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Heart attack

Heart attacks are the leading killer of both men and women in the United States. They happen when the normal flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle is suddenly interrupted by an unexpected blockage. If blood flow isn't restored quickly, the section of heart muscle not receiving blood begins to die.

Blockages occur when plaque builds up in the arteries (known as atherosclerosis). This can happen over a period of many years without noticeable symptoms.

Although less common, heart attacks can also occur when there is a severe spasm of the coronary artery that cuts off blood flow to the heart muscle.

Fortunately, there is a great deal of information available to help people prevent heart attacks before they occur and many procedures that help save lives if they do. The key to preventing death or long-term damage to the heart during a heart attack is recognizing symptoms and getting help immediately.

Heart attack symptoms

  • Chest pain or discomfort.
  • Discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or upper part of the stomach.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Nausea, vomiting,
  • Light-headedness or sudden dizziness
  • Cold sweats
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