Causes of Heart attack


Triggers list for Heart attack: The list of triggers mentioned in source as possible causal factors for Heart attack includes:

Cause statistics for Heart attack: The following are statistics from various sources about the causes of Heart attack:

  • 49% of cases caused by high blood pressure worldwide(WHO World Health Report, 2002)
  • 3.3% of diabetic adults attending specialist diabetes services had a heart attack in Australia 2002 (Australiaís Health 2004, AIHW)

Cause details for Heart attack: A heart attack happens when a blood vessel in or near the heart becomes blocked. Not enough blood can get to that part of the heart muscle. That area of the heart muscle stops working, so the heart is weaker. During a heart attack, you may have chest pain along with nausea, indigestion, extreme weakness, and sweating.1

The heart works 24 hours a day, pumping oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to the body. Blood is supplied to the heart through its coronary arteries. In coronary heart disease (CHD), plaques or fatty substances build up inside the walls of the arteries. The plaques also attract blood components, which stick to the artery wall lining. Called atherosclerosis, the process develops gradually, over many years. It often begins early in life, even in childhood.

The fatty buildup or plaque can break open and lead to the formation of a blood clot that seals the break. The clot reduces blood flow. The cycle of fatty buildup, plaque rupture, and blood clot formation causes the coronary arteries to narrow, reducing blood flow.

When too little blood reaches the heart, the condition is called ischemia. Chest pain, or angina, may occur. The pain can vary in occurrence and be mild and intermittent, or more pronounced and steady. It can be severe enough to make normal everyday activities difficult. The same inadequate blood supply also may cause no symptoms, a condition called silent ischemia.

If a blood clot suddenly cuts off most or all blood supply to the heart, a heart attack results. Cells in the heart muscle that do not receive enough oxygen-carrying blood begin to die. The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart.2

A heart attack occurs when there is a severe blockage in an artery that carries oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. The blockage is usually caused by the buildup of plaque (deposits of fat-like substances, or atherosclerosis) along the walls of the arteries. The sudden lack of blood flow to the heart muscle deprives the heart of needed oxygen and nutrients. If the blockage is not opened quickly, the heart muscle is likely to suffer serious, permanent damage as areas of tissue die. 3

The medical term for a heart attack is acute myocardial infarction. Acute means sudden, myo refers to muscle, and cardia refers to heart. The myocardium is the medical name for the heart muscle. Infarct refers to the artery being plugged or clogged up3

Underlying condition causes of Heart attack: The list of possible underlying conditions (see also Misdiagnosis of underlying causes of Heart attack) mentioned in various sources as possible causes of Heart attack includes:

Heart attack as a complication: Other conditions that might have Heart attack as a complication might be potential underlying causes of Heart attack. The list of conditions listing Heart attack as a complication in our database includes:

Heart attack as a symptom: Conditions listing Heart attack as a symptom may also be potential underlying causes of Heart attack. The list of conditions listing Heart attack as a symptom in our database includes:

Causes of Heart attack: medical news summaries: The following medical news items are relevant to causes of Heart attack:

Related information for causes of Heart attack: Further relevant information on causes of Heart attack may be found in the risk factors for Heart attack and underlying causes of Heart attack.

1. excerpt from Keep your heart and blood vessels healthy: NIDDK
2. excerpt from What Is A Heart Attack: NHLBI
3. excerpt from Heart Attack: NWHIC

Last revision: April 9, 2003

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