Severe chest pain is the main symptom. The pain may also travel up into the jaw, down the left arm, or down both arms. The person may also be sweating, feel sick, and feel faint. The pain may be similar to angina; however, it is usually more severe and lasts longer. Angina usually goes off after a few minutes. MI pain usually lasts more than 15 minutes – sometimes several hours.
A small MI occasionally happens without causing pain (a ‘silent MI’). It may be truly pain-free, or sometimes the pain is so mild and that the may think it is only heartburn or ‘wind’. Collapse and sudden death may occur with a large or severe MI.
Many people recover well from an MI with no complications. Before discharge from hospital, it is common for a doctor or nurse to advise you how to reduce any risk factors. This advice aims to reduce the risk of a future MI as much as possible.
Emergency angioplasty is used in some cases as an alternative to a ‘clot busting’ drug in some hospitals. In this procedure a tiny wire with a balloon at the end is put into a large artery in the groin or arm. It is then passed up to the heart and into the blocked section of a coronary artery using special x-ray guidance. The balloon is then blown up inside the blocked part of the artery to open it wide again.
This often depends on the amount of heart muscle that is damaged. In many cases only a small part of the heart muscle is damaged (infarcts or dies) which heals as a small patch of scar tissue. The heart can usually function normally with a small patch of scar tissue. A larger MI is more likely to be life-threatening or cause complications