A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a section of heart muscle becomes blocked. If the flow of blood isn’t restored quickly, the section of heart muscle becomes damaged from lack of oxygen and begins to die.
Heart attacks can be suddenly fatal, but the great majority- an estimated 85 percent are not. The patient recovers under proper treatment and goes on to live many useful years.
 Anatomy of a Heart Attack
Heart attacks occur most often as a result of a condition called coronary artery disease (CAD). In CAD, a fatty material called plaque builds up over many years on the inside walls of the coronary arteries (the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to your heart). Eventually, an area of plaque can rupture, causing a blood clot to form on the surface of the plaque. If the clot becomes large enough, it can mostly or completely block the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the part of the heart muscle fed by the artery.
During a heart attack, if the blockage in the coronary artery isn’t treated quickly, the heart muscle will begin to die and be replaced by scar tissue. This heart damage may not be obvious, or it may cause severe or long-lasting problems.
Severe problems linked to heart attack can include heart failure and life-threatening arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats). Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood throughout the body. Ventricular fibrillation is a serious arrhythmia that can cause death if not treated quickly.
- Chest discomfort or pain—uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of the chest that can be mild or strong. This discomfort or pain lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
- Upper body discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath may occur with or before chest discomfort.
- Other signs include nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), vomiting, lightheadedness or fainting, or breaking out in a cold sweat.
 Some Early Signs Of Heart Trouble
Some symptoms indicate possible heart trouble --
- Dizzy spell or fainting fits
- Discomfort following meals, especially if long continued.
- Shortness of breath, after slight exertion.
- Fatigue with out otherwise explained origin.
- Pain or tightness in the chest
Other symptoms or activities may cause disturbances in the supply of blood to heart muscles which strain the heart.
- Lack of rest, over exertion or prolonged hard labor which create an excessive body demand for oxygen that the heart, muscle must supply through pumping more blood. If the blood vessels are inelastic on account of arteriosclerosis fibrous thickening or narrowing of passage (atherosclerosis) additional work on the part of the heart will be needed to push blood through these vessels.
- Habitual anger and other emotional excitements.
 Risk Factors
Heart attacks are considered to have multiple causative factors i.e., no one single factor perhaps could be identified as one causing a heart attack. Here are some --
- Heredity - There is ample evidence to show that incidence of heart disease is more in persons whose direct predecessors like fathers, grandfathers, mothers, brothers have suffered from similar disease. Coronary artery disease is found to run mainly in families. A strong family history of the disease is important in diagnosis.
- Stress- Heart disease has often been identified with certain personality patterns. It is labelled as personality disease or a high executive disease, that is, it strikes persons with a certain personality. A certain study has shown that there was four times as much coronary disease among aggressive type of individuals.
- Smoking - It has been found by some workers that death rate among those who had heart attack was 50-150 percent higher in those who were heavy cigarette smoker than non-smokers.
 How to Avoid Heart Attacks
- What Are Heart Attacks?
- Heart Attack Warning Signs