This post is a part of 3 post Series on “Taking care of your heart”. You can read the other two parts here:
Part 1 – Risk Factors of Heart Attacks
SURVIVING A HEART ATTACK
Atherosclerosis and blood clots can block coronary blood vessels, preventing blood and oxygen flow, causing heart muscle to die. In a mild AMI the heart weakens and is often permanently damaged. In a severe AMI heart failure and death ensue.
The first 3-6 hours are critical
(1) Most lethal arrhythmias occur during the first few hours, and can be treated with immediate medical care.
(2) If the clots are dissolved and the artery opened within the first few hours, much of the dying heart muscle can be saved, and much permanent damage avoided. But beyond 6 hours little heart muscle can be saved.
Long term complicatons
If the heart is damaged, it goes through a period of “remodeling” for several months, in which the heart enlarges and changes shape.
This can eventually lead to a decreased pumping efficiency and gradual heart failure months or years later. The scar tissue can also cause electrical instability, with the risk of sudden failure and death.