Even most of the medically acquainted people today often get confused between heart attack and heart failure, what to talk of the less literate ones ! To understand this difference, one has to first get to know about the mechanism of functioning of heart.
The Function of the Heart
The main function of the heart is to ensure blood supply to different organs. This is done by regular beating of the heart. This beating is ensured by an electrical impulse produced by the heart muscle on its own. As every other organ, heart muscle too, requires regular blood supply to meet its daily expenses. The particular artery which supplies the blood to the heart muscles is known as the coronary artery.
What is Heart Attack?
Now, there are several factors like excessive intake of fat, smoking, lack of exercise etc. which may cause blockage in the coronary artery. The result will be lesser blood supply to the heart muscles eventually causing the deadening of heart muscle which is technically known as myocardial infarction, or in more common terms, heart attack. The severity of the heart attack will depend upon the extent of the blockage. This blockage is checked by a diagnostic process called coronary angiography. If found, the cardiac surgeon tries to clear the process through another intervention called angioplasty. If there is a chance of relapse of the blockage, or constriction of the artery, an implant known as stent is placed inside. However, if the cardiologist finds it difficult to clear the blockage, that portion of blocked artery is bypassed and blood supply is restored from some other part. This is known as the bypass surgery.
What is Heart Failure ?
Heart failure or cardiac arrest is an electrical failure of the heart muscle. As discussed earlier, for proper and regular beating of the heart, electrical impulses are generated in the heart muscle. Due to several reasons like ageing, or blockage of impulse routes in heart, it may go slow, irregular or stop at all. Such event may cause irregularity in the rhythm of the heart. A faster hear rate called tachycardia, while the slower heart rate is called bradycardia. There is another case where the heart beat goes irregular, the case known as arrhythmia. A special case where the heart goes slower sometimes and faster at some other occasions, is known as the sick sinus syndrome. In case of complete failure of this electrical impulse, the heart stops immediately, the condition known as the cardiac arrest or heart failure. Any such electrical irregularity could be easily detected by a simple ECG.
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To regulate this electrical activity, an artificial device called pacemaker is implanted. This is an instrument which acts as a silent spectator till the heart is functioning on its own. As soon as the impulse rate falls below 60 beats per minute, the device starts generating impulse so as to maintain the beating in the desired rhythm. Artificial pacemakers are single chambered and dual chambered, The latter one ensures the better coordinated heart rhythm as it supplies the impulse to both, atrium and ventricles of the heart via separate electrodes.
Be informed and take the right decision !!
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