Myocardial infarction

Myocardial infarction is the technical name for a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when an artery leading to the heart becomes blocked and the heart does not get enough blood or oxygen. Without oxygen, cells in that area of the heart die (called an infarct).

A heart attack is a medical emergency. If you, or someone you know, has any of the symptoms below, call 9-1-1 immediately. If you get prompt medical treatment, you can limit damage to your heart. Waiting even 10 minutes can be fatal. Although heart attack is the leading cause of death in the United States, up to 95% of people who are hospitalized with a heart attack survive.

Most heart attacks are caused by blood clots, which are caused by atherosclerosis (stiffening and narrowing of the arteries). High blood fats (triglycerides) and LDL (bad) cholesterol contribute to the formation of plaque inside arteries, narrowing the passageway and reducing the amount of blood that can flow through. Your lifestyle plays a crucial role in preventing a heart attack or recovering from one. Eating a heart-healthy diet and getting at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week (or more) can greatly reduce your risk of heart attack.

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Review Date: 2/4/2016  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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