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What Is a Heart Attack?

A heart attack or myocardial infarction is a life-threatening emergency requiring immediate medical care. It happens when the blood flow to a section of the heart suddenly stops and the muscle cells do not receive enough oxygen. Usually, a heart attack is caused by a blockage of one or more coronary arteries. Without a blood supply, the heart cannot work properly. Cardiac function is reduced or even fails completely. In the latter case, death may occur suddenly. In Despite a slight decline, cardiovascular diseases remain the most frequent cause of death in Europe, causing nearly every second death.1 In the US, around 1,000,000 people suffer from a heart attack each year, out of which 120,000 die.2 \nIf only a small section of the heart’s muscle is affected, the heart may be injured but still able to function at a reduced capacity. The longer the heart’s blood circulation is disturbed, however, the higher the risk that muscle cells will die and be replaced by scar tissue. This scar tissue is not able to perform the tasks of the muscle and the heart will never regain its original power and capacity. Sometimes, scar tissue may cause irregular heartbeats because it cannot conduct the electrical impulses that control the heart’s activity. If the heart is severely damaged, even minor stresses may overstrain its capacity, causing a potentially fatal heart attack. It is therefore crucial to find and treat the blockage of the blood flow as quickly as possible. A heart attack or myocardial infarction is a life-threatening emergency requiring immediate medical care. It happens when the blood flow to a section of the heart suddenly stops and the muscle cells do not receive enough oxygen. Usually, a heart attack is caused by a blockage of one or more coronary arteries. Without a blood supply, the heart cannot work properly. Cardiac function is reduced or even fails completely. In the latter case, death may occur suddenly. About 735,000 Americans have a heart attack each year1. In the US, around 120,000 people die2 from cardiovascular disease each year. If only a small section of the heart’s muscle is affected, the heart may be injured but still able to function at a reduced capacity. The longer the heart’s blood circulation is disturbed, however, the higher the risk that muscle cells will die and be replaced by scar tissue. This scar tissue is not able to perform the tasks of the muscle and the heart will never regain its original power and capacity. Sometimes, scar tissue may cause irregular heartbeats because it cannot conduct the electrical impulses that control the heart’s activity. If the heart is severely damaged, even minor stresses may overstrain its capacity, causing a potentially fatal heart attack. It is therefore crucial to find and treat the blockage of the blood flow as quickly as possible.

+What are the Causes and Risk Factors for a Heart Attack?

+How Do I Recognize a Heart Attack?

+How is a Heart Attack diagnosed?

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