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Q: What causes a heart attack?

Posted April 17, 2013 in Advice Column, Winterset

A: A heart attack results when a blood clot completely obstructs a coronary artery supplying blood to the heart muscle and heart muscle dies.

The blood clot that causes the heart attack usually forms at the site of rupture of an atherosclerotic, cholesterol plaque on the inner wall of a coronary artery.

The most common symptom of heart attack is chest pain.

The most common complications of a heart attack are heart failure and ventricular fibrillation.

The risk factors for atherosclerosis and heart attack include elevated cholesterol levels, increased blood pressure, tobacco use, diabetes, male gender and a family history of heart attacks at an early age.

Heart attacks are diagnosed with electrocardiograms and measurement of cardiac enzymes in blood.

Medical treatment for heart attacks may include antiplatelet, anticoagulant and clot dissolving drugs as well as angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta blockers and oxygen.

Patients suffering a heart attack are hospitalized for several days to detect heart rhythm disturbances, shortness of breath and chest pain.

Further heart attacks can be prevented by aspirin, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, discontinuing smoking, weight reduction, exercise, good control of blood pressure and diabetes, following a low cholesterol and low saturated fat diet that is high in omega-3-fatty acids, taking multivitamins with an increased amount of folic acid, decreasing LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol.

Information from Medicinet, provided by Winterset Care Center North, 411 E. Lane St., 462-1571 and Winterset Care Center South, 715 S. Second Ave. 462-4040.

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