What is a heart attack?
A heart attack happens when an artery that carries blood to the heart becomes blocked. This stops oxygen and nutrients from reaching part of the heart muscle. If blood flow is not restored quickly, some of the cells that make up the heart muscle become damaged and start to die. The longer it takes for treatment to be started, the more damage to the heart.
Quick Heart Attack Facts
- More women than men die of heart disease every year
- Every 90 seconds, a woman in the United States has a heart attack
- American women are 5 times more likely to die of heart disease than breast cancer
- More than 10,000 women younger than 45 have a heart attack every year
Blockages that cause heart attacks usually happen in arteries that are already narrowed. The most common cause of narrowing is a condition called coronary artery disease (CAD). In CAD, fatty deposits called plaque (say: PLAK) build up on the walls of the arteries that send blood to the heart. This happens slowly over many years, and often starts early in life. Eventually, the plaque can break open, causing blood to clump together (as a clot). These clots can block blood flow to the heart, causing a heart attack.