What is a Heart Attack?

Heart attack is one of the most serious complications to arise from heart disease.

How It Happens A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked due to fatty material building up in the arteries and eventually closing them off. This process is called atherosclerosis, or "hardening of the arteries." As a result, the heart becomes badly damaged due to tissue death from lack of oxygen.

Common Symptoms

  • Chest Pain, usually radiating toward the left shoulder and arm. The arm may be tingling or numb.
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Cold sweats, shortness of breath and lightheadedness
  • Feeling of indigestion
  • Dizziness, weakness, and fainting
  • Abdominal pain

If you believe you are experiencing a heart attack, call 911 or contact your emergency response system immediately. Learn more about heart attack symptoms.

Why It Happens There are many contributing factors that can to heart attack. Some factors can be controlled, such as lifestyle choices, including:

  • Cholesterol
  • Blood pressure
  • Exercise
  • Healthy Diet
  • Smoking
  • Controlling other health conditions

There are some factors that cannot be controlled, including:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity

Learn more about heart attack risk factors.

Treatment After a heart attack, a combination of treatments, along with physical and emotional rehabilitation, may be necessary.

Emergency Treatments include:

  • Angioplasty - a surgical procedure used to open the arteries
  • Thrombolytic Therapy - drugs that destroy blood clots that may be used when angioplasty is not an option

Learn more about heart attack treatment options.

It is important to understand why heart attacks occur so you can take the necessary steps to prevent future attacks and manage your lifestyle to keep your heart healthy.