Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States suffers a heart attack. A heart attack is caused by a blood clot that blocks a coronary artery. The coronary arteries supply blood and oxygen to the heart. If the blood flow is blocked, the heart is deprived of oxygen and heart muscle dies.
The medical term for a heart attack is myocardial infarction.
A heart attack occurs when:
Heart attacks can occur when resting or asleep, after a sudden increase in physical activity, when active outside in cold weather, or after severe stress or illness.
Chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack and may be felt in only one part of the body or may move from the chest to the arms, shoulders, neck, teeth, jaw, stomach, or back.
The pain can be severe or mild, and often feels like a tight band around the chest, bad indigestion, something sitting on the chest, or squeezing or heavy pressure.
Other symptoms of a heart attack can include:
Some people have little or no chest pain. Or, they may have unusual symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, and weakness. A “silent heart attack” is a heart attack without symptoms.
Women often experience atypical or less obvious heart attack symptoms, including:
A Deborah physician will perform an electrocardiogram (ECG) to look for heart damage. Most of the time, certain changes on the ECG indicate the patient is having a heart attack.
A blood test can also show evidence of heart tissue damage.