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Why patients die due to heart attack ?

Posted on: 23 Apr 2021

By: Dr Vinoth Kumar

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Heart related problems especially heart attack is the most common killer disease among adults. But why do people die when there is a heart attack?

Here are the common reasons for sudden death during a major heart attack

  1. Severe pumping problem due to heart muscle damage:

During a major heart attack, the blood vessel to the heart is 100% blocked. The muscle supplied by the blood vessel starts dying. When the duration of block is more, the damaged area will be larger. This damage is permanent. Because of this, the heart loses its effective pumping capacity leading to sudden cardiac death or if the patient survives it leads to swelling of legs, night time cough and breathing difficulty for rest of the life.

  1. Valve leakage:

There are four major valves in the heart. During a heart attack, one of the valves (commonly the mitral valve) might get damaged resulting in the leaking of blood. This causes breathing difficulty due to waterlogging in the lungs. In case of rupture of the valve, valve repair or replacement may be required during the early stages. Overall this problem carries a very high risk of death during the initial stages.

  1. Irregular heart rates:

Major heart attack can lead to very fast heart rates even up to 300 bpm and the beating may be irregular. These can result in sudden death.

  1. Very low heart rates due to heart blocks

When the blood supply to the electrical system of the heart stops completely, the heartbeat may go down to less than 40 bpm and even the heart may stop beating suddenly leading to sudden death

  1. Rupture of the heart:

When the damage to the heart muscle is very severe it may result in tear and rupture of a portion of the heart leading to blood leak and sudden death

The above said complications are very common when the patient reaches the hospital very late. Once these complications set in the outcome will be very poor both immediately and even at the long term. Hence it is always very important to reach the hospital early and get the treatment without much delay.