuing oxygen shortage, if left untreated for a sufficient period of time, can cause damage or death (infarction) of heart muscle tissue (myocardium).

Classical symptoms of acute myocardial infarction include sudden chest pain (typically radiating to the left arm or left side of the neck), shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, sweating, and anxiety (often described as a sense of impending doom). Women may experience fewer typical symptoms than men, most commonly shortness of breath, weakness, a feeling of indigestion, and fatigue. Approximately one-quarter of all myocardial infarctions are "silent", that is without chest pain or other symptoms.

Among the diagnostic tests available to detect heart muscle damage are an electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiography, cardiac MRI and various blood tests. The most often used blood markers are the creatine kinase-MB (CK-MB) fraction and the troponin levels. Immediate treatment for suspected acute myocardial infarction includes oxygen, aspirin, and sublingual nitroglycerin.

Most cases of STEMI (ST elevation MI) are treated with thrombolysis or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). NSTEMI (non-ST elevation MI) should be managed with medication, although PCI is often performed during hospital admission. In people who have multiple blockages and who are relatively stable, or in a few emergency cases, bypass surgery may be an option, especially in diabetics.

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for both men and women worldwide. Important risk factors are previous cardiovascular disease, older age, tobacco smoking, high blood levels of certain lipids (triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein) and low levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL), diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, chronic kidney disease, heart failure, excessive alcohol consumption, the abuse of certain drugs (such as cocaine and methamphetamine), and chronic high stress levels.

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