What is a Heart Attack?
A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction or MI, is caused by severe blockage in a coronary artery. The coronary arteries provide blood flow to the heart. If not treated quickly, the portion of the heart muscle that isn't getting enough blood will begin to die. This leads to a heart attack. A heart attack can lead to heart failure, dangerous abnormal heart rhythms or sudden death.
In the United States, heart attacks are a leading cause of death for both men and women.
Heart Attack Risk Factors
Risk factors for heart attack include:
Heart Attack Symptoms
The most common heart attack warning sign is chest pain. Other symptoms of heart attack may include:
- Pressure, squeezing or fullness in the center of the chest
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Pain in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden excessive sweating
When to Call 911
If you're having heart attack symptoms, it's important to call 911 right away. Early treatment for a heart attack can save your life.
Heart Attack Prevention
Treating risk factors for heart disease is the best way to prevent a heart attack. To decrease your heart attack risk, you'll need to eat a heart-healthy diet and exercise regularly. Your doctor may prescribe medications to help reduce cholesterol and to control your blood pressure and diabetes. Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, can also help to reduce your risk of heart attack.
After a Heart Attack
If you've had a heart attack, a team of health care professionals at Wake Forest Baptist Health will use state-of-the-art equipment to diagnose your condition and take measures to help prevent further damage to your heart. Your team may include heart doctors (cardiologists), nurse specialists and others.
You may request an appointment with a Heart Center doctor by filling out our online form.
Learn more about Wake Forest Baptist's Heart Center services.