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Difference Between Myocardial Infarction and Heart Failure

Myocardial infarction (heart attack) and heart failure are both types of heart illness. While they have some causes in common, they are distinct in certain aspects.

Most cases of myocardial infarction transpire abruptly upon an artery to the heart getting obstructed, restricting the blood flow. Without a sufficient supply of oxygen, the heart muscles begin to perish as a result.

Heart failure, however, typically arises progressively. The heart muscle slowly grows weaker and begins having difficulty with pumping blood to support the cells in the body. Heart failure is a lifelong ailment that increasingly worsens. However, living a good and long life with heart failure is possible with the right medications.

Myocardial infarction can contribute to heart failure by compromising the heart’s pumping capability. In some cases, heart failure can be abruptly brought on by a heart attack. Referred to as acute heart failure, the symptoms experienced in such a case are initially quite severe but can be improved with proper treatment.

Understanding the Causes

Coronary artery disease is the primary cause of both myocardial infarction and heart failure in which plaque buildup from fat contracts and hardens the arteries.

Myocardial Infarction Causes

A person typically has a heart attack when a part of the plaque snaps off to form a clot which then restricts the blood flow. A coronary artery contraction can sometimes also lead to a heart attack even without the presence of hardened arteries.

Heart Failure Causes

Your heart grows weaker in time if it keeps trying to transport blood through an obstructed passageway, and when it is not able to get a sufficient supply of blood, it eventually begins to break down. Heart failure is also closely linked with an array of other conditions, including congenital heart disease, heart valve disease, arrhythmia, infections, cardiomyopathy, HIV/AIDS, thyroid conditions, and pulmonary disease.

Symptoms of Myocardial Infarction

Heart attack symptoms differ in each individual, and they can also be varied among women and men. However, some of the most common sign and symptoms of a heart are:

- Chest pain and pressure, which may also feel like heartburn

- Aching and discomfort in the upper body, including the jaw, arms, neck, and back

- Shortness of breath

- Nausea, dizziness, cold sweats, and feeling fatigued

Symptoms of Heart Failure

If you do have heart failure, there is a good chance you will experience one or more of these hallmark symptoms:

- Difficulty breathing

- Persistent coughing and wheezing

- Fatigue

- Heartbeat irregularities

- Inflammation in the legs and ankles

- Disorientation

Myocardial Infarction Treatment

A heart attack requires urgent care, so even a suspicion of having one should prompt a call to 911. The emergency care team will likely supply you with aspirin, which has blood-thinning properties, to circumvent the formation of more blood clots and nitroglycerin to restore the flow of blood to the heart.

Your lifelong treatment plan, however, will be devised depending on the cause of your heart attack, but most patients’ recovery period goes smoothly. You may require a surgical procedure to unblock an artery and will likely be prescribed medications you need to take on a daily basis. Your doctor will likely also recommend you make some lifestyle changes such as adopting a heart-healthy diet and incorporating regular physical activity into your daily routine.

Heart Failure Treatment

Physicians take advantage of primarily the same medicines prescribed in the case of a heart attack for heart failure—medications that work by reducing blood pressure or slowing down the heart rate. You may use diuretic drugs to eliminate excess fluids, which relieves symptoms like difficulty breathing and swelling.

Lifestyle modifications such as smoking cessation, weight loss, limiting your sodium intake, and taking up regular exercise are imperative to your treatment plan. Given that heart failure worsens over time, you may eventually need to undergo surgery for a pacemaker or defibrillator implantation. In advanced cases, you may require a heart transplant.

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