What is a Heart Attack?

A heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart suddenly becomes blocked and the heart can’t get oxygen. If not treated quickly, the heart muscle fails to pump and begins to die.

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 1 million people in the United States have heart attacks each year. About half of them die. Many people have permanent heart damage or die because they don't get help immediately. So if you think you or someone you love may be having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 right away. Acting fast can save a life.

What are the symptoms of a heart attack?

Symptoms of a heart attack can vary from person to person. Also, symptoms can sometimes be different in women. Here are some common symptoms of a heart attack:

1. Chest discomfort - pressure, squeezing, or pain
2. Shortness of breath
3. Discomfort in the upper body - arms, shoulder, neck, back
4. Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, lightheadedness, sweating
5. Feeling unusually tired for no reason, sometimes for days (especially if you are a woman)

Who is at risk for having a heart attack?

Heart attacks are most often the result of coronary heart disease. There are several things that increase your chances of developing CHD and having a heart attack:
1. Smoking
2. Being overweight/obesity
3. High blood pressure
4. High cholesterol
5. Diabetes
6. Unhealthy diet
7. Lack of physical activity
8. Family history of early heart disease
9. Increasing age

Find, compare & rate cardiologists near you

Learn more about the heart & cardiologists:

How to find the best cardiologist
Tips to preventing heart disease
What are congenital heart defects?
What are heart valve diseases?
What is a cardiologist?
What is arrhythmia?
What is coronary artery disease?
What is heart failure?

A heart attack is also known as: myocardial infarction or MI.