Join/Renew for Just $16 A Year
- Discounts on travel and everyday savings
- Subscription to AARP The Magazine
- Free membership for your spouse or partner
In the movies, heart attacks are always very obvious. They’re sudden, intense, and typically the result of some stressful moment or situation. In reality, heart attacks aren’t always so sudden or dramatic. In fact, most heart attacks start slowly with just mild chest pain and discomfort, causing many people to ignore symptoms until it is too late.
A heart attack usually occurs as a result of coronary artery disease (CAD), the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. Every 25 seconds, someone in America will have a heart attack or coronary event and there are approximately 1.2 million new and recurrent heart attacks each year. Fortunately, through a combination of quick action, medications, interventional procedures and surgery, heart attacks can be treated.
Also known as myocardial infarction, a heart attack essentially occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked. Without oxygen-rich blood flowing to the heart, parts of the heart muscle can become permanently damaged and begin to die. A heart attack usually occurs as a result of coronary artery disease (CAD), the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. CAD is a condition characterized by the buildup of plaque on the walls of the arteries. When a section of plaque breaks off, blood clots form at the site, preventing blood (and oxygen) from flowing to parts of the heart served by the blocked artery.
Heart attacks can be fatal if not treated immediately. The area and amount of damage depends on the location of the blocked artery, the size of the area of the heart affected by the blockage, and also the time between when symptoms started and treatment begins. Sometimes a heart attack will cause the heart to beat erratically as it struggles to keep pumping. CPR and Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) are often used during a heart attack to jolt the heart’s electrical system back into a normal rhythm.
Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Published on: Feb 15, 2011
Medically reviewed : Jennifer Monti, MD
Enter your symptoms in our Symptom Checker to find out possible causes of your symptoms. Go.
Enter any list of prescription drugs and see how they interact with each other and with other substances. Go.
Enter its color and shape information, and this tool helps you identify it. Go.
Find information on drug interactions, side effects, and more. Go.
From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.
Members can get a free Tanger Coupon Book with discount offers from top brand names.
Members save 25% on orders of $200 or more and get 25% off lens upgrades at Glasses.com.
Members save 15% on lunch every day & on dinner Mon-Thurs at Outback Steakhouse.
Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.
Register at a location near you to keep your driving skills sharp.
Find opportunities to volunteer in your neighborhood.
NASCAR champ Jeff Gordon teams up with AARP Foundation.
AARP Foundation Prepaid MasterCard brought to you by Green Dot.
Nothing has been viewed