A heart attack or acute myocardial infarction occurs once a blockage in one or more of the blood vessels causes a disruption in the flow of blood to the cardiac tissue. With the insufficient flow of blood, oxygen cannot reach the heart muscle and the tissues eventually die. Once the deprivation of oxygen is prolonged, it can lead to permanent tissue death. A usual heart attack can kill cells and the heart could no longer replace these dead cells fast enough to recover from the damage endured. The initial permanent cell death is considered as a precursor to the lasting effects caused by a heart attack. If you want to learn the measures to carry out during a heart attack, click here.
Alterations in the function and structure
It is important to note that the heart beats are highly systematic and prearranged. Once a part of the myocardium or heart muscle dies due to a heart attack, the overall effectiveness of the cardiac system degenerates. The dead tissue does not contract anymore or contribute to the heart beat. Take note that the muscle will lose its synchronicity where the contractions become disordered.
The leftover heart cells will start to take on a different shape and become enlarged which is called as hypertrophy. This is an attempt of the heart to counter the lack of synchronicity in order to preserve its proficiency. The engorged cells do not contract as powerfully as the normal cells, thus the ability of the heart to produce enough force during every contraction is delayed.
The electrical system of the heart that signals a contraction can also become disrupted due to the changes in the cell structure. This will lead to erratic heart rhythms or arrhythmias. If not resolved with medications or other therapeutic options, the arrhythmias would require the implantation of a permanent pacemaker.
It is important to note that heart failure is a lasting effect of a heart attack on the muscle structure and functionality. After a moderate heart attack, the cardiac muscle will try to compensate for the loss of tissue by changing its structure which is called as compensatory heart failure.
If these mechanisms do not work, the heart could not keep up with the needs of the body and the decompensated heart failure succeeds. The heart failure is accompanied by further complications within the cardiovascular system.
Importance of exercise
Even though the tissue damaged endured during a heart attack might no longer recover, certain programs such as cardiac rehabilitation which focuses on exercising the heart muscle can protect the remaining heart tissue and delay the onset of heart failure.
The exercise will promote blood flow to the heart, thus increasing the synchronicity of the contractions such as exercising the skeletal muscle which produces a stronger heart muscle. Take note that these factors will slow the structural changes caused by heart attack and allows the sustainable tissues to stay stronger for a longer time.