Possible complications of a heart attack

Sometimes you may have complications following a heart attack

Sometimes you may have complications following a heart attack

Sometimes there are complications following a heart attack. The most common complications after a heart attack are:

Many problems resolve themselves quite quickly however sometimes problems linger and can often be helped by the use of drugs.


  • Your heart's natural electrical rhythm may be damaged by your heart attack. This is called an arrhythmia. Sometimes it is necessary to insert a temporary pacemaker for a few days until this settles down.
  • A pacemaker is a special electrode that is inserted to allow your heart to beat regularly when its own natural pacemaker has been affected. The electrode is attached to a small box that has to be carried around with you. Occasionally this has to become permanent and a tiny pacemaker is inserted under the skin.
  • If your heart develops a rhythm that could be life threatening, an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) may be suggested. This is similar to a pacemaker but delivers different treatments.

Chest pain or angina

  • Sometimes damage to blood vessels can lead to angina. Angina is chest pain that is caused by insufficient blood supply to your heart muscle.
  • Angina can occur before or after a heart attack, as one or more of your coronary arteries may be narrowed. Your doctor may suggest a test called an angiogram to look at your coronary arteries in more detail.

Heart failure

  • When there has been severe damage to a large area of heart muscle, the pumping action of your heart is not sufficient to meet your body's demands for blood and oxygen.
  • When this happens it is referred to as heart failure because of the failure of your heart to work efficiently. Symptoms such as fluid retention, tiredness and breathlessness can result.
Back to top