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What is an Inferior Myocardial Infarction?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An inferior myocardial infarction is a problem with the heart where cells along the inferior wall of the heart die in response to oxygen deprivation. This most commonly occurs as a result of a blockage in the right coronary artery, cutting off the supply of blood to this area of the heart. This condition can be treated in a hospital setting and the prognosis for the patient is dependent on history and physical condition. Some people recover very well from a myocardial infarction.

This condition is acute, onsetting very rapidly when the blood supply is interrupted. Usually, an inferior myocardial infarction is associated with the loosening of an atherosclerotic plaque in the wall of the right coronary artery. The plaque detaches from the wall of the artery, effectively blocking it. As the flow of blood slows, the oxygen-hungry heart muscles begin to die, often causing sudden pain. Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain can be experienced and the patient may feel dizzy or disoriented. It is important to be aware that myocardial infarctions, also known as heart attacks, do not always cause chest pain, especially in women.

In an electrocardiogram, tell-tale signs of an inferior myocardial infarction can be seen, even after the acute attack is already over. The pattern of electrical signals in the heart becomes disrupted, and the severity of the disruption can provide information about the extent of the damage. People receiving treatment for this condition will be carefully evaluated to collect information about the nature of the damage.

Treatments for inferior myocardial infarction can include the administration of medications, along with rest. Patients may be given supplementary oxygen if they have trouble breathing. After the patient recovers, rehabilitation therapy may be recommended. Surgery can also be an option. Once someone has experienced damage to the heart muscle, that patient is at increased risk of having problems in the future and doctors may discuss prevention and treatment options, as future heart events may be worse.

Myocardial infarction is more common in older adults and people in poor physical condition. People can significantly reduce the risks of experiencing a myocardial infarction by keeping cholesterol levels low, exercising regularly, and eating a balanced diet. Smoking can also be a risk factor. People who cut down on their tobacco consumption or quit altogether are at less risk of developing heart problems, especially if they have not been using tobacco for very long.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon1001505 — On Apr 28, 2019

I had a burning spider web pain across the top of my chest that eventually went into both arm pits. The nausea was the worst.

By Supersmom — On Apr 13, 2014

As a 56 year old female, I can tell you after suffering a heart attack just one week ago, that women's symptoms are quite different.

I have many health issues so when I started to experience my symptoms, I tried to explain them away. I had two voices in my head: one telling me to go to the ER and the other telling me to go take a nap. The ER voice was winning because the whole time I was debating with myself, I was getting myself dressed to head to the hospital.

I have arthritis and fibromyalgia in my neck, and I also have issues with my teeth, so when my neck and jaw started to bother me I wasn't too concerned. Especially since it was coming and going and was just bothersome, not really any pain involved. Then I started having some pain in my left back, just below the shoulder blade. It started to radiate to both my arms, the left one more so, but the pain went to my finger tips then the pain started to recede and I just felt a slight numbness. I knew in my head it was a heart attack but still continued with my debate all the way to the ER. I even told my ride not to wait, that I'd call when I needed picked up, telling myself it was just a bout of gas!

Upon my arrival they did an EKG, the nurse left the room and returned with a defibrillator and I knew 100 percent this was a heart attack. They called a code and all hell broke loose in my room. I was immediately whisked out of my room to the cath lab and had a stent placed in my circumflex artery which was 80 percent blocked. This all took place within 1 hour and 15 minutes! I went home the following day!

Women, listen to your body. It really does talk to you! Never ignore your symptoms. I am certainly glad I listened!

By anon352310 — On Oct 21, 2013

How about having the doctor do an EKG and ignoring the results for a month? Yep, I just found out my EKG showed a possible inferior infarction over a month ago.

By Moldova — On Jul 13, 2011

@Bhutan - Heart disease is really scary and can start to develop when you are young. My friend took her daughter for her annual checkup and found that her cholesterol was really high. The doctor told her to eliminate fried foods and fast food restaurants altogether, and take Omega3 fish oil pills.

They told her to have her daughter take one pill a day, but she said that her daughter was having difficulty swallowing those regular pills so she bought some chewable gummy fish oil pills instead. She told me that they really look like candy and now her daughter loves them. The Omega3 pills are supposed to lower the bad cholesterol and raise the good cholesterol levels which help to avoid the blockage of the arteries that cause heart attacks later on.

The doctor also suggested that daily exercise and eating a lot of healthy foods like whole grain breads and cereals will make a difference. My husband takes fish oil pills too, and it keeps his cholesterol in check. He has to be careful because heart disease runs in his family.

By Bhutan — On Jul 12, 2011

@Icecream17 - I think that many doctors don’t diagnose heart attack symptoms in women because many of these women are younger, and the stereotype of a heart attack victim is a man in his fifties or sixties, not a young women in her thirties or even forties with no family history of the disease.

Heart attacks are more common than you think. I recently read a story about a cardiologist that was also a marathon runner that needed quadruple bypass surgery. How someone with a profile like this could have heart attack symptoms and need major surgery is incredible.

It just goes to show you that you really need to get your regular checkups to make sure you are all right.

By icecream17 — On Jul 11, 2011

I heard in the news the other day that heart attack symptoms in women are often dismissed as something else because they may not follow chest pain which is the biggest symptom of a heart attack.

In fact, there was a lady on a television show that had a heart attack and if she had not insisted on getting her heart examined she may not have been alive today.

She said that she felt nauseous and numbness in her arm. She also experienced a real sense of exhaustion like every movement was really taxing. These are also symptoms of a heart attack that many doctors overlook.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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