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A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, occurs when one or more regions of the heart muscle experience a severe or prolonged lack of oxygen caused by blocked blood flow to the heart muscle.
The blockage is often a result of a buildup of plaque composed of fat deposits, cholesterol and other substances. Plaque ruptures and eventually a blood clot forms. The actual cause of a heart attack is a blood clot that forms within the plaque-obstructed area.
If the blood and oxygen supply is cut off severely or for a long period of time, muscle cells of the heart suffer damage and die. The result is dysfunction of the muscle of the heart in the area affected by the lack of oxygen.
The following are the most common symptoms of a heart attack. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
Although chest pain is the key warning sign of a heart attack, it may be confused with indigestion, pleurisy, pneumonia or other disorders.
If you, or someone you know exhibits any of the above warning signs, act immediately. Call 911, or your local emergency number.
There are two types of risk factors for heart attack, including:
A heart attack can happen to anyone; it is only when we take the time to learn which of the risk factors apply to us can we then take steps to eliminate or reduce them.
Managing your risks for a heart attack begins with:
The goal of treatment for a heart attack is to relieve pain, preserve the heart muscle function and prevent death.
Treatment in the emergency department may include:
Once the condition has been diagnosed and the patient stabilized, additional procedures to restore coronary blood flow may be utilized. Those procedures include: