Heart attack - symptoms, signs and therapy

Heart attack - symptoms, signs and therapy

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Heart attack: acute coronary syndrome

Heart disease such as a heart attack or heart attack are among the leading causes of death in modern industrialized nations. Unhealthy diet, too little exercise and being overweight are considered to be the main reasons for the significant increase in fatal cardiovascular diseases in the past decades. Individual countermeasures can be significantly reduced with a few simple countermeasures.

Difference between heart attack and heart attack

Colloquially, there is hardly a distinction between the terms "heart attack" or "acute coronary syndrome" and "heart attack". However, in the medical community these terms are used to describe different degrees of severity of acute heart complaints. The main difference is that the more general term describes complaints that can also go without permanent damage to the tissue of the heart, while a heart attack always causes irreversible damage to the heart muscle tissue. Every heart attack is also a seizure, but not every heart attack turns into a heart attack.

The circulatory disorders of the heart, which are the cause of the potentially fatal heart disease, are less pronounced in other forms of a heart attack than in a heart attack, but otherwise there are hardly any differences in both the symptoms and the triggers.


A heart attack, like a heart attack, is primarily characterized by a massive prick in the chest. The acute chest pain or heart pain can also radiate into the arms, neck, lower jaw, abdomen and back. The pain is accompanied by a violent feeling of pressure and tightness behind the breastbone. Rapid heartbeat, heart stumbling and cardiac arrhythmias are other typical side effects.

The acute complaints lead to a growing inner restlessness in those affected, which can increase to the fear of death. Heart attack patients usually have a pale, pale complexion and start to sweat profusely. Some patients suffer from non-specific accompanying symptoms, such as shortness of breath or nausea and vomiting.

The intensity of the symptoms always depends on the severity of the circulatory disorder of the heart on which the attack is based. This is also the yardstick by which the medical distinction between a heart attack and a heart attack is made. The spectrum of an acute coronary syndrome ranges from unstable angina due to a short-term circulatory disorder of the heart to a heart attack.

Causes of a heart attack

Acute thoracic pain can be caused by various diseases of the cardiovascular system that cause poor blood flow to the heart muscles. Primarily arterial calcification and coronary artery disease should be mentioned here, as well as embolism or endocarditis (inflammation of the inner lining of the heart) are possible causes. In addition, numerous risk factors are known that lead to an increased susceptibility to acute heart complaints.

Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) leads to the accumulation of so-called plaques on the inner walls of the vessels, which narrows the cross-section of the arteries and impedes blood flow. In the worst case, a thrombus forms that completely closes the blood vessels. With arterial calcifications in the area of ​​the heart, the blood supply to the vital organ can no longer be guaranteed to the required extent.

In addition to hereditary predispositions, a disease of diabetes, high blood pressure and nicotine consumption are known to be widespread risk factors. Because obesity and lack of exercise are correlated to numerous potential causes of a heart attack, they are rated as indirect risk factors.

A connection of acute heart complaints with psychological stress and stress is considered to be certain, even if there is no clear scientific evidence for this so far. This applies in a similar way to the observed increased risk in migraine patients, who not only show headaches but also the typical aura symptoms during the migraine attacks.


The noticeable symptoms often indicate a heart attack relatively clearly. However, this may also go without the typical signs. Here, the creation of an electrocardiogram (EKG) or electrocardiography generally offers the diagnostic method of choice. However, performing an EKG takes time and every minute counts. In order to arrive at an assessment more quickly, an additional echocardiographic examination (ultrasound examination) of the heart may therefore be carried out.

Blood tests or certain biomarkers in the blood can provide evidence of a possible heart attack. As a rule, these also take some time and can only deliver results if tissue has already died.

If the diagnostic methods mentioned so far do not allow clear statements, a so-called angiography of the coronary arteries, in which the patient is injected with a contrast agent and then an X-ray examination, remains as a further diagnostic option. Since the organism is exposed to relatively high radiation levels, this method should only be used very sparingly. Ultimately, an ECG that can be prepared as quickly as possible is the diagnostic method of choice if a heart attack is suspected.

