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What is a heart attack?

10 months ago
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A heart attack, also known as myocardial infarction, is a medical emergency that occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, leading to damage or death of the heart muscle. It is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. The most common cause of a heart attack is the buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries, which are the blood vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart. Plaque is made up of cholesterol, fat, and other substances that can accumulate over time, narrowing the arteries and reducing blood flow. When a plaque ruptures, a blood clot can form, completely blocking the artery and causing a heart attack. The symptoms of a heart attack can vary from person to person, but common signs include: - Chest pain or discomfort, which may feel like pressure, tightness, or squeezing - Pain or discomfort in other parts of the upper body, such as the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach - Shortness of breath, which may occur with or without chest pain - Sweating - Nausea or vomiting - Lightheadedness or dizziness - Fatigue It is important to note that not all heart attacks present with chest pain, especially in women, older adults, and people with diabetes. These groups may experience other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, fatigue, or nausea, which can be mistaken for other conditions. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately. Treatment for a heart attack may include medications to dissolve the blood clot or reduce the workload on the heart, procedures to open the blocked artery, or surgery to bypass the blocked artery. Prevention is key when it comes to heart attacks. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and eating a balanced diet can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease, which is the leading cause of heart attacks. Managing other health conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, is also important in preventing heart attacks. References: - American Heart Association. (2021). Heart Attack Symptoms in Women. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/warning-signs-of-a-heart-attack/heart-attack-symptoms-in-women - Mayo Clinic. (2021). Heart Attack. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-attack/symptoms-causes/syc-20373106 - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2020). Heart Attack. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-attack

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