Definition

A blockage in the flow of blood to the heart.

Also Known As

  • Coronary thrombosis
  • Myocardial infarction
  • MI
  • STEMI (ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction)

Types

  • STEMI. Complete blockage of a coronary artery (artery bringing blood to the heart).
  • Non-STEMI. Partial blockage of a coronary artery.

Causes

Statistics

Risk Factors

  • Age. A heart attack is more likely in men > 45 years and women > 55.
  • Angina (chest pain due to lack of oxygen or blood supply to the heart)
  • Chronic medical conditions (diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, HIV, obesity)
  • Diet high in saturated fats
  • Genetics
  • History of heart surgery or previous heart attack.
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Stress

Prevention

The American Heart Association recommends that one of the best ways to prevent a heart attack is to adhere to a heart-healthy lifestyle.

  • Control other chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; and limits sweets, sugar-sweetened items, and red meats.
  • Increase physical activity; aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate activity.
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Work towards a healthy weight.
  • Quit smoking

Vaccinations

People with heart disease are at higher risk for serious problems from certain diseases. Getting vaccinated is an important step in staying healthy.

Heart disease can make it harder to fight off certain diseases, make it more likely complications to those diseases will follow, or increase the risk of a heart attack. The CDC recommends all adults receive:

  • Influenza – recommended every year, age 6 months and older
  • Tdap – (if an adult did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.

Additionally, the CDC recommends the following vaccines for adults suffering from heart disease (talk to your doctor about which vaccines are right for you):

COVID-19 and Heart Attacks

The European Society of Cardiology and the CDC have noted that:

  • The risk of contracting COVID-19 is the same for everyone, but that based on currently available information and clinical expertise, people with serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • The virus triggers an inflammatory response placing stress on the cardiovascular system causing the heart to beat fast and harder to supply oxygen

Resources

Support Groups