Myocardial Infarction

Myocardial infarction (MI) is also called a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when an artery leading to the heart becomes totally blocked. A heart attack is a medical emergency. Seek immediate medical attention if you or someone else is having the symptoms listed below.

Signs and Symptoms

What Causes It?

Atherosclerosis, the process of plaque buildup in an artery until it becomes closed, is the most frequent cause of heart attacks. Heart attacks can also result from heart-muscle spasms or hereditary heart problems. The following increase your risk of having a heart attack.

What to Expect at Your Provider's Office

If you think that you are having a heart attack, call for medical assistance immediately. Treating a heart attack within 90 minutes can save a person's life. In the emergency room, the following three things will happen very quickly to determine if you are having a heart attack.

Treatment Options

Blood must be brought back to the affected area of the heart immediately. Three methods for doing this are drug therapy, angioplasty (using one of several methods to clear the blocked blood vessel, such as inflating a balloon inside it or holding it open with a device called a stent), and surgery.

Drug Therapies

Your health care provider may prescribe one or several drugs to help bring blood back to the blocked artery, keep your heartbeat regular, lower your blood pressure, control pain, and improve blood flow.

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies are most appropriate to reduce your risk of a first MI, minimize damage from an MI, and reduce the risk of a subsequent MI. It is important that you first get your condition diagnosed and stabilized by a medical professional.

Nutrition Herbs
Herbs should not be used in place of immediate medical attention. Herbs can be used as general heart tonics and specifically applied to treating conditions associated with MI, such as atherosclerosis, congestive heart failure, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and high fat levels in the blood.

Homeopathy should never be used instead of immediate medical attention.

Physical Medicine
Physical medicine may be beneficial for rehabilitation.

Following Up

You may reduce your risk of heart attack by avoiding known risk factors. Get aerobic exercise (such as walking, biking, or swimming) for at least 20 minutes three times per week. If you haven't exercised much in the past, walking is a great way to start. Reducing stress can also help lower your risk of MI. Learn stress-reduction techniques such as deep breathing and meditation. Gentle exercise such as yoga and tai chi can also help you reduce your stress level. Eat a low-fat diet and stay at the proper weight.

If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, follow your health care provider's instructions to keep it under control. If you are a woman and have gone through menopause, you may want to consider hormone replacement therapy—it can lower your risk of heart disease. Talk to your provider about your options.


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