The National Institute on Aging shared that a heart attack happens when the flow of oxygen-rich blood in one or more of the coronary arteries, which supply the heart muscle, suddenly becomes blocked, and a section of heart muscle can’t get enough oxygen. The blockage is usually caused when a plaque ruptures. If blood flow isn’t restored quickly, either by a medicine that dissolves the blockage or a catheter placed within the artery that physically opens the blockage, the section of heart muscle begins to die.
Heart attacks are a leading killer of both men and women. Each year, more than 1 million people in the United States have a heart attack, and about half of them die. Half of those who die do so within 1 hour of the start of symptoms and before reaching the hospital.
A heart attack is an emergency. Learn the warning signs of a heart attack. The signs can include:
- Crushing chest pain or pressure and/or discomfort or pain elsewhere in the upper body, neck, or arms
- A cold sweat
- Fainting or lightheadedness
- Shortness of breath