Heart attack complications are often due to heart muscle damage. Potential complications of a heart attack include:
- Irregular or atypical heart rhythms (arrhythmias). Heart attack damage can affect how electrical signals move through the heart, causing heartbeat changes. Some may be serious and can be deadly.
- Cardiogenic shock. This rare condition occurs when the heart is suddenly and abruptly unable to pump blood.
- Heart failure. A lot of damage to the heart muscle tissue can make the heart unable to pump blood. Heart failure can be temporary or long-lasting (chronic).
- Inflammation of the saclike tissue surrounding the heart (pericarditis). Sometimes a heart attack triggers a faulty immune system response. This condition may be called Dressler syndrome, postmyocardial infarction syndrome, or postcardiac injury syndrome.
- Cardiac arrest. Without warning, the heart stops. A sudden change in the heart’s signaling causes sudden cardiac arrest. A heart attack increases the risk of this life-threatening condition. It can lead to death (sudden cardiac death) without immediate treatment.
It is never too late to take steps to prevent a heart attack even if you have already had one. Here are ways to prevent a heart attack.
- Follow a healthy lifestyle. Do not smoke. Maintain a healthy weight with a heart-healthy diet. Get regular exercise and manage stress.
- Manage other health conditions. Certain conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, can increase the risk of heart attacks. Ask your healthcare provider how often you need checkups.
- Take medications as directed. Your healthcare provider may prescribe drugs to protect and improve your heart health.
It is also a good idea to learn CPR properly so you can help someone who is having a heart attack.