Cardiologist Questions Cardiologist

Is the heart permanently damaged after a heart attack?

I am a 58 year old male. I want to know if the heart is permanently damaged after a heart attack?

2 Answers

In general, yes – the heart is permanently damaged. But the crucial question is how much. The normal heart is potentially strong enough to win a marathon and for all normal activity it uses only about one half of its power. So even if your heart is as much as 50% damaged it would not hold you back noticeably in the long-term. The main thing is to avoid having another one by addressing the risk factors that caused the first one and getting any critically narrowed coronary arteries opened up (with a stent) or bypassed (surgery).
The area where there was the attack (no blood supply), forms a scar so does not beat as strongly. The amount of damage depends on the size of the heart attack, and that can be seen by echocardiogram or scans.  


Gerald Lewis, MD