Most people know about heart attacks and why they are caused. Poor diet, unhealthy lifestyle, and poor heart health are some of the leading causes of heart attack. However, do you know about widowmaker heart attack? This type of heart attack is less common, but much more dangerous.
What is a widowmaker heart attack?
Widowmaker heart attack refers to a type of heart attack that occurs when there is complete blockage of the left anterior descending (LAD) artery. Another name for this condition is chronic total obstruction. The blockage of the LAD artery can cause a heart attack in a matter of seconds, which is why the condition is known as widowmaker.
Symptoms of a widowmaker heart attack
Even though the underlying cause of the widowmaker heart attack is different from a normal heart attack, they share the same symptoms. Most patients do not experience any symptoms prior to the heart attack. Here are some warning signs to look out for –
Chest pain and discomfort
Abdominal pain, similar to the pain you experience during heartburn
Pain radiating to your hands, feet, jaw, neck and back
Feeling disoriented and/or dizzy
Women may suffer from many of these symptoms before a heart attack, without experiencing the pain.
Causes of a widowmaker heart attack
A heart attack generally occurs due to plaque formation inside arteries, because of elevated cholesterol levels. The widowmaker heart attack happens when a sudden blood clot in the LAD artery stops blood flow completely.
Treatment for a widowmaker heart attack
If you suffer from a widowmaker heart attack, you will need to be admitted to the hospital immediately. Emergency medical treatment is necessary, else your life could be in danger.
After hospital admission, the treatment occurs in the following steps –
Doctors insert a catheter through your groin region
This catheter is directed to the blocked artery
A balloon at the end of the catheter is inflated once inside the LAD artery, clearing the blockage and restarting blood flow
Lastly, a metal mesh is placed inside the artery to keep it open in the future, so that blood flow is not interrupted
After you recover from this emergency surgery, doctors may recommend further heart surgeries to stabilize your condition. Such surgeries are recommended only if you suffer from multiple blockages across several arteries.