What Is Heart Attack?

What is Heart Attack? Image

What Is Heart Attack?

Heart Attack is a medical emergency associated with circulation of blood in the muscles of the heart. It occurs when the flow of blood to the heart muscle is critically reduced or blocked because there is  sudden blockage of an artery that supplies blood to the heart. This blockage is often caused by fatty deposits.

According to World Health Organization, every year, about 12 million people throughout the world die of a heart attack or a stroke. Both the poor and the rich are affected. Most people think that they are diseases of middle-aged men. The truth is that both men and women suffer from heart attacks and strokes. Women are much
more at risk after menopause.

Risk Factors for Heart Attack

Many people suffer from heart attack every day. It is one of the leading causes of death not only in the US , but also in Nigeria. Both genders are prone to heart attack .Certain factors may lead to the unwanted buildup of fatty deposits that narrow the arteries. These factors may be reduced or eliminated to reduce the chances of having a heart attack. Some of the triggers heart attack are stress, increase in  age, high cholesterol. Diabetes, hypertension, stroke, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, fatty meal, overweight/obesity, lack of physical activity and illicit drug use. Increase in the risk rate in both men and women at early ages can be traced to the family history of heart disease. 

What Causes Heart Attack?

Coronary artery disease is the major cause of a heart attack. It is a diseases in which there is a narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries. Coronary arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen and blood to the heart. Over time, a  build -up of fatty deposits including cholesterol  form plaques inside the arteries, which narrows it and leads to a condition  known as atherosclerosis. This condition causes most heart attacks.

A plaque can rupture during a heart attack and let out cholesterol and other substances into the bloodstream. If the blood clot formed at the site of the rupture is large it can result in reduced flow of blood to the heart thereby leading to heart attack

It can block blood flow through the coronary artery, thereby starving the heart of oxygen and nutrients and subsequently worsening heart attack.  

Symptoms of Heart Attack 

Symptoms of heart attach differ from individual to individual. Some people have more severe pains while others do not. A good number of individuals do not have symptoms at all.  Some heart attack do occur suddenly, but it usually gives signs hours, days, or weeks in advance. Whatever be the case, urgent medical attention is needed if you start experiencing some of these Signs and symptoms listed below;

  • Feeling of extreme pressure in the chest
  • Pain in the chest, arm or below the breast bone
  • Indigestion and choking feelings
  • Shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, anxiety
  • Extreme weakness, Anxiety, sweating, rapid or irregular heartbeat

People with diabetes, Women and the elderly are more likely to have less typical signs of a heart attack. These may include;

  • Vomiting or Nausea
  • An Unpleasant feeling in the jaw, back , neck or shoulder
  • An ache in the chest, heartburn, or indigestion
  • Shortness of breath

Must you see all symptoms before seeking help medically?

The answer is No. you must not see all the symptoms before seeking medical attention.. if you experience any of the symptoms, kindly rush to the nearest hospital for proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Are Heart Attack Common?

Heart attacks are common in the United States, and a lot of cases are also being diagnosed in Nigeria,  this is mind boggling. The medical world thinks there have not been many diseases in Africa previously, they were underdiagnosed because of lack of facilities. Recent increase in many disease may be due to availability of facilities to diagnose them. According to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), one case of heart attack is reported every 40 seconds; and every year about 805,000 people have heart attack. In Nigeria, about five in every ten persons die of heart attack every year if not attended to on time.

Can Heart Attack be prevented?

Heart attack can be prevented by following any of the two ways mentioned below. 


Of course yes, it can be prevented by adjusting to good lifestyle and diet that keeps the heart healthy. Abstinence from excessive alcohol intake, smoking, reduction in salt intake, and fried foods are measures to keep the health healthy. Consumption of green leaf, vegetables, fruits and meals rich in omega 3 fatty acids are natural preventive measures for maintaining a healthy heart.

Ginger, garlic, curcumin and some other spices and green teas can help prevent some forms of heart disease as they help to reduce blood pressure. Exercising the body regularly help in keeping the heart healthy. Maintaining a faith filled and joyful relationship with God is a way of reducing anxiety disorders. You can also read more about How to Prevent Heart Attack Naturally article on my site.


A damaged heart can function better if medications are taken at the right time with the right prescriptions. We are advised to consult our doctors for appropriate treatment if there are symptoms. Ask your Pharmacist or Physician for appropriate guidance. 

Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest. Any Difference?

They are not the same but people use the terms interchangeably. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked while Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart malfunctions and stops beating unexpectedly. Malfunction in the electrical conductivity of the heart is referred to as cardiac arrest while heart attack is a blood circulation problem. However, heart attack increases the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

How to help someone who just had a Heart attack

  • Make sure the person stays calm and rest while you call your local emergency number for help.
  • Call for first aid kit and AED if available.
  • Have the person chew  and swallow an aspirin if there are no signs of stroke, no serious bleeding, and no allergy to aspirin.
  • If the person is not breathing, begin CPR until advanced help arrives. You can also give rescue breaths if you know how to do it.  Read more on “What is CPR in First Aid” article on my site.

Does regular medical test help reduce incidence of heart attack?

Yes . Studies have shown that doing regular medical checks help prevent heart attack on populations who are at risk. You can develop a habit of doing medical checks at least twice a year, remember that as you maintain your vehicle regularly, you also need to maintain and service your body that takes you about.

What types of test can you do? Check your lipids profile , blood glucose, regular BP checks, ECG, and ECHO if need be, urinalysis for hidden kidney diseases.

So far , I have tried to give a professional answer to what is heart attack. Think this article was helpful, leave us a comment below.

If there is anything I omitted or something else you would want me to write about, kindly leave a comment for us below.

Author Profile

Charles Akinbo
Charles Akinbo
Dr. Olaolu Akinbo , Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery. Fellow West African College of Surgeons.
Latest entries

Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *