What is a Heart Attack?

cardiogram Heart Attack

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. suffers from myocardial infarction (more well-known as a heart attack).1 In essence, a heart attack is a severe medical emergency in which the blood supply to the heart is suddenly cut off. When this happens, the affected muscle tissue begins to die. A heart attack can lead to severe complications or death if not treated immediately. 

This article will discuss what causes a heart attack, the symptoms you should watch out for, and how it's treated. We will also cover some prevention tips to reduce your heart attack risk.

Risk Factors for Heart Attack

There's no single cause of heart attack. Rather, there are a wide range of factors that can contribute to this often fatal condition. Some of the most common causes include:  

Additionally, many medical conditions, including diabetes, obesity, and chronic stress, can put someone at greater risk of experiencing a heart attack.  


Signs and Symptoms of Heart Attack

There’s a wide range of symptoms associated with heart attacks. And the symptoms someone will experience can depend on the severity of the heart attack. However, the most common signs and symptoms of a heart attack include the following: 

  • Chest pain or pressure 
  • Radiating pain down the arm or into the jaw 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Feeling lightheaded or weak 
  • Sweating 
  • Abnormal heart rate 

    Diagnosis for Heart Attacks

    To diagnose heart attacks, doctors typically perform several different types of tests and investigations. 

    ECG (electrocardiogram)
    A commonly used investigation that allows doctors to measure the heart's electrical activity
    Chest X-ray
    Can detect any possible changes in the size or shape of the heart that may be related to heart damage 
    Cardiac markers
    Tests can be run that look for specific biomarkers which detect myocardial infarction; they help to identify cardiac muscle cell death due to lack of oxygen
    These investigations and others play a vital role in diagnosing myocardial infarction and assisting patients in getting the necessary treatment. 

    Treatment Options for Heart Attacks 

    Fortunately, several treatment options are available for myocardial infarction, including lifestyle changes, medications, and surgery. These treatments work by either repairing the damaged arterial tissues so that blood can start flowing through to the heart or rerouting blood flow around damaged areas of the artery. 

    Of course, different cases will require additional treatments in order to be most effective. So, it’s also essential to consult with a healthcare professional to choose the right treatment plan for your particular situation. However, whatever option you choose for treating myocardial infarction, because this condition can be fatal, getting treatment as quickly as possible is crucial for optimal healing and recovery. 

    Heart Attack Prevention

    Left untreated, myocardial infarction can lead to complications such as arrhythmias or heart failure. However, specific preventive measures and cardio-conscious lifestyle changes can significantly reduce the risk of developing this condition. These measures include: 

    Taking these steps in conjunction with routine screening and monitoring by a physician makes it possible to significantly reduce the risks of myocardial infarction and its potentially severe consequences. 

    Someone touching their phone, looking at the Cardiogram app
    Using Cardiogram for Heart Attack Prevention and Recovery

    Tagging Symptoms

    If you have symptoms post-heart attack, your doctor can use your tagging info as a way to track your recovery progress and see if there are changes that need to be made to your treatment plan. 

    Enroll in a habit

    Because adapting a healthy lifestyle is one of the most beneficial ways to reduce your risk of a heart attack, enrolling in Habits can help improve your overall quality of life. Sleep, exercise and stress reducing habits are all keys to heart attack prevention and post-heart attack recovery. Just be sure you've spoken with a doctor before engaging in exercise or make major lifestyle changes. 

    Join our facebook community

    If you're at risk or have experienced a heart attack, our Cardiogram Communityon Facebook is filled with other members who share similar experiences and enjoy supporting others in the community. We also have someone who moderates the group with a healthcare background, ready with clinical knowledge to answer questions you may have about your data. 


    Cardiogram app shown on phone and smart watch


    Cardiogram app shown on phone and smart watch

    1. Tsao CW, Aday AW, Almarzooq ZI, Beaton AZ, Bittencourt MS, Boehme AK, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2022 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2022;145(8):e153–e639.
    2. Lu, L., Liu, M., Sun, R., Zheng, Y., & Zhang, P. (2015). Myocardial Infarction: Symptoms and Treatments. Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics, 72(3), 865–867. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12013-015-0553-4
    3. Ojha N;Dhamoon AS. (2022, May 22). Myocardial Infarction. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30725761/#:~:text=Myocardial%20infarction%20(MI)%2C%20colloquially,hemodynamic%20deterioration%20and%20sudden%20death. 


    Cardiogram app shown on phone and smart watch