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Heart Attack

What it Is

  • A heart attack occurs when blood flow to part of the heart muscle is blocked.
  • A heart attack occurs when a clot forms in a blood vessel carrying oxygenated blood to the heart muscle. If the blocked vessel is not reopened quickly, the muscle normally nourished by that vessel begins to die.
  • A heart attack is a "clot" problem.

What Happens

Signs of a heart attack may appear immediately, the signs can last weeks or longer and may include:

  • Severe discomfort in the chest or other areas of the upper body
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweats
  • Nausea/vomiting

Typically, during a heart attack, the heart continues to pump blood. The longer the person with a heart attack goes without treatment, the greater the possible damage to the heart muscle.

Occasionally, the damaged heart muscle triggers an abnormal rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest.

Heart attack symptoms in women can be different from those in men, and women may be more likely to experience:

  • Pain in the jaw, arms, back or neck
  • Light-headedness
  • Nausea/vomiting