Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.
The Lesser of Two Evils
Is there such a thing as one heart attack being somehow better than another? Well, we can all agree that any heart attack is a really bad thing. However, there is always a lesser of two evils. The same goes for heart attacks. Some of them thankfully cause minimal damage, while others results in death. So yes, some are, in a manner of speaking, better than others in that regard.
Let's define what a heart attack is and what distinguishes a mild heart attack vs. a massive one.
Heart Attacks Defined
A heart attack, properly called a myocardial infarction, is a condition that results in the damage to and death of a section of heart muscle as a result of prolonged oxygen deprivation. Now, your heart muscle doesn't have lungs. So they're not being deprived of air.
It's that the heart muscle is supplied by blood vessels called arteries. Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood all over the body, including to the heart itself. If one or more of those arteries supplying the heart muscle with blood is blocked for any reason, be it due to plaque (fatty) buildup, a blood clot, or even a blood vessel spasm (temporary contraction), then a segment of heart muscle is starved of oxygen. This damages that section of heart muscle and eventually causes that segment to die, irreversibly so.
Mild vs. Massive Heart Attacks
You now know enough to understand the difference between a mild heart attack and a massive one. A mild heart attack is like the closure of a minor road. It's not going to affect a lot of people. Like the closure of a small road, the blockage of a small arterial branch will only affect a small part of the heart muscle. This means only a small amount of permanent damage will occur.
Similarly, if the closure of even a large road is very quick, it's not going to affect too many people either. Therefore, if the closure of an artery in the heart is only brief, minimal permanent damage will occur, even to a large section of heart muscle. That's a mild heart attack.
On the other hand, a massive heart attack is like the permanent closure of a large road. It's going to cause mayhem on the streets. This is like the long-term blockage of a large artery supplying the heart muscle, it's going to cause damage and death to a large section of the heart muscle. A massive heart attack is more likely to cause certain problems when compared to a minor heart attack, including:
- Potentially fatal arrhythmias, or irregular rhythms of the heartbeat
- Heart failure
- Shock, the inappropriate supply of oxygenated blood all over the body
- Cardiac arrest, when the heart stops beating and pumping blood
One thing that must be noted before finishing up. You will sometimes hear the media use the term massive heart attack inaccurately. Sometimes, when people say massive heart attack, they refer to cardiac arrest that's caused solely by arrhythmias. Arrhythmias are irregular heart rhythms that are manifestations of the malfunction of the heart's electrical system. They can prove deadly.
While a heart attack may cause cardiac arrest, it does not have to. As you now know, a heart attack, by definition, involves the death of a segment of heart muscle due to a blockage of blood flow to that section of heart muscle. A heart attack is not caused by an arrhythmia. Therefore, using the term massive heart attack to describe cardiac arrest as a result of an arrhythmia is incorrect.
A heart attack, properly called a myocardial infarction, is a condition that results in the death of a segment of heart muscle due to prolonged oxygen deprivation. If the artery that's blocked is small or the blockage is brief, the person may only have minimal irreversible damage to a section of heart muscle. This is a mild heart attack. If the artery that's blocked is large and it's blocked for a long time, a large portion of heart muscle will die. This is a massive heart attack. This is more likely to lead to shock, cardiac arrest, and death.
Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site is for your information only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
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