How Heart Attack Occurs?

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What is a heart attack?

When blood flow to a section of heart muscles is blocked, a heart attack occurs. If this blood flow to heart muscles is not restored quickly, the section of heart muscle begins to die due to lack of oxygen.

heart attack

Other names of heart attack include:

  • Myocardial infarction
  • Coronary thrombosis
  • Coronary occlusion
  • Acute coronary syndrome
  • Acute myocardial infarction

Causes of heart attack

Heart attacks usually occur as a result of coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease is a build up of plaque on the inner walls of the coronary arteries.Eventually; a plaque section breaks open which causes a blood to clot at the site. A heart attack then occurs if that clot becomes large enough to cut off most of the blood flow through the artery.

As a result of this blocked blood flow, heart muscles become devoid of oxygen-rich blood fed by the artery. Heart attack can also occur due to problems in microscopic blood vessels of the heart. This condition is known as microvascular disease and is more common in women than men.

Severe tightening (spasm) of a coronary artery is another less common cause of heart attack. These spasms mostly occur in coronary arteries that do not have coronary artery disease. Causes of coronary artery spasm are not clear but it can be related to:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Stress or pain
  • Due to certain drugs such as cocaine
  • Exposure to an environment which is extreme cold

Major risk factors for heart attack include:

  • Smoking
  • High blood cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity and overweight

Heart attack symptoms

Warning signs of heart attack are not same for everyone. Some people have silent heart attack symptoms.

Heart attack warning signs include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Feeling of discomfort in one or both arms, the back, jaw, neck or stomach
  • Breath shortness can occur with or before chest discomfort
  • Nausea, vomiting, breaking out in cold sweat or fainting
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