Question

Heart Attack

What happens during a heart attack?

A Answers (6)

  • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
    Treating a Heart Attack With PCI Animation: Heart Attack
    A heart attack occurs if blood flow to the heart is blocked. Learn more about this topic in this video.



  • ARandy P. Martin, MD, Cardiology, answered on behalf of Piedmont Heart Institute
    Dr. Randy Martin - What happens during a heart attack?

    Heart attacks occur when plaque, resulting from cholesterol, cause your body to build clots on the inside of your blood vessels. This build up of plaque and clots starves your heart muscle of oxygen and nutrients necessary for its proper function. Watch this video to learn more from Dr. Randy P. Martin about what happens during a heart attack.



  • ACharles I. Wilmer, MD, Cardiology, answered on behalf of Piedmont Heart Institute

    Your heart becomes weak and may stop. This is usually because the blood supply to the heart muscle is blocked or the electrical rhythm is altered. This makes the muscle not squeeze normally and makes the rest of the body run out of blood supply. The new therapies are aimed at restoring the proper electrical rhythm and helping restore the blood flow to the heart so that the muscle can perform its normal function.

  • Your heart muscle needs oxygen to survive. A heart attack -- which happens in the United States about every 34 seconds -- occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely.

    This happens because coronary arteries that supply the heart with blood can slowly become thicker and harder from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances that together are called plaque. This slow process is known as atherosclerosis. When a plaque in a heart artery breaks, a blood clot forms around the plaque. This blood clot can block the artery and shut off blood flow to the heart muscle. When the heart muscle is starved for oxygen and nutrients, it is called ischemia. When damage or death of part of the heart muscle occurs as a result of ischemia, it is called a heart attack.

  • Normally, the heart receives an adequate blood supply through the coronary arteries. However, during a heart attack, blood flow through a coronary artery is blocked or severely limited for a period of time. This means the muscle doesn't get enough oxygen and blood, and the result can be permanent damage to a portion of your heart. The size and location of your heart muscle damage depends on which coronary artery or branch is blocked.
  • A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to your heart is either temporarily or permanently stopped, causing pain. Heart muscles require constant blood flow, so any decrease will cause the death of heart muscles. Interruption in blood flow is typically caused by a clot such as one that comes from high cholesterol. Lowering high cholesterol through diet, exercise and medication is the best way to prevent heart attacks.
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