“Widow maker heart attack” is the name sometimes given to a major heart attack that takes place after a blockage suddenly occurs in one of the coronary arteries. This will most often be either the left artery or sometimes the left anterior descending coronary artery. These two arteries are vital, bearing as they do the task of transporting most of the blood supply to the heart. If this blood supply becomes totally blocked, the part of the heart muscle affected will rapidly start to die.
Blockage of the artery generally occurs due to fat and cholesterol forming inside the coronary artery walls. No symptoms will be evident at first, but if changes to diet and lifestyle aren’t made and medication prescribed when necessary, the plaque will continue to build. Eventually it may break away from the artery wall. When this happens, blood platelets rush to the affected portion of artery. This results in a clot which, if large enough, will totally block the artery, stopping blood flow to the heart.
What is a Widow Maker Heart Attack? – Symptoms
As the name implies, a widow maker heart attack is often fatal. In fact, it’s estimated that 90% of those who suffer this type of heart attack do not survive it. The main people it affects are males aged fifty and over, but it’s not uncommon for women to have this type of heart attack.
Regardless of age or gender, for anyone who exeriences or thinks they may be experiencing a heart attack, it is imperative to seek immediate medical treatment. This is even more vital with widow maker heart attacks as if the blockage is left untreated, death can occur within five minutes.
Heart attack symptoms are quite similar across the board. These symptoms may include feeling pain or discomfort in the chest area. The stronger the pain and discomfort, the more likely the heart attack is to be a severe one, as is the case with a widow maker heart attack. Experiencing a crushing feeling is something many heart attack survivors report. While this pain may be centered around the chest, it can also take in the arms, jaw, neck or back. Other physical symptoms can include shortness of breath, excessive persipration and clammy skin, nausea or vomiting and lightheadedness.
Another symptom many experience during a heart attack is an overwhelming feeling of dread and/or panic.
What is a Widow Maker Heart Attack? – Treatment
If you think you are having a heart attack, don’t wait to see if it will pass. If the attack is a severe one, delay could result in major damage and physical impairment or even death. A widow maker heart attack caused by a total blockage of a coronary artery will need a stent inserted immediately to avert further damage and allow blood flow to the affected area to resume.
A widow maker heart attack is a frightening prospect, but one that can be avoided by making healthy lifestyle changes and paying heed to any warning signs that a heart attack may be forthcoming. These signs are often noticed for several months and up to two years before a heart attack occurs, but without knowing what to look for they could be passed off as somethng minor. Things to look for include regular extreme tiredness, a feeling of digestive upset as well as pain or discomfort in the chest. If you experience any or all of these things for more than a week or so, see your doctor for a checkup.