Treatment for heart attack

In general, the period immediately after the onset of circulatory disorders in the heart is often decisive for the success of the treatment or the survival of the patient. If adequate first aid is provided in the first minutes of the attack, the patient's prospects improve significantly.

Alerting the emergency services as soon as possible is also the top priority when a heart attack is suspected. Because after half an hour at the latest, the heart tissue begins to die. Ideally, a hospital should be reached beforehand and the existing vascular occlusion should be remedied using lysis therapy or cardiac catheter treatment.

If cardiac arrest occurs in the course of the attack, a heart-lung resuscitation must be started immediately. This also applies to first aiders as long as the ambulance service has not yet arrived. In the ambulance and hospital, there is the possibility of stabilizing the heartbeat again with a defibrillator if ventricular fibrillation is present.

Various medications are used to counteract further blood clot formation and to improve blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart. Pain-relieving medication is usually administered at the same time. In some cases, patients are also given strong sedatives.

If the subsequent examinations confirm the suspicion of an occlusion of the coronary arteries, there may only be the possibility of an invasive procedure to save the patient's life. The so-called primary percutaneous coronary intervention using a stent describes nothing more than an operation in which the closed vessels are opened again or replaced by a new (artificial) hollow organ.

Unfortunately, even countermeasures initiated early on may not be successful and those affected may die. If the acute heart attack is over, it does not mean that the danger is finally over. Often, those affected have to take blood-thinning, anticoagulant and blood pressure regulating medicines for life. The implantation of a pacemaker or even a heart transplant may also be necessary in the long term.

Naturopathy as a supplement

Naturopathy offers numerous treatment options that are used in addition to the therapies mentioned so far and can make an extremely positive contribution to alleviating the symptoms but also preventing a new heart attack.

For example, homeopathics such as aconite, arnica, arsenicum album, aurum metallicum, potassium carbonicum and many more are recommended. The choice of suitable preparations should always be left to experts. In addition, homeopathic drugs are by no means an alternative, but merely a supplement to conventional heart attack treatment. This also applies to the Schüssler salts, which are also often used for heart problems.

Since stress is said to have a negative effect on the heart, measures to reduce stress, such as autogenic training or yoga, also play an important role in naturopathic treatment.

Bach flowers are also used to treat psychologically related heart problems or mental illnesses. From the field of herbal medicine (phytotherapy), hawthorn should be mentioned due to its stimulating effect on the heart function. Ginko is said to develop blood circulation and garlic to protect the vessels. The so-called orthomolecular medicine also focuses on the treatment of cardiac patients with high-dose vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B, vitamin C and magnesium.

Prevent heart attack through proper nutrition and exercise

Nutritional therapies can make a significant contribution, especially in terms of prevention, whereby a low-cholesterol balanced diet seems recommendable. Alkaline foods offer a good approach to counteract possible acidification of the organism or to achieve a balance in the acid-base balance.

In the course of nutritional therapy, any excess weight that may be present should be reduced. Accompanying exercise therapy can be very helpful here. As a rule, this also has a positive effect on the entire cardiovascular system. Special cardiovascular training (cardio training) can make a significant contribution to heart attack prevention.

Endurance sports are generally available to improve cardiovascular functions, but cardiac patients should not exert too much strain on their bodies, especially immediately after the heart attack. A gentle start with a slow increase in stress is advised here. Half an hour of walking a day can have an extremely positive effect in terms of heart attack prevention. (fp)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


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ICD codes for this disease: I21, I22, I51ICD codes are internationally valid encodings for medical diagnoses. You can find yourself e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.

Video: Understanding the Heart Attack, Causes and Symptoms. Dr. Priti Singhania Hindi (February 2023).