Heart Attack | Overview


What is a heart attack?

A heart attack (also called myocardial infarction and acute coronary syndrome) is when part of the heart muscle is damaged or dies because it isn't receiving enough oxygen. Normally, the blood in your coronary arteries carries oxygen to the heart muscle. Most heart attacks occur when a blockage slows down or stops the flow of blood through these arteries.

Heart attacks are usually treatable when diagnosed quickly. However, without treatment, heart attacks can be fatal.

What do women need to know about heart attacks?

Women are less likely to survive heart attacks than men. No one knows why. It may be that women don't seek or receive treatment as soon as men, or that they don’t recognize the symptoms of a heart attack, which can be different from the symptoms that men experience. It may be because women's smaller hearts and blood vessels are more easily damaged. Doctors are working on finding answers to these questions. Clearly, it makes sense to prevent heart problems before they start.


Portions of this article were supported by an educational grant from Daiichi Sankyo, lnc. and Lilly USA, LLC

Assessment and Treatment of Depression Following Myocardial Infarction by TP Guck, PH.D., MG Kavan, PH.D., GN Elsasser, PHARM.D., and EJ Barone, M.D. (American Family Physician August 15, 2001, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20010815/641.html)


Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff. Portions of this article were written by Susan D. Housholder, RN, MSN, ANP-BC, FAHA.

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 09/10