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Heart Attack

If the heart muscle does not have enough blood (and consequently oxygen) it dies and a heart attack occurs. Another name for a heart attack is myocardial infarctioncardiac infarction and coronary thrombosis. According to Medilexicon's medical dictionary, a heart attack is "infarction of a segment of heart muscle, usually due to occlusion of a coronary artery". (Infarction = the process whereby an area of dead tissue is caused by a loss of blood supply). 

A heart attack usually happens when a blood clot develops in one of the blood vessels that lead to the heart muscle (coronary arteries). The clot, if it is big enough, can stop the supply of blood to the heart. Blood supply to the heart can also be undermined if the artery suddenly narrows, as in a spasm.

What are the symptoms of a heart attack?

  • Chest discomfort, mild pain
  • Coughing
  • Crushing chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • Face seems gray
  • A feeling of terror that your life is coming to its end
  • Feeling really awful (general feeling)
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • The person is clammy and sweaty
  • Vomiting
If you experience these symptoms, or witness another person with them, call the emergency services immediately. In the United Kingdom the telephone number is 999, in the USA and Canada it is 911, Australia 000, and New Zealand 111. Many cell phones' emergency number is 112. 


A person who is having a heart attack usually feels the pain in his/her chest first. This pain then spreads to the neck, jaw, ears, arms, and wrists. With some patients, the pain also makes its way into the shoulder blades, the back, and the abdomen. 

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