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What Really Happens to Your Heart During a Heart Attack?

Last updated 4 years ago

Chest pain, trouble breathing, lightheadedness—the symptoms of a heart attack are familiar to most people. But many of us don’t realize what exactly is happening to the body during a heart attack. The better you understand what a heart attack does to your heart, the more prepared you will be should it actually happen to you or someone near you.

How a heart attack begins. A heart attack happens when there is a blockage in one of your coronary arteries, the blood vessels that bring blood to your heart and permit it to continue functioning. With the flow of blood blocked, the tissue in your heart muscle begins to die. Without quick medical attention, your heart may suffer permanent—and potentially fatal—damage.

What causes a heart attack? In many cases, a heart attack is the result of coronary artery disease, a condition that happens when your coronary arteries gradually become blocked by cholesterol and plaque. Plaque is a sticky material formed of cellular waste and other substances that become trapped in your blood vessels. Heart attacks can also happen when your arteries suddenly tighten, or spasm, cutting off blood flow.

What happens after a heart attack? If medical professionals are able to successfully open the blocked artery, your heart will slowly begin repairing itself. Since the damaged tissue will be replaced with scar tissue, however, your heart may be weaker than it was before the attack. The faster your heart attack is attended to, the better the odds are of reducing damage to your heart.

The emergency room at Largo Medical Center can provide life-saving treatment in the event of a heart attack. We offer state-of-the-art procedures to treat heart problems, including minimally invasive heart surgery. Call (727) 470-6826 if you have any questions, and visit our website to read more about Largo Medical Center.


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Disclaimer: The materials provided are intended for informational purposes only. You should contact your doctor for medical advice. Use of and access to this website or other materials do not create a physician-patient relationship. The opinions expressed through this website are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the hospital, medical staff, or any individual physician or other healthcare professional.
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