BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Global Health: Myocardial Infarction



According to World Health Organization, there are about 32.4 million myocardial infarctions and strokes worldwide every year. People who have had a previous episode of myocardial infarction (MI) or stroke are at the highest risk of having another episode. MI survivors are at increased risk of recurrent infarctions and have an annual death rate of 5 percent- 6 times that of people of the same age who do not have a history of MI. In the United States, someone suffers a heart attack every 40 seconds. A total of about 790,000 Americans suffer a heart attack yearly, and of these cases, 580,000 are a first heart attack while up to 210,000 are recurrent.

By definition, Myocardial infarction (MI), also known as heart attack is the irreversible death (necrosis) of heart muscle due to prolonged lack of oxygen supply (ischemia). MI is a medical emergency that occurs when a part of the heart muscle does not receive sufficient blood flow such that the heart muscle is unable to receive oxygen. The more the time that elapses before treatment to restore the blood flow, the greater the damage that will be done to the heart muscle- in severe cases, the affected section of the heart begins to die and this can be fatal. The major cause of heart attack is Coronary artery disease (CAD). Other causes include severe spasm which may be caused by tobacco and illicit drug use or sudden contraction of a coronary artery that can interfere with blood flow to the heart muscle. A heart attack occurs when one or more of the coronary arteries are blocked due to narrowing from the buildup of various substances, including cholesterol in a condition called atherosclerosis.

Risk factors for heart attack are those factors that contribute to atherosclerosis. They may include:

  • Age
  • Tobacco
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Family history of heart attack
  • Lack of exercise and Stress
  • Use of Illicit drugs such as cocaine or amphetamines, can trigger a spasm of your coronary arteries that can cause a heart attack.
  • History of preeclampsia or an autoimmune condition

There are two types of heat attack; the first is STEMI (ST-elevation myocardial infarction) where there is a complete obstruction of blood flow in a coronary artery supplying the heart with oxygen-rich blood. This results in damage to the width of the heart wall. The second type of heart attack is the Non-STEMI (Non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction) in which there is a partial obstruction of blood flow in a major coronary artery supplying the heart with oxygen-rich blood. In this case, only part of the heart wall thickness is damaged.

Medications can reduce the risk of a subsequent heart attack and help damaged heart function better. In addition, lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, eating heart-healthy foods, quitting smoking, exercising regularly, managing stress and controlling conditions that can lead to heart attack, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes can prevent heart attack or its recurrence.

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