Possible complications of heart attacks
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.
- 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.