Heart Attack

(Acute Myocardial Infarction [AMI]; Myocardial Infarction [MI]; ST-Segment-Elevation MI [STEMI]; Transmural Myocardial infarction)

Definition

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart muscle is interrupted. Oxygen cannot get to the heart muscle, causing tissue damage or tissue death.
Heart Attack
Heart Attack
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

A heart attack may be caused by:
  • Thickening of the walls of the arteries feeding the heart muscle (coronary arteries)
  • Build up of fatty plaques in the coronary arteries
  • Narrowing of the coronary arteries
  • Spasm of the coronary arteries
  • Development of a blood clot in the coronary arteries
  • Embolism that affects the coronary arteries

Risk Factors

The risk of heart attack is greater in males and older adults.Factors that may increase your chance of developing a heart attack include:

Symptoms

Symptoms include:
  • Squeezing, heavy chest pain behind breastbone, especially with:
    • Exercise or exertion
    • Emotional stress
    • Cold weather
    • A large meal
    • Usually comes on quickly
  • Pain in the left shoulder, left arm, or jaw
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating, clammy skin
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Anxiety , especially feeling a sense of doom or panic without apparent reason
Unusual symptoms of heart attack—may occur more frequently in women:
  • Stomach pain
  • Back and shoulder pain
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
If you think you are having a heart attack, call for emergency medical services right away.

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