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Heart Attack / Myocardial Infarction

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, occurs when an artery supplying the heart with blood and oxygen becomes blocked. The heart is a muscular organ that pumps blood through the blood vessels of the circulatory system.

A constant supply of oxygen-rich blood through the coronary arteries is needed to give your heart this critical blood supply. Your arteries become narrow when you have coronary heart disease and blood can’t flow as well as it should. Deposits made up of fat and cells build up over time, forming plaque in your heart's arteries. When the plaque ruptures, it causes platelets and blood clots to form around it. You suffer a heart attack when your blood supply is blocked by a blood clot. Your heart does not get its oxygen if a blood clot blocks your artery and can lead to permanent damage.

A heart attack is best treated within 1 or 2 hours after symptoms begin. Waiting longer means more damage to your heart and a lower chance of survival.

How is a heart attack diagnosed?

Blood Test
A  blood test will be done to organ function, and check cholesterol levels and the presence of anemia. 

An echocardiogram is a form of ultrasound which shows your heart's movement, structure, and function.

Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
An electrocardiogram records the electrical impulses traveling through the heart.

Imaging Test
Cardiac imaging tests are done with ultrasound or CT scan to check the size of your heart and if there is fluid build-up surrounding organs.


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Did you know?

Most heart attacks involve persistent discomfort in the centre or left side of the chest that last for more than a few minutes or one that comes and goes.

Other signs and symptoms of an impending heart attack include shortness of breath, pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, and back, as well as feeling lightheaded or unusually tired.

Learn about ways to take care of your heart health here.