|Heart Attacks |
Learn more about heart attacks and the known risk factors.
What is a Heart Attack?
Every 36 seconds, someone dies from heart and blood vessel diseases, America’s leading cause of death. Since most of those deaths are from coronary heart disease – about 452,000 each year – it’s important to learn all you can about heart attack.
A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked off by a blood clot. This happens because coronary arteries that supply the heart with blood slowly become thicker and harder from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances called plaque.
If the plaque breaks open and a blood clot forms to block the blood flow, a heart attack occurs. Damage increases the longer an artery stays blocked. Once the muscle dies, the result is permanent.
Know the Signs
If you or someone you are with experiences one or more symptoms of a heart attack call 9-1-1 immediately. Heart attacks are not always sudden and intense. Many heart attacks start slowly with only mild pain or discomfort. Some people do not experience chest pain but instead have other signs.
Heart Attack Warning Signs
- Chest discomfort
- Uncomfortable pressure, heaviness
- Squeezing, tightness
- Possible burning
- Discomfort lasts more than two minutes, may come and go
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body
- One or both arms
- Neck, jaw
- Other signs (with or without chest discomfort)
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat
- Nausea, vomiting
- Extreme weakness/fatigue
Women and Heart Risk
Women may have other less common warning signs of heart attack:
- Atypical chest, stomach or abdominal pain
- Nausea or dizziness
- Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
- Unexplained anxiety, weakness or fatigue
- Palpitations, cold sweat and/or paleness