A heart attack occurs when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked. The blockage is most often a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances, which form a plaque in the arteries that feed the heart (coronary arteries). The plaque eventually breaks away and forms a clot. The interrupted blood flow can damage or destroy part of the heart muscle. A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, can be fatal, but treatment has improved dramatically over the years. It's crucial to call 911 or emergency medical help if you think you might be having a heart attack. Not all people who have heart attacks have the same symptoms or have the same severity of symptoms. Some people have mild pain; others have more severe pain. Some heart attacks strike suddenly, but many people have warning signs and symptoms hours, days or weeks in advance. The earliest warning might be recurrent chest pain or pressure (angina) that's triggered by exertion and relieved by rest. Angina is caused by a temporary decrease in blood flow to the heart.
Women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain, such as:
•Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort.
•Shortness of breath.
•Pain in one or both arms.
•Nausea or vomiting.
• or dizziness.
• Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back
• Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain
• Shortness of breath
• Cold sweat
• Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness
Risk factors include:
Age, hypertension, smoking, obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, family history, lack of physical activity, stress, illicit drug use, autoimmune condition, and high blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
If you suspect a heart attack:
Call for emergency help
Take an aspirin or if prescribed by a physician nitroglycerin
Heart attacks can be prevented if you take prescribes medication as directed
Maintain a healthy weight
Maintain a healthy lifestyle