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Updated on 2/23/2021
Heart attacks, also medically referred to as myocardial infarctions, are common, but potentially life-threatening events. Every year, nearly 800,000 people in the United States suffer one of these medical emergencies. In the following post, we discuss what happens when someone experiences a heart attack. We also look at what causes such an event and the symptoms he or she might face if affected.
What Is A Heart Attack?
A heart attack occurs when a blood vessel leading to or situated within the heart is completely blocked. This obstruction results in a loss of blood flow and supply of oxygen to the heart. If the disease process gets worse, the surrounding heart muscle begins to die. If he or she doesn’t receive prompt and adequate medical help, he or she will suffer significant disability or possibly even die.
What Causes A Heart Attack?
Typically, coronary artery disease (the most common condition that leads to heart attacks) is caused by a collection of cholesterol inside the blood vessels in and around the heart. This collection causes these passageways to narrow and eventually become obstructed.
What Are the Risk Factors?
There are certain risk factors that might cause certain people to be more susceptible than others, including:
- Family History
If a person’s parents or grandparents have a history of heart disease, their risk of a heart attack may be greater.
Like many diseases, the risk of a heart attack increases with age.
- High Blood Pressure
This condition places undue strain on the heart and arteries and could make coronary artery disease worse.
- High Cholesterol
Elevated blood concentrations of LDL or ‘bad cholesterol” increase someone’s chances of being stricken with coronary artery disease.
Nicotine raises blood pressure and forces the heart to work harder and faster.
What Are the Symptoms of A Heart Attack?
Heart attack symptoms may vary from person to person. In some cases, men and women might experience different symptoms altogether. The most common manifestation often experienced by members of both sexes is chest pain or pressure. However, men more often experience severe chest pain.
Women, however, may sometimes experience more of a heart attack’s less common, perhaps overlooked symptoms.
Other well-known symptoms include:
- shortness of breath
- radiating chest pain (for example the neck, jaw, left arm, and back)
Women, however, may sometimes experience more of a heart attack’s less common, perhaps overlooked symptoms. These include:
- shortness of breath without chest discomfort
- gastrointestinal symptoms (indigestion, nausea, and vomiting)
Regardless of their symptoms, he or she should seek urgent medical care for pain or accompanying manifestations that last for more than a few minutes, recur, or worsen. Other less serious health issues can mimic heart attack symptoms. However, it’s more prudent, perhaps life-saving to play it safe and be examined by a physician.
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This article provides general information and discussion about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this article, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. Consult your own physician for any medical issues that you may be having.