What is a heart attack?
Your heart pumps blood, which carries oxygen to all parts of your body. Your heart, just like every other part of your body, needs oxygen to survive. Special blood vessels on the surface of your heart (coronary arteries) deliver blood and oxygen to your heart muscle. When the blood supply to your heart muscle slows down or is blocked, a portion of the heart muscle dies. This is called a heart attack.
Because a heart attack damages only a small part of your heart muscle, the rest of your heart continues to work normally. If you have another heart attack, however, more heart tissue may be damaged.
Years ago people often died from heart attacks. If enough muscle is damaged, people can still die from a heart attack. But heart attacks don’t happen in a moment. Rather, they happen over a period of hours, if not longer.
Today with advanced treatments – and immediate medical help – most people survive. Yet after heart attacks, the muscle is no longer as healthy as it once was. So heart attacks can lead to other heart problems such as heart failure or cardiac arrhythmias.