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Monday, April 6, 2015

The Anatomy of a Heart Attack

The very worst thing about heart disease is that it sometimes leads to a heart attack. More Americans die of heart attacks than anything else. But what exactly happens during an “attack”? 

In doctor talk, a heart attack is called a myocardial infarction. It means that the supply of blood to a part of the heart muscle has been cut off. When the heart muscle is deprived of blood, the muscle cells suffer irreversible injury and die. 
 
Depending on how much of the heart muscle has been affected, the heart attack victim suffers disability or even death. About two out of three heart attack victims do survive; they are often those who receive quick medical attention. Heart attacks are usually caused by coronary thrombosis, the formation of a blood clot in a narrowed artery that blocks the flow of blood to the heart.
Heart attacks do not occur out of the blue. They are often the end result of atherosclerosis, a slow degenerative process that clogs the coronary arteries with fatty deposits and other debris. In a way, a heart attack is not too different from an earthquake. In one case, slow changes underneath the earth’s surface eventually result in a serious shock to things up above. In the other case, slow changes along the walls of the blood vessels eventually result in a serious shock to the heart.

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