The term “anteroseptal” refers to a location of the heart in front of the septum — the wall of tissue that separates the left and right sides of the heart. An infarct is an obstruction of blood supply to an organ or region of tissue, which can lead to cell death.
Knowing the definition, it’s easy to understand how an anteroseptal infarct can lead to permanent cardiac damage or even loss of life.
Anatomy of coronary arteries
While the heart is known for supplying the rest of the body with oxygenated blood, the heart itself also needs its own blood supply to function properly. It comes from the coronary arteries that branch off and encompass the entirety of the heart to ensure cardiac muscles pump efficiently.
There are three main coronary arteries important for supplying the heart with blood, but arguably the most important one is the left anterior descending (LAD) coronary artery, which is known to affect the entire front portion of the heart during an infarct.
If the coronary arteries were to become completely blocked for any reason, a heart attack would occur.
In the case of anteroseptal infarct, there is a partial arterial block along one of the branches of the coronary arteries. This can make it harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body.
What causes an anteroseptal infarct?
Anteroseptal infarct is a relatively uncommon condition to suffer from. It is different from an acute myocardial infarction or heart attack, as those are caused by a complete deprivation of blood supply to the cardiac tissue. However, untreated anteroseptal infarcts have been found to lead to myocardial infarction, potentially causing irregular heart rhythms, pooling of blood, and the possibility of embolus development though blood coagulation.
Blockage of blood supply to the branches of the arteries that lead to the LAD coronary artery should still be treated as seriously as a full myocardial infarction. Treatment must be initiated as soon as possible in order to prevent further tissue damage.
Plaque buildup is thought to be the primary cause of infarcts. They restrict blood flow by simply accumulating on artery walls, slowly increasing in size over time. These plaques also have the potential for breaking off and blocking blood flow elsewhere.
Risk factors and complications of anteroseptal infarct
Age: Those over the age of 45 are more at risk for developing heart attacks compared to younger individuals.
High blood pressure: This condition puts increased strain on the heart, which can damage arteries and increase plaque accumulation, leading to a heart attack.
Tobacco: Long known for constricting blood vessels and increasing your risk of heart disease.
Stress: This can increase blood pressure, elevating your risk of developing a heart attack.
High cholesterol: Bad cholesterol or LDL cholesterol can contribute to arterial plaque development and narrow the diameter of heart blood vessels.
Obesity: A strong risk factor for a number of different health-related complications including an increased risk of anteroseptal infarct development.
Lack of exercise: Sedentarism is associated with obesity risk as well as a weak heart compared to those who regularly strengthen their cardiovascular health through exercise.
Illegal drug use: Certain illicit drugs, such as amphetamines and cocaine, act as stimulants that can overwork the heart, potentially triggering a heart attack in otherwise healthy individuals.
Arrhythmia: Due to an electrical abnormality of contracting heart muscles, an arrhythmia can cause abnormal heart rhythms that can be quite serious and sometimes fatal.
Heart failure: Significant cardiac tissue damage can impair heart muscles from pumping blood out of the heart. When this occurs due to a particularly damaging myocardial infarction, it can be severely debilitating.
Heart rupture: Due to an area of the heart that has become weakened with the potential for breaking open or rupturing. When this occurs, it will leave a hole in a portion of the heart, compromising heart function or even being fatal.
Valve problems: Valves are structures that are found in between heart chambers and major blood vessels. If a valve becomes damaged or does not operate as it should, it could compromise efficient blood flow and affect blood pressure.
What are the symptoms of anteroseptal infarct?
Anteroseptal infarct symptoms present similarly to any other heart condition affecting blood vessels. However, symptoms may vary from patient to patient. Depending on pain tolerances of the individual, anteroseptal infarct symptoms can range from being mild to severe. Common symptoms include:
- Pain in the chest
- Discomfort in the chest
- Feeling of fullness in the chest
- Pressure in the chest
Diagnosing anteroseptal infarct
A patient will usually go into the emergency room complaining of chest pain. When chest pain is presented to a physician, they are trained to rule out the most immediate dangers first, with myocardial infarction being the first looked into. Thankfully, much of the tests for myocardial infarction and anteroseptal infarct are the same.
When first arriving at the hospital, a detailed review of symptoms will be documented, usually when an electrocardiograph machine (ECG/EKG) is being placed. An EKG will provide the doctor with an accurate depiction of the electrical activity of the heart muscles and provide information about where the possible damage could have occurred.
An ECG can be used to detect new damage as well as previous damage to the heart.
Further diagnostic tests include the blood tests looking for biomarkers, which get released into the blood following a damaging blood vessel infarct.
Treating anteroseptal infarct
Stenting: Involves undergoing surgery to place a long thin tube called a catheter into the blocked artery to open it up. Next, a mesh tubing called a stent will be placed to keep the artery open.
Bypass surgery: An invasive procedure where a surgeon will harvest a healthy artery from elsewhere in the body and replant it in the heart to help reroute blood away from the blocked artery.
Aspirin: Helps to prevent the blood from coagulating and forming a blood clot that can cause further damage to blood vessels and organ tissue.
Nitroglycerin: Used to help dilate blood vessels and is an effective treatment for treating chest pain in cardiac conditions.
ACE inhibitors (preventative): One of the medications prescribed for treating the acute symptoms of a serious cardiac condition, ACE inhibitors are great for reducing stress on the heart by lowering blood pressure.
Anteroseptal infarct diet
Maintaining a healthy diet and getting enough exercise is one of the best ways to reduce anteroseptal infarcts.
Reducing the amount of high cholesterol food like meat and dairy as well as other animal products can go a long way in promoting cardiovascular health as you get older.
Instead, try to incorporate more fruits and vegetables such as kale, spinach, blueberries, bananas, avocados, and mangos. However, it is important to keep in mind that despite being healthy for you, these foods — especially fruit — carry a lot of calories that could contribute to your risk of obesity.
Anteroseptal infarcts can seriously encumber your quality of life and even become fatal if not promptly treated. However, if you were to get more exercise and incorporate healthy eating habits into your life, you will be giving yourself the best chance of helping avert anteroseptal infarcts and cardiovascular complications.