Learn something new every day More Info... by email
A septal infarction is a condition in which the septum of the heart has a patch of dead or dying tissue. This is typically the result of a heart attack, and it can be thought of as a wound on the heart. The non-invasive way to try to determine if a person has this problem is to do an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG).
An EKG is a test in which little electrodes are pasted on the body to detect the electric impulses of the heart. Having an EKG is a painless procedure that allows the beating of the heart to be plotted, or graphed, on a chart in a pattern of waves. Medical professionals then study and interpret these wave patterns to determine if there are any signs of heart disease or damage. Many factors can throw off the reliability of an EKG, however, so just because the wave patterns indicate that a patient may have a septal infarction doesn't necessarily mean there is one. One possible cause of a false report on an EKG is improper placement of the electrodes on the body.
The heart is divided into chambers called ventricles and atria, and the septum is the wall that separates the heart into these chambers. "Infarction" is the name given to an area of damaged or dead tissue, so a septal infarction is when the dying tissue is on this wall that divides the heart. A myocardial infarction is a similar type of wound or dead area of the heart, only it is not specific to the septum, and both myocardial and septal infarctions are the result of a heart attack.
Some physical conditions that are precursors to an infarction include obesity, smoking, diabetes, and raised cholesterol. A person with two or more of these conditions runs the risk of clogging up the vessels that supply blood to the heart and, when the heart is cut off from an adequate blood supply, its tissue begins to die very quickly.
It is possible for patients to healing from a septal infarction, but it does typically cause some permanent damage to the heart. Just as other wounded parts of the body can heal, so can the heart, but this muscle cannot stop to rest in the way that a broken arm might be wrapped in a sling to protect it. Heart tissue also scars when it heals, and this scar tissue is rigid, reducing the efficiency of the heart, so infarctions become more likely to occur in the future.
One of our editors will review your suggestion and make changes if warranted. Note that depending on the number of suggestions we receive, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thank you for helping to improve wiseGEEK!