Over 600,000 people die from heart disease every year. Most of those people die outside of the hospital, meaning they either don’t recognize or don’t act on the early warning signs of a heart attack.
Some people don’t survive heart attacks even when they make it to the hospital, but fortunately, with the help of a new drug, heart attack treatments are getting better.
What is this new drug exactly?
It’s called metoprolol, and it can make a big difference for the recovery of heart attack patients.
What Happens During a Heart Attack?
If there is too much cholesterol, fat, or other unhealthy substances in the blood, it can build up in the coronary arteries. This plaque will grow until it blocks the flow of blood to the heart, which can harm or kill parts of the heart muscle.
The plaque can rupture and pour this built up cholesterol and fat into the bloodstream, and a clot will form at the rupture point. This clot can, if it’s large enough, cut off the blood flow from that coronary artery.
This is the most common cause of a heart attack, but heart attacks can also happen in response to a spasm. If a coronary artery that spasms will shut down blood flow to parts of the heart.
In some cases, a heart artery can tear, which can result in a heart attack as well.
Heart attacks can be fatal, but there are many different treatments that can help if you act fast enough.
The time right after a heart attack occurs is important. During this time, the body can sustain a lot of damage, or the damage can be reduced with the right medications. One of these right medications is called metoprolol.
What is Metoprolol?
It isn’t a new medication. In fact, metoprolol has been around for decades.
When taken, this medication keeps adrenalin, also called norepinephrine, from interacting with beta receptors found in the heart and blood vessels. This makes the vessels relax, which lowers blood pressure and takes the strain off the heart. In turn, this lowers the heart rate and reduces the heart’s increased need for oxygen.
The medication doesn’t make any permanent changes to the blood, but it does help control symptoms of high blood pressure.
How Does This Help After a Heart Attack?
To stop a heart attack, doctors have to remove the clot or blockage from the coronary artery as quickly as they can. But once the artery is clear, blood will pour back into the heart.
This may sound like a good thing, but the neutrophils in the blood, the white blood cells that battle infections, start a runaway inflammatory reaction that results in irreversible heart damage.
This reaction can completely kill heart cells that have managed to survive the heart attack.
Metoprolol keeps this from happening.
How Does It Work?
Metoprolol changes the neutrophils behavior, which means they don’t cause the same kind of inflammatory reaction in the heart. Because of this, the damage they cause it significantly limited.
This prepares the heart to restore its previous blood flow properly.
And the Best Part Is…
The medication is cheap, and it is easy to get. It’s also widely available, so heart attack patients have a better chance of pulling through if they get help soon enough.
How Can I Tell If I’m Having a Heart Attack?
There are several different symptoms that could show before a heart attack. The hard part is recognizing these symptoms correctly.
Not all heart attack symptoms show up together, which sometimes makes people believe they are suffering from another, much more minor problem. People can easily misjudge the symptoms, but if you think there is even a small chance you may be having a heart attack, you should call for medical help right away.
Here are a few common symptoms of a heart attack:
- Cold sweat
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Pain, tightness, or a squeezing feeling in your chest. This could spread to your arms, neck, back, or jaw as well.
Obviously, a lot of these symptoms can be found outside a heart attack, so something like lightheadedness may not cause concern.
The more symptoms you experience at the same time, the more likely you are to have a heart attack. Remember, if you experience one of these symptoms and think it may be a sign of a heart attack, get medical help right away, especially if you have any kind of chest pain or tightness.
Is There Anything Else I Can Do?
Your first step should always be calling 911 or other medical help. Any other steps should only be taken after you have made the call.
If you have nitroglycerin, prescribed by a doctor, you should take it while waiting for medical help to arrive.
You may also be able to take aspirin. This can keep your blood from clotting, but you should only do this if it has been recommended by your doctor or medical emergency personnel.
Common Heart Attack Risk Factors
All the following factors could contribute to your risk of getting a heart attack. If you have one of these factors, you should be extra careful with how you take care of your body.
- Drug use
- High Blood Pressure
- High Blood Cholesterol Levels
- Autoimmune conditions, like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
People who are older (men over 45 and woman over 55) are more likely to have heart attacks. If you have a family history of heart attacks, you are also more likely to end up getting one.
How to Avoid a Heart Attack
The best thing you can do to make sure your heart stays in optimal health is to make the right lifestyle changes. This includes staying at a healthy weight, not weighing too much or too little, and eating the right food.
You should also stay active and manage your stress. Things like smoking and drug use will only make your risk of getting a heart attack higher.
Metoprolol and Heart Attacks
Fortunately, metoprolol plays a huge part in recovering from heart attacks. Because it limits the damage to the heart, recovery can be quicker and easier.
Have a heart disorder and worried it could make things worse? Check out how Sotalol can help.