The heart is a very efficient organ, pumping nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood to all muscles in the body, including the heart itself. Compromise blood flow to the heart muscle, and cells begin to die, electrical nodes that control the heart's rhythm go haywire, and the heart is no longer a well-organized pump.
Coronary artery disease is the most common cause of a heart attack. It occurs when the arteries are clogged with plaque deposits that prevent blood from flowing freely. Comprised of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other debris, the plaque can partially or totally block the flow of blood and promote blood clots. Over time, the plaque thickens in a process known as atherosclerosis. Clots can travel to vessels of the heart, lungs, and brain. Left untreated, atherosclerosis can lead to a heart attack, stroke, and death.