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Heart Attack

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack happens when the blood vessels that supply blood to your heart are blocked. This can damage your heart or lead to an abnormal heart rhythm or heart failure. A heart attack is also called a myocardial infarction.

Blocked Coronary Artery

What are the signs and symptoms of a heart attack?

What is the difference between angina and a heart attack?

Angina is chest pain, tightness, or discomfort that comes and goes. It gets worse with activity or stress. It gets better with rest, medicine called nitroglycerin, or both. Angina does not damage the heart like a heart attack does. Angina may be a warning sign that you are at risk for a heart attack. Ask your healthcare provider for more information on angina.

What causes a heart attack?

What increases my risk for a heart attack?

How is a heart attack diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask when your chest pain started, what it feels like. Tell the provider if anything makes the pain better or worse. He or she will ask if you took nitroglycerin or other medicines. He or she will ask you about your medical history and if you have had these signs and symptoms before. You may need the following tests:

How is a heart attack treated?

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

What should I do if I think I am having a heart attack?

If you have chest pain for 2 to 3 minutes, stop what you are doing. Call 911 if your chest pain does not go away or gets worse within 5 minutes. Sit or lie down while you wait for the ambulance.

What can I do to manage my health?

What lifestyle changes may I need to make after a heart attack?

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my doctor or cardiologist?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.