A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction, occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, usually by a buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries.
This can cause damage or death to the heart muscle. The most common cause of a heart attack is coronary artery disease, a condition in which the coronary arteries become narrowed or blocked by plaque.
Other risk factors for heart attack include high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and a family history of heart disease.
Causes of heart attack
Here is a list of some common causes of heart attack:
- Coronary artery disease: This occurs when the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart, become narrowed or blocked by plaque.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can put extra strain on the heart and increase the risk of a heart attack.
- Diabetes: Diabetes increases the risk of developing heart disease, including heart attack.
- Smoking: Smoking can damage the blood vessels and increase the risk of plaque buildup in the coronary arteries.
- High cholesterol: High levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood can lead to plaque buildup in the coronary arteries.
- Obesity: Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of heart disease and heart attack.
- Lack of physical activity: A sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of heart disease and heart attack.
- Family history of heart disease: If a close relative has had a heart attack, you may be at increased risk.
- Stress: Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart attack.
- Certain medical conditions: such as sleep apnea, metabolic syndrome, and certain inflammatory disorders, can also increase the risk of heart attack.
Symptoms of a heart attack
Here are some common symptoms of a heart attack:
- Chest pain or discomfort: This can feel like a squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center or left side of the chest.
- Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body: This can include pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath: This can occur with or without chest pain.
- Cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness: These symptoms can occur along with chest pain or discomfort.
- Fatigue: Some people may experience extreme tiredness or a general sense of not feeling well before a heart attack.
It’s important to note that not all heart attacks involve chest pain. Some people may have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. If you suspect you or someone else is having a heart attack, call emergency services immediately. Time is muscle and early treatment can prevent severe damage and death.