Banner Health Services  

Heart Attack


If you think you may be having a heart attack...

  1. Stop what you are doing
  2. Call 911 for an ambulance 
  3. Sit down and rest

A heart attack occurs when a coronary artery becomes completely blocked and the heart is damaged.

Injured heart muscle heals gradually after a heart attack. A scar will form over the damaged muscle. You must limit your activity while the scar tissue is forming.

  • The scar normally forms in four to six 
    weeks after a heart attack.
  • If the heart attack has damaged a large part of your heart, you may have to limit your activities for a longer period of time, perhaps always.

Coronary arteries can be blocked in three ways:

  1. Atherosclerosis: Fatty cholesterol deposits (plaque) build up in the artery so little blood can flow through to nourish the heart.
  2. Thrombosis: Most frequent cause of heart attack. A blood clot forms in an artery already narrowed by fatty plaque. When this happens, blood clots form and block the flow of blood.
  3. Spasm :The coronary artery can spasm or constrict, limiting blood flow.

Learn more about Banner heart-attack care right arrow

What does it feel like to have a heart attack?
Heart attacks feel different from person to person and can also feel different from one heart attack to the next. Some people never experience any symptoms. (This is called a “silent” heart attack.)

Symptoms are usually more severe than angina and unlike angina, will not go away after rest and taking three doses of nitroglycerin. 

Common heart attack symptoms

  • Pressure, squeezing, tightness, burning or aching in your chest, jaw, neck, shoulders, back or arms
  • Indigestion, nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • General weakness
  • Sudden sweating
  • A fast, pounding heartbeat (More common in women)

For More Information
question Quiz: Women and heart attacks
video Video: Heart Attacks 
risk assessment Are you at risk for coronary artery disease?

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