Myocardial Infarction: Learn to Identify the Early Symptoms

Myocardial Infarction, commonly known as “heart attack”, is the enemy number 1 of our heart and so we should learn to defends it.

The myocardial infarction, is the leading cause of death in Portugal, with numbers of concern around the 4000 deaths per year, according to the Directorate-General of Health. In recent years, Portugal has displayed increasing values of response to this problem, however, the numbers remain very high and therefore we should seek to keep us informed.

This problem occurs when one or more arteries of the heart become blocked by a blood clot causing the blood does not reach the heart and there is a necrosis of tissue, or tissue death. When this happens, the heart stops working due to lack of oxygen, soon ceases to exercise its function, and the rest of the body does not receive blood, so you do not receive the oxygen and nutrients that it should.

By this, even the stroke is considered a medical emergency where every minute counts because there is a risk of the heart stopping, and as we know, the heart is the most important organ of our body.


The myocardial infarction can manifest itself in a few ways, sometimes easily confounded. Among them:

  • Severe pain in the chest, with sensation of burning or tightness, that can also radiate to the jaw or left arm. This pain is similar to a burning sensation that does not resolve with movement or medication and banal, requiring the same medical intervention is urgent;

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  • Cold sweats;
  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Paleness;
  • Nausea, dizziness and vomiting;
  • Dizziness;
  • Mental confusion;
  • Can lead to episodes of fainting and loss of consciousness;
  • In women, in the elderly and in diabetics we can also see dyspnoea (shortness of breath), abdominal distress and episodes of excessive perspiration.


Then, knowing that a myocardial infarction is the formation of a blood clot that causes the interruption of blood in one of the arteries near the heart, we must begin by understand what are the risk factors that can cause this to happen.

There are risk factors that are considered non-controllable, which do not depend on our lifestyle, and the risk factors that we can control, that is, which depend solely on us.


  • Age: the elderly (over 65 years) are more susceptible, due to aging physiological of the heart and the accumulation of various risk factors over the years;
  • Gender: statistically, men have a higher risk of suffering from this problem;
  • Heredity: people with cardiovascular problems in close family members, have a higher likelihood of developing this disease.

However, despite these risk factors, in overcome and can’t be changed by us, there are others to which we should be attentive and that can be modified and controlled.


  • Tobacco: smokers are twice as likely to suffer from myocardial infarction than non-smokers. The smoke from cigarettes is a risk factor for very serious cardiovascular problems, even when it comes to secondhand smoke;
  • High blood pressure: the hypertension is the main cause of atherosclerosis that occurs when there is an accumulation of fat inside an artery, causing the volume of blood that passes through this, is lower and lower each time until it to pass. When this happens, occurs, then the myocardial infarction;
  • Cholesterol: the values are proportional, and the higher the cholesterol, the greater the risk of suffering a heart attack. Note that this risk increases exponentially when added to other risk factors such as high blood pressure, and/or tobacco;
  • Diabetes: diabetes increases seriously the risk of having a cardiovascular problem and therefore should always have the levels of glucose controlled;
  • Sedentary lifestyle: the practice of physical exercise is indispensable to the well-being of the heart and blood vessels, and also helps to control other risk factors;
  • Excess Weight: like all the others, increases the risk of suffering a myocardial infarction, a time that also increases the effort of the heart;
  • Stress: how we respond to stress is different from person to person, however we should avoid it or learn to control it. This causes the heart rate to increase, which in turn increases the blood pressure, and can still make the smokers smoke more, thereby increasing the risk of a heart attack.

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The treatment in a case of myocardial infarction is only done by a medical team, with must-have resource to the hospital. And it is important to note also, that the quicker the patient arrive at the hospital, the smaller will be the damage and is more easy this recovers.

When it comes to the hospital, the doctor confirms the diagnosis of myocardial with resource, mainly on an electrocardiogram, but also an analysis of the blood.

The next step is, then, to treat this problem trying to lower the long-term consequences and trying to eliminate the pain as fast as possible. The objective is to re-establish the normal flow of blood within the coronary arteries so as to preserve the heart and its function, and continuing this as well to pump blood to all the body. For this, one uses the administration of some drugs:

  • Nitroglycerinwhich is a vasodilator very powerful, used while waiting for a medical response to facilitate blood flow;
  • Aspirin, an anticoagulant administered to facilitate the blood flow, acting on the clots, breaking them and preventing the formation of new clots.

As the myocardial infarction is a serious problem, not always the administration of drugs is enough to resolve it. And, in these cases, it is necessary to resort to surgery. This, you can split an Angioplasty and a cardiac catheterization.

Angioplasty allows you to see what is the artery that is obstructed while the catheterization allows for the dilation of the artery injured, and it may sometimes be necessary to use a structure that maintains this expansion over time. Heart surgery, also known as Bypass, is also an option in many cases and allows you to make an alternative route to the artery injured by using an excerpt.

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Associated with all these procedures, surgical or medicated, is also essential to have a healthy life-style, thought every day in the forms of prevention and control of our cardiovascular system.


It is possible to reduce the risk of the occurrence of a myocardial infarction through these following steps:

  1. Do not smoke. If you smoke, stop smoking quickly;
  2. Measure the blood pressure regularly;
  3. Regularly monitor the levels of your cholesterol;
  4. Do physical exercise regularly;
  5. If you’re overweight, try to reduce it to the proper values;
  6. Avoid fats in your diet;
  7. Do not consume alcoholic beverages. The excess of alcohol increases blood pressure.