A heart attack is a serious medical condition that results from a blockage of blood supply to a part of the heart. Generally the blockage is caused from the buildup of fat, cholesterol, or other substances called plaques in the arteries. When oxygen rich blood is unable to reach a section of tissue in the heart, this is known as ischemia. When the deprivation of oxygen and nutrients results in damage or death to the heart muscle, this is called a heart attack or myocardial infarction. The saying “time is tissue” can be used in this scenario. The longer the heart tissue goes without oxygen, the worse off the patient will be.
There are several risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing a heart attack. Lifestyle factors including diet, exercise, smoking, and alcohol consumption can greatly impact your risk of suffering a heart attack during your life. Heart attacks are often fatal, however, the earlier it is identified and treated the better the outcome will be. After a heart attack occurs the heart can take several weeks to heal and recovery time depends on the severity of the heart muscle damage. Generally, the heart is not permanently damaged from a heart attack and will, at least in-part, heal. Often though, the healing process never returns the heart to its pre-attack state and the heart is weaker making it unable to pump as much blood as it did before the attack. With the proper treatment plan, as well as lifestyle changes, the heart will heal faster and remain stronger over time.
A heart attack, which is also called a myocardial infarction is quite common in the United States and across the world. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a heart attack occurs every 43 seconds in the United States. Each year nearly 735,000 Americans have a heart attack with 525,000 experiencing their first heart attack and 210,000 experiencing another heart attack after their first. Nearly one in five heart attacks are silent, meaning that the person is not even aware they have had a heart attack because it occurs with no symptoms.