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.
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.
Risk Factors for heart attacks include:
- Inherited or genetic risk factors are risk factors you are born with that cannot be changed, but can be improved with medical management and lifestyle changes.
- Acquired risk factors are caused by activities that we choose to include in our lives that can be managed through lifestyle changes and clinical care.
Click here to learn How to Survive a Heart Attack.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack
The following are the most common symptoms of a heart attack. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- severe pressure, fullness, squeezing, pain and/or discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes
- pain or discomfort that spreads to the shoulders, neck, arms, or jaw
- chest pain that increases in intensity
- chest pain that is not relieved by rest or by taking nitroglycerin
- chest pain that occurs with any/all of the following (additional) symptoms:
- sweating, cool, clammy skin, and/or paleness
- shortness of breath
- nausea or vomiting
- dizziness or fainting
- unexplained weakness or fatigue
- rapid or irregular pulse
Although chest pain is the key warning sign of a heart attack, it may be confused with indigestion, pleurisy, pneumonia, or other disorders.
The symptoms of a heart attack may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis. Our Certified Chest Pain Centers are committed to providing the best possible care for heart attack patients.