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Myocardial infarction

1. What is a heart attack?

A heart attack (myocardial infarction) is a form of coronary artery disease, also referred to as ischemic heart disease. An infarction occurs when the coronary blood flow to the heart becomes blocked, resulting in hypoxia and necrosis of the non-bloodied areas of the said organ. A heart attack therefore causes an irreversible damage to a part of the heart.

2. How to recognize a heart attack?

The symptoms of a heart attack may vary depending on the degree of closure of the coronary arteries. However, we may distinguish the most characteristic symptoms of a heart attack:

  • chest pain radiating to the neck, left arm, sometimes towards the abdomen,
  • dyspnoea,
  • prolonged cough,
  • weakness,
  • heart palpitation,
  • feeling tired,
  • vertigo,
  • feeling anxious,
  • numbness in the limbs,
  • cold sweat,
  • digestive symptoms: heartburn, nausea and vomiting.

It also happens that an infarction presents atypically or is asymptomatic.

3. What causes a heart attack?

The cause of a heart attack is ischemia, which is caused by insufficient volumes of blood passing through the narrowed or closed lumen of the vessels that supply the heart with blood. Atherosclerosis is responsible for the narrowing of blood vessels in most of the cases.

4. Who is most at risk of having a heart attack?

People most at risk of having a heart attack are:

  • genetically burdened,
  • aged 50+ (women); 30-45 (men)
  • with diabetes,
  • with arterial hypertension,
  • smoking tobacco,
  • overweight or obese,
  • physically inactive,
  • overworked and stressed,
  • not controlling the condition of their health.

5. Why can stress lead to a heart attack?

Under the influence of stress, hormones are released that make the body ready to fight or flee in response to the stressor. The so-called stress (HPA) axis is activated. What is good in a short-term perspective, has, in the longer run, detrimental effect on the immune system. Long-term stress causes inflammation and promotes the aggregation of morphotic blood consitutuents, hindering its flow. Under stress, the heart speeds up, blood vessels constrict, and blood pressure rises. The constricted coronary arteries can no longer deliver enough oxygen to the heart. The occlusion of the coronary vessel is most often caused by an atherosclerotic plaque. Whenever the heart muscle has to work harder, e.g. during stress, the limited possible blood flow may result in ischemic heart disease or a heart attack if the vessel becomes completely closed.

6. How is a heart attack diagnosed?

In the diagnosis of a heart attack, the following are performed:

  • laboratory blood tests,
  • electrocardiogram (ECG),
  • Chest X-ray,
  • heart echocardiography (ECHO),
  • coronarography

7. How is a heart attack treated?

Treatment of the myocardial infarction should be initiated as soon as possible as it is a life-threatening condition. Swift restoration of blood flow through the closed arteries minimizes damage to the heart. In the event of cardiac arrest, resuscitation measures must be initiated as soon as possible. Inpatient treatment of myocardial infarction consists of pharmacological and/or surgical treatment such as angioplasty (ballooning, stents) or coronary artery bypass grafting (bypass).

8. How to help yourself following a heart attack?

Follow your doctor’s orders issued after the heart attack. Also, remember to undergo cardiac rehabilitation and lead a healthy lifestyle.  Do not be afraid to look for mental support, taking care of your own psyche and reducing stress will help you carry out the next stages of rehabilitation more effectively and will make you feel better, making it lighter for your heart.

9. How does the VR TierOne solution help patients after heart attack?

After a heart attack, it is worth trying to reduce stress for the sake of your own heart. Psychotherapy with use of VR TierOne responds to the needs of reducing anxiety and stress related to the need to change the current lifestyle and external factors such as the required hospitalization period. VR TierOne calms down and helps to achieve a state of deep relaxation, supporting the patient’s mental condition.

10. Why is VR therapy important in the rehabilitation and prevention of heart attacks?

The initiation of rehabilitation following a heart attack is important for the prevention of subsequent cardiac episodes and to avoid the so-called additions of a heart attack. VR TierOne therapy is important in that it helps to eliminate stress, which is one of the causative factors of a heart attack. Psychotherapy with the use of VR TierOne accelerates the return to normality, allowing the patient to return to home and work-related activities.