What Is A Heart Attack?
The heart works
24 hours a day, pumping oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to the body.
Blood is supplied to the heart through its coronary arteries. In
coronary heart disease (CHD), plaques or fatty substances build up
inside the walls of the arteries. The plaques also attract blood
components, which stick to the artery wall lining. Called
atherosclerosis, the process develops gradually, over many years. It
often begins early in life, even in childhood.
The fatty buildup or plaque can break open and lead to the
formation of a blood clot that seals the break. The clot reduces
blood flow. The cycle of fatty buildup, plaque rupture, and blood
clot formation causes the coronary arteries to narrow, reducing
When too little blood reaches the heart, the condition is called
ischemia. Chest pain, or angina, may occur. The pain can vary in
occurrence and be mild and intermittent, or more pronounced and
steady. It can be severe enough to make normal everyday activities
difficult. The same inadequate blood supply also may cause no
symptoms, a condition called silent ischemia.
If a blood clot suddenly cuts off most or all blood supply to the
heart, a heart attack results. Cells in the heart muscle that do not
receive enough oxygen-carrying blood begin to die. The more time
that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the
damage to the heart.
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For additional information, please see the following CHD