Heart Attack


Roberta’s Story

Roberta Richardson didn’t know she was having a heart attack. For days she hadn’t felt her usual self, but typical of a busy woman and business owner, there were homes to decorate and too many irons in the fire to slow down. Besides, the symptoms of her heart attack were not the same as her late father’s. Roberta is now encouraging other women to take their heart health seriously. Watch the video to learn more.

What is a heart attack (myocardial infarction)?

A heart attack occurs when one or more regions of the heart muscle experience a severe or prolonged lack of oxygen caused by blocked blood flow to the heart muscle.

The blockage is often a result of atherosclerosis—a buildup of plaque composed of fat deposits, cholesterol, and other substances. Plaque ruptures and eventually a blood clot forms. The actual cause of a heart attack is a blood clot that forms within the plaque-obstructed area.

If the blood and oxygen supply is cut off severely or for a long period of time, muscle cells of the heart suffer damage and die. The result is dysfunction of the muscle of the heart in the area affected by the lack of oxygen.

What are the warning signs of a heart attack?

Heart attack symptoms may vary among individuals; additionally, the symptoms for women are often different from the symptoms men experience. However, both men and women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest discomfort

Symptoms include:

Women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms:

Follow these two steps of hands-only CPR to save a life if you see someone having a heart attack: Call 911, and push hard and fast in the center of the chest.

If you or someone you know exhibits any of the above warning signs, call 911 immediately! Go to a hospital-based ER by ambulance; do not drive to the Emergency Room. Click here to learn why.

Learn more about Early Heart Attack Care (EHAC), which teaches you to recognize the early signs and symptoms of a heart attack, as well as risk factors that increase your risk of a heart attack, by clicking here.

What are the risk factors for heart attack?

There are two types of risk factors for heart attacks, inherited/genetic or acquired.

Inherited or genetic risk factors are risk factors you are born with that cannot be changed, but can be improved with medical management and lifestyle changes.

Inherited/genetic factors: Who is most at risk?

Acquired risk factors are caused by activities that we choose to include in our lives that can be managed through lifestyle changes and clinical care.

Acquired risk factors: Who is most at risk?

A heart attack can happen to anyone.

It is only when we take the time to learn which of the risk factors apply to us, specifically, can we then take steps to eliminate or reduce them.

Managing heart attack risk factors

Managing your risks for a heart attack begins with: