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Infarction is a medical condition in which tissue dies because the arterial blood supply is blocked. It is usually the end product of ischemia, or lowered blood supply. Infarction is most often seen with the word "myocardial," indicating a heart attack. This condition occurs when one of the main cardiac arteries is blocked. When this happens, a person will often need heart bypass surgery.
Some symptoms of myocardial infarction include chest pain, pain in the left arm or jaw, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. However, about 25 percent of people who have a heart attack will not have symptoms. This is most common in the elderly and in diabetics.
A stroke, or cerebrovascular accident, is usually caused by an infarction. It may be caused by a blood vessel with inadequate blood flow due to plaque build-up, or by a small blood clot or bit of plaque from another artery that interrupts the brain's blood supply. Some 80 percent of strokes are caused by this condition.
Peripheral artery occlusive disease (PAOD) can also be related to myocaridal infarction. In PAOD, the arteries in the legs become occluded and the blood flow is insufficient to maintain healthy circulation. Some people, especially diabetics, may undergo amputations due to gangrene in the lower extremities.
The main treatment for the condition, regardless of where it occurs, is to get the blood flowing again. This can be done in a variety of ways. If the patient is a smoker, he is strongly urged to quit. The doctor may also have the patient increase his activity level and lose weight. A physician may also prescribe blood thinning medicine to help prevent clots from forming elsewhere.
As with many disorders, the best way to treat this problem is to prevent it. Quitting smoking, losing weight, exercising and controlling blood sugar are all effective ways to help reduce the chances of developing the ischemia that leads to infarction. With ischemia and infarction, the old adage, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," is all too true.