A heart attack happens when the blood vessels donâ€™t bring enough blood and oxygen to the heart.
Fat can build up in blood vessels. This buildup of fat, called plaque, can make it harder for blood to travel through the blood vessels to the heart. Plaque can also break open and form a blood clot. The blood clot can block blood flow to the heart. If the blood flow is blocked too long, the heart muscle dies. When the muscle dies, the heart cannot pump blood to the rest of the body as well as it should. Too much damage to the heart can cause death.
What are the symptoms?
Not everyone has the same symptoms. You may:
Feel pressure or pain in your chest
Feel pain in your arm, shoulder, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
Have trouble breathing
Sweat for no known reason
Along with these symptoms, you may also feel very tired, faint, or be sick to your stomach.
If you think you or someone else is having a heart attack, call 911 right away. Don’t wait.
How is it treated?
If you have had a heart attack, you will be treated at the hospital.
Your healthcare provider will give you medicine for blood clots.
You may be given other medicines to help you feel better and to prevent damage to your heart.
You may need to surgery or another procedure to open up or go around blocked parts of your arteries.
How can I take care of myself?
Follow your healthcare provider’s treatment plan.
Try to have a heart healthy lifestyle.
Eat healthy foods.
Lose weight if you need to. Stay at a healthy weight.
Stay fit with the right kind of exercise for you.
If prescribed by your healthcare provider, carry emergency heart medicine with you. Learn when and how to take it. Keep a list of all of your medicines and how much and when you should take them.
Get specific instructions from your healthcare provider on how to take care of yourself when you have chest pain, including:
What medicines you should take
When to call your provider
When to call 911
Getting help right away when you are having a heart attack improves your chances of staying alive. It may also help keep your heart from being damaged.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2014-02-02 Last reviewed: 2014-11-24
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Heart Attack: Brief Version: References
Amsterdam EA, Wenger NK, Brindis RG, et al. (2014). 2014 AHA/ACC Guideline for the Management of Patients With Non-ST-Elevation Acute Coronary Syndromes: Executive Summary: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation.
O’Gara PT, Kushner FG, Ascheim DD, et al. (2013). 2013 ACCF/AHA guideline for the management of ST-elevation myocardial infarction: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation; 127(4):e362-425.