Heart attack

Alternative Names

Myocardial infarction; MI; Acute MI; ST-elevation myocardial infarction; non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction

Definition of Heart attack

A heart attack is when blood vessels that supply blood to the heart are blocked, preventing enough oxygen from getting to the heart. The heart muscle dies or becomes permanently damaged. Your doctor calls this a myocardial infarction.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Most heart attacks are caused by a blood clot that blocks one of the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries bring blood and oxygen to the heart. If the blood flow is blocked, the heart starves for oxygen and heart cells die.

Symptoms

is a major symptom of heart attack. You may feel the pain in only one part of your body, or it may move from your chest to your arms, shoulder, neck, teeth, jaw, belly area, or back.

Signs and tests

A heart attack is a medical emergency. If you have symptoms of a heart attack, seek immediate medical help. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. DO NOT try to drive yourself to the hospital. DO NOT DELAY, because you are at greatest risk of sudden cardiac death in the early hours of a heart attack.

Treatment

If you had a heart attack, you will need to stay in the hospital, possibly in the intensive care unit (ICU). You will be hooked up to an ECG machine, so the health care team can look at how your heart is beating.

Expectations (prognosis)

How well you do after a heart attack depends on the amount and location of damaged tissue. Your outcome is worse if the heart attack caused damage to the signaling system that tells the heart to contract.

Review

David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc., and Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, Washington. – 6/21/2010

Heart, section through the middle
Heart, front view
Acute MI
Post myocardial infarction ECG wave tracings
Progressive build-up of plaque in coronary artery
Posterior heart arteries
Anterior heart arteries
Heart attack symptoms

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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