Causes of heart attacks

Heart attacks are a very scary thing. They can come on suddenly, with no warning, or they can painfully buildup, only for an individual to experience all at once. Regardless of how long it takes for the symptoms to appear, getting treatment is critical for survival; it must be given with 6-8 hours. Heart attacks, also known as myocardial infarctions, are not something that should be thought of lightly; they can easily put an individual in a life or death situation. Therefore, being able to recognize the symptoms is very important; also, it’s important for you to know possible causes so that you can take the necessary steps to prevent a heart attack. For many people, the cause of a heart attack falls with dietary choices, but for others, it could be due to a family history; still yet, there are more causes. A heart attack is the last thing you want to have to deal with.

A heart attack is the death of part of the heart muscle due to a blockage of a coronary artery, which is the artery supplying blood (along with oxygen and nutrients) to the heart. The blockage is usually due to a blood clot. Injury to this muscle causes many symptoms: chest pain (described as a tightness, fullness, pressure, or an ache), shortness of breath, profuse sweating, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, jaw ache, and pain in the shoulders or arms.

There are a handful of known causes of heart attacks.


Atherosclerosis is a gradual process in which cholesterol collects in the walls of the arteries, forming plaques. Eventually, the arterial walls will harden and narrow, causing poor circulation of the area. It is impossible for enough blood to be delivered so that the body can maintain its normal functioning. This can happen in any part of the body. Smoking cigarettes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and diabetes can speed up this process and cause an earlier onset of symptoms. However, it is very possible that an individual does not know he or she has this hardening of the arteries, until one day, bam! Coronary atherosclerosis (also known as coronary artery disease) is very serious and can lead to a heart attack because the heart has decreased blood flow. A heart attack results from this when a plaque ruptures and becomes a free flowing blood clot straight to the heart. It blocks off the blood supply and a heart attack happens.

Family history

A family history of heart attacks is out of an individual’s control to minimize risk. It is feasible that some individuals are predisposed to having a heart attack.

Cocaine use
Cocaine can cause the arteries to go into spasms that eventually lead to a heart attack.

Coronary artery vasospasm
Coronary arteries can unexpectedly go into spasms for unknown reasons, causing angina, which is the term for chest pain and pressure. It is known as Prinzmetal angina.

Anomalous coronary artery

Coronary arteries typically lie on the surface of the heart. Occasionally, part of the artery can go into the heart, and when the muscle contracts, it squeezes off part of the artery (like a kink in a hose). This can cause angina and a heart attack.

Inadequate oxygen
All of the muscles in the body require oxygen; the heart is a muscle. An adequate number of red blood cells and properly functioning lungs are necessary for this oxygen to be present. There are some conditions that can lead to poor red blood cell count, like anemia; poor oxygen can be due to different things as well, such as respiratory failure. Together, these can cause a heart attack due to improper oxygenation of the heart muscle.

Physical inactivity, being overweight, and being obese – these three things can put an individual at higher risk of a heart attack.

Last updated on Oct 3rd, 2010 and filed under Cardiovascular Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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