ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is a term utilized to describe a characteristic heart attack. It is form of myocardial infarction where a region of the heart muscle expired due to a disruption in the supply of blood to the site.
It is important to note that the ST segment is the flat area of an electrocardiogram (ECG) reading and reveals the interval amidst the jagged heartbeats. If an individual experience a heart attack, this segment is not flat but appears unusually elevated.
What are the signs?
STEMI will generally result to intense chest pain or pressure that often radiates to the jaw, neck, arm or shoulder.
In some cases, it is also common for breathlessness, profuse sweating and sense of impending doom to occur. At certain times, the indications might be less evident which manifests with non-specific or generalized signs such as:
- Pain or discomfort around the shoulder blade, chest, arm, jaw, left arm or upper abdomen
- Painful sensations like a “closed fist in the chest”
- Heartburn or indigestion
- Discomfort or tautness in the arm or neck
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sudden exhaustion or fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Clammy skin
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Elevated or erratic heart rate
Generally, those who are at high risk for a heart attack must pay close attention to the unusual signs that might arise above the waist.
Management of STEMI
The doctor starts treatment upon giving a diagnosis of STEMI. Aside from starting the medications to stabilize the heart muscle, the doctor starts measures to reopen the artery.
Unless there is release of the artery within 3 hours of the blockage, at least a certain degree of lasting impairment is likely. Normally, it is possible to prevent injury if the doctor unclogs the artery within the initial 6 hours of an episode. Up to 12 hours, it can prevent some harm. After this, the longer the artery is left with a blockage, the damage will occur.
Once the acute phase of treatment is over and the artery reopens, the doctor performs measures to stabilize the heart and lessen the possibility for another heart attack.
Overall, this requires an extensive period of recovery which includes exercise rehabilitation, dietary changes and anticoagulants and lipid control drugs.