The aftereffects of a heart attack can vary, depending on factors such as the extent of damage. These effects may involve the failure of the heart to pump enough blood, disturbances in heart rhythm, or a rupture in the heart.
The heart muscle needs oxygen to live. A heart attack happens when a blockage restricts or stops the flow of blood that carries oxygen in a heart artery. This
In the United States, more than
This article examines the aftereffects of a heart attack. It also discusses heart attack treatment, recovery, outlook, and prevention.
The damage that occurs in the heart during a heart attack
- heart failure
- cardiogenic shock
- heart rupture
Other possible aftereffects include blood clots and pericarditis, which is swelling of the sac-like tissue surrounding the heart.
An arrhythmia may manifest as a fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat. When this happens, the heart pumps
If the arrhythmia is mild, it may produce symptoms such as chest pain or palpitations and the sensation of the heart fluttering or pounding.
However, an arrhythmia can be life threatening. A type that is a common cause of sudden death after a heart attack is ventricular tachyarrhythmia. This happens when the lower chambers of the heart — the ventricles — beat too fast, which results in the body not receiving enough oxygenated blood.
Heart failure is the inability of the heart to pump enough blood to the body. It usually occurs on the left side of the heart. When this happens, the tissues do not get enough oxygen, which
In cardiogenic shock, or cardiac shock, the heart suddenly cannot pump enough blood to the brain and other essential organs. It is a life threatening emergency that
According to a
A heart rupture is the breaking open of heart tissue. It
In an older 2002 review, researchers explored the cause of sudden death after a heart attack in 153 people. They found that heart rupture was present in
People with an impending heart rupture after a heart attack frequently complain of chest pain, although they have nonspecific EKG changes. Because the symptoms may be nonspecific or overlap with symptoms of other diagnoses, doctors may miss this diagnosis. Survival depends on quick recognition and immediate treatment.
Emergency treatment for a heart attack
- aspirin to prevent more blood clots from forming
- nitroglycerin, which widens blood vessels, improves blood flow through heart arteries, and helps relieve chest pain
- thrombolytic drugs, or clot busters, such as streptokinase (Streptase), which dissolve blood clots that are blocking heart arteries
If blood oxygen levels are low, oxygen therapy is a part of the treatment. It delivers oxygen through a tube in the nose, a facial mask, or a tube in the windpipe.
Additionally, treatment may include one or more of the below procedures:
- Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI): Also called coronary angioplasty, PCI is a minimally invasive procedure that opens heart blood vessels with a partial or complete blockage. This involves the insertion of a small mesh tube called a stent.
- Coronary artery bypass grafting: This surgery redirects blood around narrowed arteries to improve blood flow and oxygen to the heart.
Most people survive a first heart attack and enjoy many more years of life. While rest during recovery is important, it is also beneficial to participate in social activities and recreation. Most people can return to work within
Doctors recommend participating in a cardiac rehabilitation program to maximize recovery. This includes medically supervised exercise training, counseling to reduce stress, and education in heart-healthy living.
Recovery also involves making the following lifestyle changes:
- quitting smoking, if applicable
- maintaining a nutritious diet
- getting regular physical activity if not in cardiac rehabilitation
Additionally, a doctor may recommend medications and, in some cases, surgery.
Heart attacks have a
- Attend follow-up medical appointments.
- Follow healthcare professionals’ directions for taking medications.
- Take part in cardiac rehabilitation.
- Seek support from family members or other people who have had a heart attack.
- Manage any necessary risk factors, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Aftereffects of a heart attack may include arrhythmias, heart failure, cardiogenic shock, and heart rupture. Some of these are serious complications that can be life threatening.
Immediate heart attack treatment may involve medications, oxygen, and procedures that help restore blood flow.
Most people survive a first heart attack and can eventually return to work. A doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medications, or surgery to prevent additional heart attacks.
Prevention measures also include getting support from others and managing risk factors such as high blood pressure.