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Heart Attack

What is a Heart Attack?

Your heart works 24 hours a day to make sure that your body gets healthy blood full of oxygen. Your heart gets its own supply of blood through your coronary arteries. A heart attack happens when a coronary artery gets blocked, because this stops your blood from flowing properly into your heart muscle. Cells in the heart muscle that are deprived of oxygen-rich blood begin to die.

A block in your coronary artery can be caused in two ways:

  1. Your coronary arteries can develop a fatty build-up called “plaque” inside them. When this happens, it is called atherosclerosis. More than 90% of heart attacks are caused by plaque buildup. When plaque builds up, it can break and lead to the formation of a blood clot that seals the break. If a blood clot suddenly cuts off most or all blood supply to the heart, it can cause a heart attack.
  2. A heart attack can also happen when a coronary artery temporarily tightens or goes into a severe spasm. This causes the coronary artery to squeeze so tightly that it shuts off the flow of blood to your heart.

Some heart attacks might not affect how your heart works, but other heart attacks can stop your heart from pumping blood the way it’s supposed to.