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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Heart Attack
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Heart Attack

Alternate Names : Myocardial Infarction, MI

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

A heart attack occurs when the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen. This causes cells of the heart tissue to die.

What is going on in the body?

Coronary arteries supply blood and oxygen to the heart. When these arteries do not deliver enough oxygen to the heart muscle, pain results. This pain is known as angina. If the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen for a long enough period of time, the heart cells begin to die. This results in a heart attack.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of heart attacks. Fatty deposits build up along the inner wall of the artery. The narrowing of the coronary arteries is known as coronary heart disease. It reduces the amount of oxygen-rich blood that can reach the heart. Some risk factors for developing a heart attack are:

  • diabetes
  • family history of coronary artery disease
  • high blood pressure, also called hypertension
  • high cholesterol
  • lack of exercise
  • obesity
  • smoking


    Next section


    Heart Attack: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Vincent J. Toups, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 08/10/01

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